I watched the series premiere of Joss Whedon's new Fox series Dollhouse the other day. I can't say I was blown away, but it was interesting enough to make me want to watch more.
The story involves a secret business that caters to the rich and powerful by providing them with "dolls", people who have had their own memory erased and implanted with false memories and personalities. A given doll can apparently be wiped any number of times and overwritten with new personalities, which makes for a decent hook for a weekly show. The show is centered around Echo, who in the first episode we see signing her life over to the dollhouse, though we don't know any of her own backstory.
We see her become a rich guy's dream date for a weekend, and then return to the dollhouse to be wiped and reprogrammed to be a top-notch hostage negotiator for another client. The dolls apparently don't know what's going on, and they always seem to be implanted with a false memory relating to their need to receive some kind of medical treatment (which is an easy way to corral them back into the mind-wiping machine).
There are some subplots: each doll has a handler that shadows them on assignments, and Echo's is an ex-cop who may not always have the interests of his employers at heart. On the outside, there's a detective who is investigating the dollhouse, for which he apparently has no hard evidence that it exists. And then there was another mystery player introduced at the end of the show.
So they've done a good job of throwing an interesting hook and a lot of good dramatic elements into the show. I like that the show doesn't explain every little detail, but that can also make it obscure at points. But my biggest issue is suspension of disbelief. When I first heard about the show, I thought it would be set in the future, along the lines of Whedon's Firefly. But no, it's set in present day, where some rogue band of scientists have independently figured out completely how the mind, memories, and personalities work to the point where they can erase, implant, and mold them at will. They also have a database of just about every possible skill set and personality type that exists, from which they can sculpt any new amalgam they want.
This is really hard to swallow, but hopefully I'll be able to manage it, because it seems like it could be a decent show.