The Horse Movie Drinking Game: Dollhouse

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Trailer for Dollhouse episode “Haunted”

We do love seeing horses on TV and in the movies. And we don’t ever want to be too picky and discourage Hollywood from including them in storylines.

But that doesn’t mean that we can’t have some fun. Those little details that only horse people can spot make for “The Horse Movie Drinking Game.”

And I’m happy to report that a episode of “Dollhouse” titled “Haunted,”  which you can watch online , features horses. And some special horsey “oopses.” And not the kind we physically have to shovel.

A little about Dollhouse itself

The show is the brain child of Joss Whedon, who brought us Buffy, Firefly and the singing Dr. Horrible. Joss is good at creating a distinctive environment with complicated issues yet characters that audiences care about (hence the continuing loyalty of the Browncoats.)

The Dollhouse is – bottom line – about human trafficking, but not the 40-girls-in-a-shipping-container-crossing-the-ocean variety.

Despondent young people eager to forget a loss sign up for five years of service to The Dollhouse, where their memories and personalities are wiped and replaced with the suitable psychology and knowledge for the job at hand.

Ugh, Rhonda. The whole premise of the show creeps us out. Why can’t they just join the Foreign Legion or smoke pot in Amsterdam, if they want to forget that badly?

What can I say? It’s science fiction, which is about how technology is the boulder making ripples in the pond.

In the episode we’re most interested in, a wealthy woman has arranged for her personality to be downloaded into one of the “dolls” to solve her own murder. Because she’s certain that, if she has died an untimely death, that she was murdered. Which, of course, is exactly what happened to Margaret.

The middle-aged socialite’s personality is downloaded into the doll called  Echo, who of course, drops into the elegant family manse as a much younger dear friend met on a trip.

Margaret had also been good friends in life with the icy “madam”/assignment editor Adelle who serves as her confidante and had set up the plan.

That’s all you need to know going in.

First, our “props”

We give “props,” as the kids used to say, to Dollhouse for consistent setting and tack. The horses are groomed appropriately for the venue and the owner’s preferred equestrian discipline.

The stable is magnificent, if a little spartan. I think that a woman of Margaret’s means who spends a lot of time with her horses would have customized, even decorated that stable. Not with chintz and vases, but more like stone or rich wood, not the cinderblock walls we see.

Which probably suggests to me that the show’s producers got permission from a public stable to shoot there.

The tack, attire and setting are consistent. “Margaret” rides English. So, there’s not a western saddle or a cowboy hat in sight – even though the setting is southern California.

Racing faux pas

During the inspection of the horse to be sold, a rearing horse wouldn’t exactly be a selling point. The only time I’ve seen a horse’s rearing being welcome is at the circus, during the liberty classes at Arabian shows and when Roy is aboard Trigger.

King’s Ransom, the champion thoroughbred in question, has been Margaret’s favorite horse for riding and jumping. However, his future is in question as her non-horsey widower is looking to sell him.

The horse is said to have done well in the Kentucky Derby. Done well? That would mean Win, Place or Show (First, second or third).

But we’re talking about the Kentucky Derby. In case you haven’t noticed, especially in this week following The Big Race, nothing really counts in the Derby but winning.

Is anyone still buzzing about Pioneerof The Nile much anymore? He came in second.  Or Musket Man, who came in third?

The show’s horse’s name King’s Ransom, I’m sure, was symbolic, but it almost felt like a great racing in-joke nod.

When this episode aired in the weeks running up to the Kentucky Derby, a horse named Regal Ransom was a contender. Owned by Godolphin Stables, which was founded by Sheik M0hammed bin Rashid al Maktoum of Dubai, Regal Ransom had won the UAE Derby. But, alas, Regal Ransom was an also-ran in the Kentucky Derby. He came in eighth.

That our fictional King’s Ransom was a Derby contender, then a lady’s  palfrey is a stretch but could happen, especially if he’s a gelding.

However, there’s talk in the show of getting King’s Ransom back in the Game, now that Margaret is gone. And that he’d be valuable as an older horse returning to the track??

Not even the formidable John Henry, who still wowed crowds and won big bucks at 9, could manage a comeback bid as an older horse. And John took a long hiatus from training.

Not to paint too dark a picture, but a real life King’s Ransom would eventually hit the claiming races. And most likely work his way down from there.

We could only hope that Michael and his team from Old Friends would find him.

Now, if King’s Ransom were a stallion, it would be another story. But even champions turn out to be sterile, like Cigar. And KR could still end up as milady’s favorite steed, since she’s an experienced rider.

The pre-purchase exam

Another “doll” – yeah, remember them? – Victor is on assignment as a trainer/buyer for King’s Ransom. He’s ostensibly looking over the horse as a possible purchase, but actually serving as backup and another investigator.

I don’t know, but I think the portrayal of the pre-purchase exam looks a little off. If Victor’s new personality is looking to buy a race horse, two things are important – soundness and speed.

He’d be feeling around on King’s Ransom’s legs for structure and heat. The horse has been out of The Game for a few years. He might have stiffened up. Or move differently than you’d want a thoroughbred about to re-enter racing training to go.

After all, he’s been a lady’s horse, doted upon by his owner for a few years  now.  Granted, he’s probably developed some endurance from her rides and maybe some different muscling than would be expected in a racing thoroughbred. He probably jumps. And will come to a prompt and immediate stop, a skill that off-the-track TBs must be trained by their new owners to do.

But I don’ t see any way in tarnation that he could be conditioned up and sent back to the track, especially at the Grade 1 level as the show implies.

If he IS still valuable in a financial sense, it’s because he’d developed a show record in his second career with his mistress.

What else?

Did you spot anything else? I didn’t address the doping. Or the fight in the barn.

Feel free to post your comments and findings below.

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