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Welcome to the Dollhouse

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"Oh, we’re in a fishbowl,” admits Joss Whedon about his latest series, Dollhouse. “Some stuff on the Internet has been, ‘The show is doomed!’ And some has been, ‘This will be the greatest show in history!’” From the moment it was announced in late 2007 that the brains behind cult favorites Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly was working on a new sci-fi vehicle for gorgeous Buffy and Angel alumna Eliza Dushku, fanboys and critics alike began formulating opinions. No one knew what to expect.

What we do know is that the show stars Dushku as Echo, an “Active” who lives in a top-secret facility called the Dollhouse. Each week clients hire out Echo and the other Actives to perform an array of missions. At the end of each, their memories are wiped clean, only to be reprogrammed the next week. “Things become complicated for Eliza’s character very quickly,” Whedon reveals, “because she becomes self-aware.” Just because Echo’s life is complicated, however, don’t assume the show itself will be. “It’s not a labyrinth from day one,” reassures Whedon.

As Dollhouse finally hits airwaves this month, the hype, both good and bad, has reached a fever pitch. Months before its premiere, there was a fan site called “Dollverse,” and episode play-by-plays leaked online. A “Save Dollhouse” campaign was even launched when the show was reportedly pulled from Fox’s Monday night schedule and dumped on Friday nights (a.k.a. the TV ghetto). Whedon, who’s been through it all before, isn’t sweating it. “If you let the pressure get to you, it can be paralyzing,” he says, “so I just groove to my own rhythm.”