The first episode of Joss Whedon’s new series hit tonight. Of his four series to date, I’d say this one has the weakest pilot episode. The question is, how does Joss Whedon’s “weak” stack up against the rest of network television?

Cast and Crew Information

Eliza Dushku as Echo
Tahmoh Penikett as Paul Ballard
Olivia Williams as Adelle DeWitt
Fran Kranz as Topher Brink
Harry J. Lennix as Boyd Langton
Enver Gjokaj as Lubov
Dichen Lachman as Sierra

Written and directed by Joss Whedon

Original Airdate

Ghost originally aired on Friday, February 13, 2009.

Premise

Echo is one of several “dolls,” people who can have their personalities wiped clean and replaced by others to do specific jobs for hire. This week, she was hired to negotiate a kidnapping.

High Point

“Wash your hands. And your shoes.”

Low Point

Some of the exposition was less subtle than I’m used to from Whedon’s work. I think I smell Fox exec tinkering.

The Review

This is an original concept, with a lot of potential for long term variety. I give it 5 out of 6.

The effects were minimal, but well done. The only extreme tech present here is in the personality wipes themselves, and the representation of such is well done. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story was well done. We’ve got the introduction, though some parts are exposition heavy. Most of the way it works could have been picked up along the way, but there’s a conversation or two early on that drive the points home pretty blatantly. I think it would have been a stronger product if they’d cut some of that dialogue and put back a commercial instead. I give it 4 out of 6.

The acting was nicely done. Dushku pulls off a few different personalities in the course of the episode, while Williams and Lennix bring their skills to bear. It’s a solid outing. I give it 5 out of 6.

The production was very well done, with distinct and moody environments each step of the way. The editing worked well, keeping the pace moving when the “actives” were in the field, and slowing it down when they were back in the Dollhouse. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response was surprising. There’s a fair amount going on, and the technical details are in place, but I just didn’t get that engaged until near the end. I suspect it’s the nature of the characters. I didn’t really find myself involved until Boyd’s storyline started to take prominence. I didn’t know enough about Echo and what brought her in to really get engaged with her portions, but Lennix’s problems pulled me in. There’s a lot of potential here, but some of it seems unrealized at this point. There are enough hints at future storylines to make me tune in again next week, and I’ll keep up the reviews at least until “Smallville” gets back on the air. I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a decent series opener. I’ll tune in again, but that likely has more to do with Whedon’s track record than the content of this individual episode. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Ghost receives 32 out of 42.