Dollhouse 1.03 "Stage Fright" review

Echo takes on an assignment as a backing singer-cum-bodyguard

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NB: This review was originally printed in the Spoiler Zone in issue 182 of SFX and is reflective of our assessment of the show at the time of viewing.

Written by: Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen

Directed by: David Solomon


Echo’s hired by the manager of pop singer Rayna Russell, fearing that a crazed fan is threatening her life. Echo is to act as a backing singer and (unconsciously) Rayna’s bodyguard with backup from fellow Active Sierra, who thinks she’s Rayna’s biggest fan. Meanwhile, Ballard’s contact Lupov is revealed to be an Active named Victor.

It’s an interesting premise – the twist that Rayna’s actually co-operating with her insane fan because she’s so miserable in her superstar life is pretty cool – but it’s impaired by some incredibly clumsy writing. Rayna’s song lyrics complement the flow of the plot far too perfectly, and when she’s talking about how she’s “everybody’s fantasy” and “not a real person” it’s far too forced a comparison between her situation and Echo’s. And while it may be realistic for a backstage environment and you don’t see anything, was it really necessary to have a scene with Echo changing into a boob tube?

What exactly is the wisdom of programming Sierra as Rayna’s fan and sending her out as “backup”, but not programming her with any kind of self-defence capabilities (or, indeed, any hint of backup abilities)? Look how well that turned out!

Topher: “That's enough! You're in my house, Laurence! Of the two people here, one of us is a genius and the other is a security guard in a very lovely suit.”
Laurence: “Alright, genius. Tell me why Echo would kidnap the girl you programmed her to protect and bring her to the man who's trying to kill her.”
Topher: “Wow. (laughs nervously) That does sound kind of bad.”

Leah Holmes

SFX Magazine is the world's number one sci-fi, fantasy, and horror magazine published by Future PLC. Established in 1995, SFX Magazine prides itself on writing for its fans, welcoming geeks, collectors, and aficionados into its readership for over 25 years. Covering films, TV shows, books, comics, games, merch, and more, SFX Magazine is published every month. If you love it, chances are we do too and you'll find it in SFX.