SciFi Weekend: Dollhouse Faces Moral Issues; FlashForward Provides Possibly Contradictory Views of the Future; Wil Wheaton is a Dick (On Big Bang Theory); and See The Aliens Arrive on V

Dollhouse beloning

Belonging, this week’s episode of Dollhouse, was one of the best of the series.  (Major spoilers included). The episode both provided information on the back stories of characters and gave hints as to how this will ultimately lead to the world shown in Epitaph One. The episode primarily centers around how Sierra wound up at the Dollhouse, but also has briefer hints about the history of other characters. We  saw last season that Sierra, originally Priya, had her mind wiped after turning down the advances of Nolan Kinnard.  Kinnard repeatedly hired her and had her programmed to love him.

Belonging provided far more detail. We found that  Kinnard had drugged Priya to make it appear she was schizophrenic, and then called in the Dollhouse to wipe her memory to treat her. Apparently Adelle and Topher did not realize they had previously encountered Priya when she had rejected Kinnard in a scenario where Victor and Echo had been involved, and thought they were helping her.

Echo, becoming increasingly self-aware, tipped of Topher that something was wrong. With Adelle and Topher finding the real reason Sierre/Priya was in the Dollhouse we see the moral issues raised by the technology, along with moral development of the views of the major characters. Adelle protested but gave in when the powers behind the doll houses warned her that if she did not obey she would not like their early retirement plan.

Adelle noted that while most people were hired by the Dollhouse because they had compromised their morals, Topher  was hired because he had no morals at all. He showed that he was developing morals in this episode (along with also working on the remote wipes of Epitaph One.) Instead of delivering a programmed Sierra to Kinnard, Topher restored Priya’s original memories, cured of the mental illness now that the drugs were out of her system. Priya/Sierra wound up killing Kinnard, with Boyd and Topher arriving to clean up that mess.

The logical conclusion would be for Priya to now leave the Dollhouse as she was brought there under false pretenses and no longer appeared mentally ill. I’m sure Whedon didn’t want to lose the character (having just lost Whiskey for most of the season), so they contrived reasons for her to want to remain. This included both not wanting to live with the memory of killing Kinnard and feeling (even if not remembering) her love for Victor.While last season everyone was worried when Victor had an erection, this year they don’t seem to be concerned about the relationship which the two should not be able to feel with their minds, but apparently not libido, wiped.

The episode was unusual in not centering around Echo, but there was also an advance in her storyline as we found she was taking steps to remember what was happening to her. As Adelle and Topher had to make ethical choices with regards to Sierre, Boyd discovered what Echo was doing and chose to help her.

After having one of the best episodes of the series, Dollhouse goes on hiatus for the November sweeps. To make up for it, there will be two episodes per week in December, including the episodes with Summer Glau. I09 has the schedule:

Friday, Dec. 4 – Episode 205 & 206 (Summer Glau episodes 8PM-10PM et/pt)
Friday, Dec. 11 – Episodes 207 & 208 (8PM-10PM et/pt)
Friday, Dec. 18 – Episodes 209 & 210 (8PM-10PM et/pt)

This leaves three episodes to run later in December or January. I’m not very optimistic that Fox will order more after the initial thirteen episode run. Joss Whedon’s response to the change in schedule:

“Howzabout that schedule? Well, I’m not as depressed as everyone else. We weren’t about to rock sweeps anyway, and though there’s a chilly November, December is CRAZY. It’s like an Advent calendar of episodes! We get November to try to spread the word (which I’ll be leaning on Fox to do, though it’s hard to imagine them doing as good a job as the WhyIWatch guy) and then December is pure gluttony. Plus the episodes line up extremely well in these pairs, and we’ll have an absurdly appropriate lead-in,” Whedon wrote over at Whedonesque. “Back to breaking Tim’s [Minear] episode. Keep the faith, peeps. I’ll bring you news (and hopefully a little humor, I mean would it kill me to punch these up a little?) when I can. -j joss.”


FlashForward moved to Washington, D.C. for last week’s episode where the president looks far more like John Kerry than Barack Obama. Once again we have possibly contradictory visions which raise questions as to whether the visions of the future are inevitable, or whether it is the accounts we are seeing which are sometimes unreliable. In a previous episode, Zoey said that she saw Demetri at their wedding. This contradicts Demitri’s belief that he will be dead both due to not having a flash forward and because of  a phone call from a woman saying she saw a report of his murder. This could be explained as Zoey saw her finance from a distance at the wedding and it could have been someone else–if we accept that she would be marrying someone else so shortly after Demitri’s murder.

