- River & the crew of the Firefly + the Alliance bounty hunters
- Angel & the crew of Angel Investigations + Wolfram & Hart/Daniel Holtz/etc.
- Buffy & the Scoobies + any number of "Big Bad"s
Is this a bad thing? I don't think so. The reason Whedon returns over & over to this formulation is that it allows for a wide variety of story angles & arcs. He can flesh out both good & bad characters, allowing for gradations of motives & actions that give an unreal situation real resonance.
The problem for Dollhouse is that the mythology is developing too slowly for people to give it a chance... back in the day (see: the first couple of seasons of the X-Files), off-beat shows were given appropriate time to grow & flower. But when shows as wonderful as Firefly or Pushing Daisies get bumped off the air and/or relegated to crappy time slots (like 9 pm on Friday nights, where Dollhouse lives), it's unlikely that this newest show will be given the opportunity to shine.