If any readers from outside the UK are wondering why I’m covering this so damned late unfortunately UK telly is a bit slow on the uptake for new US imports, so it takes us quite a while to catch up with the rest of the world.

Luckily, Sci Fi (soon to be SyFy) is finally showing Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse- Tuesdays at 9pm, Sky Channel 129. As I’m sure everyone has gathered, because we’ve raved enough about Mr Whedon over the years, myself and Blackett are enormous Joss fans who would possibly kidnap him and make him tell us stories. So, despite a flurry of very mixed reviews stateside and from SFX I settled down this evening to form my own opinions.

Basically the Dollhouse is a secret hi tech base where people are wiped of their memories in order to become ‘actives’ (or ‘dolls’) who have personalities and memories made from an amalgamation of different people implanted into their brains as and when a client desires. So one minute they could be a geisha the next minute an ass-kicking Buffy-type. Eliza Dushku (Faith from Buffy) plays Echo who in this episode is imprinted as a party girl who meets the man of her dreams then is wiped to become a librarian-type negotiation expert who helps to bring a kidnapped child back to her father. At the end of the episode we then have a teaser shot of a naked man sitting on a coffee table watching videos of Echo before she was wiped and surrounded by the bodies of men he has just killed. We haven’t seen his face yet, dun dun dunnnnnnn.

So what did I think? Well, as always with Joss its a complex idea that relies heavily on the characters to drive it forward rather than a strong singular narrative. That’s not to say that the story isn’t engaging and clever, but for me Joss excels in creating characters who are instantly loveable and interesting then uses them to further a wider story arc. And Echo is engaging and I love her already. I expected Dushku to basically be Faith and play up her sexiness for most of the episode but I was surprised at how believeable she was in the various different roles. And I’m looking forward to seeing Neighbours actress Dichen Lachman (Katya Kinski) playing another ‘active’ Sierra some more as she stepped in for the last five minutes, stole the show, then went away.  As Buffy always was (albeit to a fairly implicit way until season 5), Dollhouse is highly sexual and there are a lot of shots of the lovely ladies of the Dollhouse showering and getting massaged whilst they aren’t on missions. Its not overt though, and just adds to overall unsettling tone that prevades Dollhouse. Whereas the dolls themselves are doing good things- or at least things they are paid for- its the bigwigs pulling their strings that creeped me out and I look forward to seeing how that will develop. Knowing Joss’ writing, he wouldn’t be able to leave characters in a godlike position without them having some sort of fall from grace.

Yeah, so for a first episode I thought Dollhouse was very promising. A little rushed, and a bit complex for the first half hour but oodles of promise.

Can’t wait til next week.