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January 12 2009

Fox's Entertainment Chairman discusses Joss and Dollhouse. Peter Liguori tells Broadcasting and Cable "I'm not burying him in the Friday graveyard. I'm giving him a little bit of a reprieve by being on Friday".

I don't find this encouraging at all. To talk of a reprieve suggests a very negative initial response on his part to Dollhouse. And the preceding question and answer back that up:


Is Dollhouse as bad as we are hearing?

Joss Whedon has an unbelievably loyal fan base, and he really knows how to write to that fan base. I expect that they're going to be there. They're going to enjoy his show.


I find it very hard not to read that response as "Yes, it is as bad as you've been hearing but his fans will like it. I doubt anyone else will."
Yep, I have to agree with dzr that the tone isn't very encouraging. "As bad as we are hearing" is a scary phrase.

However, my (realistically constrained) hope springs eternal.
That question was really ridiculous. Which television executive will say bad things about a show that is about to premiere?
But my point, Donnie, was that given the question his response precisely wasn't what you would normally expect. He didn't (despite whatever personal feelings he might have) leap to the defence of the show and say the usual type of "we're 100% behind it, we really believe in it" which TV execs normally say even when they're on the verge of cancelling something.

So in answer to your question Donnie, Peter Liguori would.
That's exactly how I read it as well, dzr. It's an incredibly dire and transparent answer really - very undiplomatic. They're relying on Joss' fan base and don't expect anyone else to turn up or enjoy it. So, if there's little marketing for Dollhouse, then there's the reason why. To not even refute the accusation that the show is bad is staggering.
Um, there is no question that that comment was not a huge vote of approval for the show. That was quite clear and, since we know execs are very careful in how they word their comments, I take this in the worst possible way. The show has lost support.

But there is even a more telling comment in this interview, which in many ways I thought, outside of the Dollhouse comments, was rather perceptive about a lot of things. The comment was "The environment right now is people do want comfort food." I think this is very true. I think there is a lot of reasons for this, too. People are turing to TV to get away from their problems. It is why they go to see really bad movies over really good but serious ones. This has been such a bad stretch of American life, these past 8 years or so, mainly from 9-11 on, but also due to the combination of Bush administration policies and congressi9onal fecklessness (so, to be clear, I am casting aspersions at both sides of the aisle), that people are not looking for programs that increase their unhappiness, but rather to escape. What else could account for the popularity of Two Men, for example. Or the escapism of American Idol? There is no real investment here; the singers in AI are simply fodder. So Dollhouse has a real challenge, because beyond its lack of support, it has to build an audience by playing to its intellect- you have to invest, and Echo will be hard to invest in. Eliza is not a big name, who draws because it is her. In the end, I do not understand why, if they cannot support the show, they are moving forward with it. And Joss should get over to HBO or Showtime, where smaller numbers do not mean death. Or heck with that, get on with building stuff on the net.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2009-01-12 15:35 ]
Well, the absolute most positive reading of it is, "We're happy for the show to putter along with just Joss Whedon's fans watching, it fills an hour on Friday and we know we're guaranteed a long tail on DVD.". OK, you have to squint a bit to see it in that light but it doesn't actually contradict that reading.

It's generally quite a negative, politicking interview though with quite a few snippy little shots and backhanded compliments to the other networks (I read the 'comfort food' comment as more of a criticism of 'The Mentalist' than an actual opinion about the industry - he's comparing it unfavourably to what he considers to be the edgier, hipper, more appealing to 18-49 year olds, actually quite similar Fox product 'Lie to Me'), seen in that light it could just be that he's a bit of a neggy bastard in general ;).

What else could account for the popularity of Two Men, for example.

I think the 'and a Half' a man has something to do with it too ;).
The thing I don't get is Fox decided to rave about Eliza, give her all this money, and essentially say to her *go out and get who you want to work with, don't come back til it's something you want to do etc.*

And then basically rag on what she wants to do...
I take this in the worst possible way


There should probably be t-shirts that say this on the front and OMG PICNIC!!!! on the back.
Yeah, that response to the Dollhouse question was a bit of a cold shower.

Up until that point I was suffering from a serious case of the giggles, what with his lavish slinging of mixed metaphors, hyperbole, p.r. platitudes, and the party line defense of the dying network model.

In fact , damn it, I'm feeling a tad pissed. Especially since it followed this little jewel...

I feel that we've got to look for the long term and play for the long term, which currently recognizes the economic conditions that we're in but also recognizes the fact that great creativity and great content conquer all. That is what fortifies your network and fortifies your bottom line.


Come on, if Joss isn't creative...who is?

The only reason I can think of for his cool attitude regarding "Dollhouse" is that it probably lacks that "comfort" factor. Joss does tend to churn one's insides.

Guess we'll just have to grow the "fan base" until it explodes.
There should probably be t-shirts that say this on the front and OMG PICNIC!!!! on the back.

And maybe caps with "Ahh, Bees !" on the front (the back could have an actual bee stuck to it).
Agreed BreathesStory--

At this point, does anyone really care what the suit has to say anyway? It's out of his hands now. Its in Joss' hands. I can almost already see a future Peter Liguori lavishing praise on his unexpected sleeper hit...no doubt magnanimously talking about his involvement and how he gave this crazy idea a chance. Wait, not a "chance" but a reprieve.
I don't see the bad here. I don't see Dollhouse ads either, which worries me a whole lot more.
does anyone really care what the suit has to say anyway?


