After Eliza Dushku signed a development deal with Fox, a casual lunch with Joss Whedon produced a professional reunion. The man who'd given her small screen stardom with Buffy the Vampire Slayer created a new show tailor made for the actress, who'd produce as well as star.

After Eliza Dushku signed a development deal with Fox, a casual lunch with Joss Whedon produced a professional reunion. The man who'd given her small screen stardom with Buffy the Vampire Slayer created a new show tailor made for the actress, who'd produce as well as star.

With Dollhouse, Whedon keeps the gifts coming. He conceives a secret organization that provides "actives" - perfect human specimens who can be implanted with any memory or personality because their own memories have been digitally wiped out - to wealthy clientele, and gives Dushku the part of Echo, a woman who can become anything from the perfect girlfriend to a trained assassin.

There's some theft here, but at least Whedon went for a good area, hitting La Femme Nikita and the favorite musings of Philip K. Dick. His premise is intriguing and its limits seem far off, between the new personalities each week, the original that was erased, and the organization's mysterious workings.

The one thing that could hold Dollhouse back is Dushku, going by a premiere episode in which she struggled to pass as an all-business hostage negotiator. She's in an enviable career position, bestowed with a character range most young actresses would kill for, but whether she's up to it as a performer is another animal entirely.