Dollhouse's Online Dollplay
This is the kind of thing I can get obsessed with.
To promote Joss Whedon’s latest drama – Dollhouse, which premieres tonight on Fox at 9 p.m. ET – the network also is launching an online “participation drama” called “Dollplay.” To get obsessed yourself, go to rprimelab.com.
The producers of ABC’s Lost also did something like this, which I also became obsessed with a couple of summers ago, only to lose interest before I figured out what its point was.
“Dollplay” is a lot about marketing, because the minute you arrive at rprimelab.com you are asked for all your particulars. I know that turns some people off and from there they won’t proceed further, but marketing doesn’t bother me, which is why I get like 800 emails per day. Perhaps I should let it bother me a little bit more.
Once you are registered and logged in and all that, you proceed to a page where you can watch a video and then get started. Watch this video first or else almost nothing else on the site really makes sense.
The point of the game is to rescue a woman named Hazel Rose, whom we encounter immediately upon entering the site, from a locked mobile laboratory. Hazel has created a video blog from her captivity. Our job is to watch it and then help her escape from the lab and find her mother, who is somehow connected to the Dollhouse. As they play, fans also are encouraged to upload their own clips, responses and suggestions, with the idea being that together the community will solve the mystery. Fans have three weeks to get to the bottom of all of this.
Like Lost’s online games, “Dollplay” gets deeply involved with the mythology of the Dollhouse, which is a place where people have their personalities erased and replaced in order to play certain roles for which the Dollhouse is well paid. The show stars Whedon muse Elisha Dushko as Echo, a “doll” who’s still doing it for the money, but every so often her own personality ekes out a bit.
Dollhouse, like Lost and Heroes, is a perfect candidate for this sort of online game because it has a giant back-story for fans to delve into. The question, however, is whether Dollhouse will survive long enough for anyone to be interested in the back-story. Like so many other of Joss’ fans, I’ve been really looking forward to Dollhouse, especially after last summer’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog. After watching the first two episodes, I feel Dollhouse lacks the humor and charm of shows like Buffy, Angel and even the short-lived Firefly, my favorite of the bunch.
Still, I’ve seen many shows – including 30 Rock and The Office – get much better with time. I hope that’s true for Dollhouse and that it lasts long enough for us to find out. In the meantime, if you love Joss so much that you’ll watch anything he does, check out Dollplay. You’ll get to spend a little extra time in Joss’s world.