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Archive for October, 2012

Lit List: Dollhouse Season 1

Posted by BigWords on October 10, 2012

Season 1

Rossum Corporation is named for Rossum’s Universal Robots by Karel Čapek. It is the play which introduced the concept of robots.
Similarly titled to the play A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen, which has surprising parallels to the stories in Dollhouse.


Cinderella is referenced a few times when Echo leaves the party at the beginning of the episode.
Topher quotes Hamlet, saying “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Elements of the plot bear a similarity to the Alex Cross book Along Came A Spider by James Patterson.
In a deleted scene, Echo looks at a row of books in the bedroom of the kidnapped girl, though the spines aren’t clear.

The Target

The plot of the episode bears a striking resemblance to The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell, and the antagonist of the episode shares his name with the author of the short story.

True Believer

The Bible Not sure which edition is being read from, but given the nature of the people involved in the compound it is highly likely that the copy in question has at least one illustration of Jesus pulling a thorn from a dinosaur’s paw…

Briar Rose

Echo reads Sleeping Beauty from a book of fairy tales at the beginning of the episode, though the specific edition isn’t seen clearly.


Topher uses Soylent Green to describe Alpha – the film was based on the novel Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison.
Alpha uses the writings of Nietzsche to justify his actions to Echo.

Epitaph One

Topher is seen surrounded by a stack of books, but the covers are obscured.

Also of note is that Joss Whedon mentions, in his walkthrough of the set, that books by Hennessey + Ingalls inspired some of the design of the Dollhouse, though he doesn’t elaborate on which books were used. This is, as far as I can tell, all of the titles in the first season (there are some cutaway shots, and some brief medium shots of characters in front of bookshelves) – as always, if someone notices a title I missed, then mentioning it in the comments would be appreciated. It is notable that two of the specific references are from fairy tales (Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty), while the tone of the series is that of a cynical cyberpunk present/future which is as far from “Once upon a time” storytelling as it is possible to get.

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