This Casting Alert at E! Online describes Topher, the guy who programs the dolls, as
20s, genius programmer who's articulate, nerdily attractive and blithely amoral. He's responsible for imprinting the Dolls—and making sure they stay unaware of anything. Is fascinated by the science and kind of digging the illegality. Fun to be around but might not be remotely trustworthy.
In this interview at SciFi.com, Joss himself says that Topher "is going to be cute and funny and sexy, he programs them, and he has a very amoral kind of point of view."
And in this interview at Collider.com, he says that "Part of the mandate of the show is to make people nervous. It’s to make them identify with people they don’t like and get into situations that they don’t approve of."
And my reaction is... You're shittin' me, right? You don't REALLY think this guy is cute and funny and sexy, do you? You don't really think that many people are going to sympathize with a nerd who would wipe everyone's mind blank if he had half a chance? 'Cause I sure as hell don't.
I LOATHE this guy, for lots and lots of reasons, and I'm pissed that Caroline didn't scrape his brain like a piece of burnt toast when she had the chance.
The first reason I hate him is, of course, that he's amoral. Maybe I'm weird, but I don't really find that appealing. The second is that he is painfully sexually inhibited, to the point that he is unable to say "erection," preferring, he says, the term "man reaction." The third is that he is a coward, afraid not only of the dark but of any sort of physical pain or discomfort. The fourth is that he's completely immature--his favorite beverage is a juice box.
The fifth is that any humor his character might provide occurs because all those other flaws, which aren't funny, are played for laughs, which aren't forthcoming. He can't carry the comedic weight his role is assigned.
A huge problem--not only with Topher, but with the whole show--is that in most episodes, Topher is about IT as far as comic relief goes. OK, in "Echoes," ep 7, where the memory drug makes people who still have their brains act silly, there's more silliness than just Topher being afraid of the dark or being so uncomfortable with adult sexuality that he relies on childish euphemisms. Otherwise, most of the humor is along the lines of not-blank-slate-doll-Mike making a list of "naturally sweet" foods like "cantaloupe, mangoes, mayonnaise." It's so slight it barely registers, and it doesn't say anything about the character, because the character doesn't really exist.
I really do hate Topher, and I wish he'd go away. Remember how Joss killed Doyle at the end of the ep 9 of Season 1 of Angel, making way for Wesley, who was much less attractive a human being and much less interesting a character than poor dead Doyle? Why can't Topher die and make way for a less amoral, more sympathetic character?
In "Needs," when Caroline/Echo has him at gunpoint and forces him into the chair, I was really hoping the writers would go ahead and let Caroline/Echo imprint her memories and personality over his. So what if it would cause his brain to implode. That would be a good thing! I would love to see Topher a hollow, vacant shell of his former self, wandering around the Dollhouse and cleaning up gross bodily fluids, much like Maggie Walsh at the end of Season 4, after Adam turned her into a zombie--except Topher would have the added burden of trying to integrate Caroline's sensibilities into his own paltry, fucked-up sense of self.
But no, he's still around, programming actives and giving treatments, and, it appears, likely to stay around, because apparently the writers actually think this shit is GOOD and are self-deceived enough to think that thoughtful people will like it too--not just a few loyal fans, but lots of people.
is he really the type of person you want taking care of your imprinted mind? Amorality, I’m sure has it’s place in the world, and perhaps someone who has no moral code is best suited to the job, from the point of view of his employers. But surely the ethics behind the science of this operation, requires someone who has morals?
p.s. I acknowledge that my tirade against Topher doesn't constitute a reason Dollhouse is misogynist bullshit so much as a reason it's just bullshit, period. But the fact that it's bullshit, period, makes its misogyny worse as well.