Parents' Guide to

Dollhouse

By Will Wade, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Exciting action series examines deep questions of self.

Dollhouse Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 9 parent reviews

age 15+

age 14+

Scattered quality, but brilliantly original

It's unfortunate that Dollhouse's fascinating premise, a corporation that has programmable people to fit your every need/want, is sometimes undercut by actors without the range necessary for their roles ( Eliza Dushku and Tahmoh Penikett are the real offenders here) and purely episodic stories. When tackling issues of morality, identity, and sexual violence, the show is at its best, and truly those highs are often high enough to make one forget about its lows. The serialized episodes are always worth watching, as are the serial related B-plots of certain episodes, but many purely self-contained episodes are skippable. As well as those themes mentioned above, there are some great performances here from Olivia Williams, Fran Kranz, Dichen Lachman, Enver Gjokaj, and, in much smaller roles than the others, Amy Acker and Alan Tudyk. Concepts of identity and morality are certainly complex, though I wouldn't say they're out of reach for younger viewers. It is really the undercurrent of sex trafficking and the overt discussion of sexual assault that is more inappropriate for younger audiences.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (9 ):
Kids say (11 ):

All of that adds up to a fascinating conceit for a series, giving creator Joss Whedon the freedom to take the show in just about any direction he wants while still providing a compelling framework to hook viewers who will want to know more about the Dollhouse operation. And fans aren't the only ones: FBI agent Paul Ballard (Tahmoh Penikett) is also trying to track down the Dollhouse, though his superiors are convinced he's wasting his time on an urban legend.

But it's no legend, and the idea that personalities and experiences can be archived and implanted into other people means that Whedon can place his characters into a huge variety of exciting situations while examining the very nature of what makes us human. Many producers would be happy enough to focus on the action possibilities, which would make Dollhouse just another spy series with a unique concept. But Whedon has track record of creating some of the most fully realized, original characters in recent years, which suggests that he plans to spend some time here evaluating the philosophical underpinnings of identity and reality. And he'll make it really cool.

TV Details

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