Picks and Pans Review: Dollhouse

updated 02/16/2009 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/16/2009 AT 01:00 AM EST

FOX, Feb. 13, 9 p.m. ET/PT |

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Ludicrous and vaguely pornographic, Dollhouse is a serious misfire for its gifted creator Joss Whedon, whose subversive good humor previously gave us Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the online musical Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

Eliza Dushku, whose high cheekbones enhance her sullen erotic beauty, plays Echo, a troubled young woman working for a secret operation called the Dollhouse (it looks more like the lobby of a Mandarin Oriental hotel). Her handlers send her out as an agent-for-hire after electronically stamping her brain with a new identity tailored to the task at hand. In the premiere she's an ace negotiator dealing with kidnappers; in week 2 she's the ideally fit-and-toned date for an outdoorsman with a nutty lust for hunting. Job done, she has her memory erased and is left drifting blankly around headquarters, getting massages. It's as if Jason Bourne ran an escort service.

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