Dollhouse: Gray Hour (season one, episode four)


Rating ½

Created by Joss Whedon

Written by Sarah Fain and Elizabeth Craft

Directed by Rod Hardy

Starring Eliza Dushku (Echo), Olivia Williams (Adelle DeWitt), Fran Kranz (Topher Brink), Harry J Lennix (Boyd Langton), Reed Diamond (Laurence Dominic), Tahmoh Penikett (Paul Ballard), Dichen Lachman (Sierra), Enver Gjokaj (Victor), Lisa Lapira (Ivy), Andrew Bowen (Scott), Anson Mount (Vitas) and Mark Ivanir (Cyril)

Echo is programmed to lead a daring art heist, but her programming is wiped remotely before she has completed her mission, leaving her helpless and putting the Dollhouse in danger of being exposed, unless she can be rescued or eliminated.


In his review of the third episode, ‘Stage Fright’, for the Guardian newspaper, Gareth McLean wrote, “The jury’s out on whether Dollhouse is an intriguing interrogation of the nature of identity or just teen-boy fantasy fodder.” To me, it feels like the latter pretending to be the former, or perhaps it is simply trying too hard to have its cake and eat it – or maybe it is neither. Whatever it is, I am enjoying it less and less and since I did not exactly enjoy it in the first place that is quite some feat.

I had hoped and expected that the third episode would be the low point and that the quality would now begin to improve, but I disliked this fourth episode intensely. As with the previous episodes, the twists in the story proved to be a conceit that singularly failed to impress me and left me feeling bored and increasingly irritated. More so than that, it was just badly done, whether as a result of the writing or the direction, or maybe a mixture of the two.

Once Echo had been remotely wiped, Sierra was programmed to become the person that Echo should have been, but to no purpose whatsoever. She got to be smug and condescending and made a phone call to Echo that achieved nothing, before having her personality wiped again. When Echo and her accomplices found themselves locked in the vault they were, so we were encouraged to believe, trapped with next to no possibility of escape and yet Echo, who was supposedly completely helpless, was ultimately able to do just that, escape without trace with an absolute minimum of effort. This is just two examples of what I can only describe as the shoddy quality of the episode, which was as shallow as it was slick.

I probably should give up on the show now, because whatever its merits, I am simply not getting anything out of it at all.

Sarah Fain and Elizabeth Craft, who previously worked with Joss Whedon on ‘Angel’, were the creators / executive producers of ‘The Women’s Murder Club’, a short-lived series based on characters created by the writer James Patterson, which I did enjoy, even though it never quite gelled during its brief thirteen episode run.

Review posted 6 June 2009


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