Eliza Dushku finally has all her new playmates for her Dollhouse. The principals and recurring roles have been cast for Joss Whedon‘s ambitious return to television. They include a familiar face from the Buffyverse, as well as lots of new additions. As if that wasn’t enough, critics have gotten their first look at the pilot script for the identity implanting/erasing sci-fi series, and the reviews are pretty much the definition of glowing.
The series follows the burgeoning awareness of Eliza’s character Echo, one of a house full of living dolls who are imprinted with personality packages — from memories to physical abilities and more — for assignments. While we imaged a dream cast when the roles were first revealed back in March, the actual cast looks pretty impressive. First, returning under Whedon’s wing is Amy Acker, aka Fred from Angel. Amy will play the recurring role of Dr. Claire Saunders, the woman who looks after the physical well-being of the dolls.
Dr. Saunders is described as having an acid wit and physical scars from a razor attack in her past. Well, we know Amy can play smart, since Fred was the big brainiac of Angel’s gang. At 31, she falls on the low end of the casting call’s description of a woman who is "30-60, attractive, smart and a little sad." But if Amy can pull off blue skin and tight leather as the demon goddess Illyria, I think sad with a couple scars should be no problem.
British actress Olivia Williams has been cast as Adelle DeWitt. The 39-year-old actress has worked primarily in England for the last decade, but in the late 1990s she starred in a string of Hollywood films as Bruce Willis’ wife in The Sixth Sense, Jason Schwartzman’s inappropriate teacher crush in Rushmore, and Kevin Costner’s baby mama in The Postman.
Adelle is the "beautiful, sophisticated, cold as an alp" woman who runs the Dollhouse "with an efficiency that is both ruthless and protective." I’ve always been impressed by Olivia and had wondered what had happened to her after her first flirtation with Hollywood stardom. I’m glad to see she is back and in a nice meaty role where she doesn’t have to be just the love interest anymore.
Joining Eliza as Dolls are newcomers Dichen Lachman (left) as Sierra and Miracle Laurie (right) as November. Australian/Tibetan actress Dichen has been on the long-running Aussie soap Neighbours since 2005. Sierra is described as a Doll who is "not as self-aware as Echo, but is instinctively drawn to her as a friend."
Miracle has one episode of a show I’ve never heard of called Medical Investigation under her belt. November is a "hopeful child in the house" who is a comforting, radiant presence."
Battlestar Galactica veteran Tahmoh Penikett (left) plays FBI field agent Paul Ballard who is obsessed with tracking down the urban legend of the Dollhouse and becomes a twisted romantic foil for Echo. Welcome to the Captain alum Fran Kranz (right) plays Topher Brink, the Dollhouse’s resident computer genius who imprints and erases the Dolls and is "fun to be around, but might not be remotely trustworthy."
Rounding out the cast are 24 alum Harry J. Lennix (left) as Boyd Langton, an ex-cop who is Echo’s "handler"/bodyguard who is conflicted about his role in exploiting the Dolls, and newcomer Enver Gjokaj (right), another Doll and Echo’s closest friend.
With the cast set, the sneak peeks that a couple of critics have gotten at the pilot script is even more intriguing. E! Watch With Kristin TV columnist Kristin Dos Santos says: "Dollhouse is like The Bourne Identity meets Stepford Wives meets boarding school meets Los Angeles neo-noir meets the Whedonverse. In short, it’s rad, man."
Over at Televisionary, the review is even more breathless when describing the brilliantly a twisted take on human trafficking:
In the gifted hands of Joss Whedon, Dollhouse is a beautiful enigma wrapped in a riddle, a gripping conspiracy story for the ages filled with urban legends, memory tampering, and long-buried secrets coming to the fore. It’s a Shakespearean story of hubris and likely vengeance, filled with sound and fury and signifying, well, lots.
Wow. I, officially, can’t wait. How about you, are you ready to see Joss, Eliza and company play house?