While it had its moments, overall we've been left unimpressed and unengaged.
It's not that it's a bad show, it's just not very good. We heard from so many people, 'oh, it all turns around with the sixth episode,' and no it didn't. It had some interesting ideas but it was basically more of the same. And while it certainly improved after the sixth episode, it's still not a show where I can see any reason for it to have gotten another season other than it was made by Joss Whedon.
Oh, and it has women in skimpy outfits who spend chunks of their time as playthings. I'm sure that was probably a contributing factor.
The problem, which I'm sure has been stated by many of its critics, is that we can't engage with the core characters. Every week they're somebody else, so we can't build a connection to who they are, because between assignments they're nobody. So when you get major events in the final two episodes, it really doesn't draw us in, because it's impossible to care about these people.
And the non-Doll characters... just aren't that good or likeable. Echo's handler is good. The Doctor is ok. But for all the rest, every effort to give them some depth feels like a ham-fisted job of doing so. There's no art or subtlety, it's 'Oh look, see this person has layers, we're so clever!'
While I have liked Eliza Dushku in some other things, I don't think she's particularly good here. Again, not actually bad, just not good. She doesn't seem able to come up with radically different enough characters to sell the part, whereas some of the other actors do a bit better.
In fairness to her, it's a bloody hard role, one that most people would struggle with. And she doesn't actually need to make the characters that different most of the time. But in some episodes, Haunted for example, she really needed to play a radically different character. She ended up essentially playing herself again, with a couple of odd lines and, given the description we're given of the character by others, an affectation that actually went against what we were told about character she was meant to be.
Also, and I can be sure that this has been bandied about prior to me stating it, probably by people able to do a much better job of nailing the core issues than I - the treatment of the female characters really put me off. They were little more than fuck-toy eye-candy for huge chunks of the show.
Now I'm usually the guy getting annoyed at people making these sorts of complaints, because it often feels as though the complainers are ignoring the truth of the situations, the drama, the politics of the period or setting, etc. And there's no doubt that, if something like the Dollhouse really existed, the vast majority of the Dolls' assignments would be sex toy ones. But you know, I think most of the audience already get that without it being force fed to us every episode. And we certainly didn't need the Sierra storyline to up the ante any further.
Put another way, if I'm complaining about it even though most of it makes logical sense to me, it must be pretty blatant.
It's worth noting that I found the original pilot script to be far more interesting. I feel that if that had been the jumping off point for the show, and the series had followed its lead, I'd have enjoyed the show a lot more.
Instead I'm left genuinely sad that this gets another season, while Sarah Connor Chronicles is dead and gone.