This week we saw the president’s vision of some type of crisis (which I suspect plays into the actual cause of the flash forwards). Senator Joyce Clemente claimed she had a vision of being president, which would not fit in with the vision of the actual president. Clemente is ultimately chosen to be vice president, replacing the VP who died during the flash forward. This makes her claims of being president in less than six months more plausible if not for the contradiction with the president still being alive. Perhaps she was not being honest about her vision, or perhaps she mistook a quick view of being VP for being president. This also raises the question of whether there could be alternative futures.

There is yet another mystery raised when Agent Janis Hawk, who is pregnant in her flash forward, is shot at the end of the episode. This could mean that she is fated to survive, or it could also suggest that the future can be changed. We also learn that she is gay, making her events which lead to her becoming pregnant potentially  even more interesting.

There was a lot of political intrigue in the episode. I found it most amusing to learn that the CIA thought China was behind the flash forwards because of their distrust of China and the fact that the United States suffered far more damage than China. Of course the flash forwards occurred during the afternoon in the United States and during the middle of the night in China.  As we saw a suggestion of a more limited flash forward having occurred in the past, my suspicion is that if China had really used this as a weapon they wouldn’t have made it world wide, despite the less severe damage to their country.

I did find it unrealistic that the mosaic project, which puts together a picture of the world in six months, had to be justified based upon whether it could explain why the flash forwards occurred. I would think that the government would be interested in details of the world in six months for a variety of other reasons.

From the previews it appears that the storyline for Dominic Monaghan (of Lost) will really be starting in the next episode. It appears he had a major role in the flash forwards.

Wil Wheaton Big Bang

Wil Wheaton’s motto on his blog is “Don’t be a dick.” The actor who played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation had a guest role on The Big Bang Theory. While playing “himself,” the version of  Wil Wheaton on the show did not follow this motto. He played a “Johnny Fairplay” trick on Sheldon. Maybe this was the evil Mirror version of Wil Wheaton.

The appearance by Wheaton resulted in a fifteen percent increase in the ratings for The Big Bang Theory compared to the previous week.  The next major guest planned is Katee Sackhoff, who will play herself in a cameo on the November 23 episode. Sackhoff , who played Starbuck on Battlestar Gallactica, will also have an appearance on Two And A Half Men and will be regular on the upcoming season of 24.

[Video removed from You Tube]

Just as ABC did with FlashForward, they have posted the first eight minutes of V on line (video above). Also like FlashForward, the key event leads to plane crashes. I love the big screen television screens on the bottom of their space ships. Is it LED, plasma, or a technology unknown on earth?

Dan Rather on Fox

The goal in taking on Fox is not to prevent them from airing propaganda shows but to ensure that people realize that Fox is pure propaganda and does not air true news shows. The best thing to do is probably to mock them, and perhaps Democrats should refuse to appear on some of their shows. Some on the right have responded to criticism of Fox with unsubstantiated comparisons to Nixon’s enemies list or to claim First Amendment issues are in play here. The reality is that nobody support taking the types of actions against Fox which Richard Nixon took against members of the press. Dan Rather is one of many examples of liberal critics of Fox who do not support any restriction of their right to air their views. From The Dallas Morning News:

At a journalism awards luncheon at the Headliners Club in Austin, Rather was asked about cable news programs that have devolved into shows where hosts quiz opinionists about other opinionists (The question posed a Fox News trifecta: Glenn Beck quizzing Ann Coulter about Rush Limbaugh). Said Rather:

“One entertainer interviewing a second entertainer about a third entertainer isn’t my definition of news.”

Rather called the press “the red beating heart of freedom and democracy” and lamented that consolidation and corporate influence have encroached on journalism. He said four or six corporate entities control much of American journalism today – a trend that militates against its fundamental responsibility of holding powerful institutions accountable.

Rather said he’s confident Americans know the difference between the news and the infotainment on some cable news shows. And he said he would oppose any effort to curtail Fox News or any other opinion outlet on radio or TV. He said even if there were a cable station of pure propaganda – “and we may be near that now” – he would oppose censoring it in any way. Sounds like Fox News and talk radio – who warn the Obama administration wants to do them in – has a First Amendment friend in Dan Rather.

I generally agree but he might be over estimating the ability of some Americans to differentiate from real news and the propaganda presented on outlets such as Fox. We have seen too many examples which show that the more someone watches Fox, the more poorly informed they are about the issues. This even extends to Dan Rather himself. I’ve seen many blog comments from conservatives who believe that Dan Rather himself make fake documents about George Bush’s avoidance of his National Guard obligations–which is quite a distortion of the actual controversy.

Keith Olbermann Responds To Conservative Attacks Comparing MSNBC to Fox

Above is the video of Keith Olbermann’s response to the attempts by the right to create a false equivalency between MSNBC and Fox. I previously commented on this yesterday. Among the points he makes is the absurdity of conservatives seeing a conspiracy in Obama meeting with liberal commentator such as Olbermann considering that Obama has also met with conservative commentators, such as when he met with conservative commentators at George Will’s home in January.