I do. If Peter Liguori doesn't push the show, then it's knackered.
Yeah, dzr. That's exactly how I took it too. Oh boy.
"A reprieve"? That is one nasty snipe, not just an offhand, disinterested dissing, but smacking of animosity/resentment strong enough that he doesn't mind damaging his own interests. I find this very weird indeed.
Simon--Doesn't sound like he's pushing the show now. I wouldn't expect anything more from him leading up to the premiere than what we saw in the article.

I'd certainly prefer he didn't talk about the show with the press in the future since he's doesn't seem to like it very much.
He and Kevin O were pushing the show up to the point where a) a series of problems emerged and b) everyone who showed it to told him it would only reach Joss' base. I don't think that what he's saying was meant to be a slam, but what he sees as pragmatism. However, I do think its insane to be so upfront about it prior to premiere as that will could well lead to a whole crowd of people saying "well, I heard this is only for Joe Sweden fans and I didn't like Buffet the Amplifier Spayer". So, yeah, I'm irritated, just in a more restrained way. I'd much rather see Kevin's opinion, however, as he has faith in his properties.
A big hit, the ability to sell that in syndication, the DVDs, the licensing, the merchandising...

He makes it sound like a network and studio are one entity.
Sometimes they are owned by the same parent, which is close enough, sometimes they aren't. Either way there is incentive built into contracts for both the studio and the network for shows to reach syndication and merchandising/licensing probably does see a percentage go to both.
At this point I've put my picnic meter on hold. I'm just going to wait and see what the ratings are when it premieres. Then I can papicnic.

I only hope they ADVERTISE the show, and actually do air all the episodes. I don't want another Firefly (and definitely not another Wonderfalls or Drive), I want them to at least let the show stand or fall on its own.

At this point, I'm expecting one brilliant 13 episode series from Joss Whedon. If it gets another year, then I will be thrilled beyond belief. If it does not, well we have another great 13 episode dvd. ^_^
The T-Shirt should say 'If I don't get my hopes high I'm never going to be disappointed'.
Maybe if FOX hadn't stepped in and forced Joss to placate them with rewrites the show would be getting better reviews. This Exec talks about his biggest concern being creativity but that's clearly BS. Joss IS an artist and he has a specific vision of how the finished prodct should look. But FOX is so "pro-creativity" that they come in and force him to homogenize his work to their vision; "convincing" him they are making the show "better" with broader appeal, when in reality, instead of "The Mona Lisa" we get "Dogs Playing Poker".

Then, the network turns around and says "well, we gave it everything we could (except creative freedom, good marketing, and a decent time slot) but the show just didn't work".

F@CK YOU FOX! And I mean that in the most sincere way possible. (<- There's your T-Shirt)

[ edited by Penthos on 2009-01-12 17:03 ]

[ edited by Penthos on 2009-01-12 17:04 ]


People are turing to TV to get away from their problems. It is why they go to see really bad movies over really good but serious ones. This has been such a bad stretch of American life, these past 8 years or so, mainly from 9-11 on, but also due to the combination of Bush administration policies and congressi9onal fecklessness (so, to be clear, I am casting aspersions at both sides of the aisle), that people are not looking for programs that increase their unhappiness, but rather to escape. What else could account for the popularity of Two Men, for example. Or the escapism of American Idol? There is no real investment here; the singers in AI are simply fodder.


Dana5140, I'm wondering how the staggering success of The Dark Knight fits into this picture.
Grim but ultimately hopeful (like 'The Dark Knight') seems to fit even better since it's saying "Sure, times are bad now but they'll get better". Dark as it was, TDK was still a hero story.

... instead of "The Mona Lisa" we get "Dogs Playing Poker"

C'mon, that's great art. I mean, it's no 'Tennis Player Scratching Her Arse' but it's in the same neck of the woods.
Joss publicly claims that he decided to re-do the pilot because the notes from the network were correct. Given his bold statements on things like not wanting to be associated with 24 I'm not sure I can assume he was being political about that... Who knows? Only time will tell, in any case; let's try not to get too worked up. Support the show and give it a chance, evangelize in ways that aren't obnoxious, and maybe next time don't start save the show campaigns before we've seen an episode. I quite enjoyed both of the pilot scripts, so I expect to enjoy the show.
Whoa, whoa there. There were clear statements BY Joss that the rewrites and decisions to reshoot the Pilot were HIS decision, not the network's choice. See http://whedonesque.com/comments/17005. In our purple leader's own words.

The fact is, entertainment is a business. There are bottom lines and there are expectations. Joss, while being a creative genius, also has to work within a system of numbers and dotted lines. If he wasn't willing to do such a thing, he wouldn't be working very much, as even Dr. Horrible cost money out of his own pocket. Those who don't want to be governed by contracts and numbers can start their own studios, only to discover that they must live by contracts and numbers.

And to suggest that Joss' vision is "enough" is unrealistic and ludicrous. Nothing ever turns out pitch perfect in the very first attempt, and things will always be tweaked. It's naive to think creativity and "vision" should triumph everything. It's okay if your vision of how things should be is confusing, it's art! It just doesn't work this way. And our fearless leader knows this.

And this isn't minor pocket change the studio is sinking into Dollhouse. This is significant amounts of money...there's pressure here, and one has to look at the bigger picture which is that Whedon fans are NOT going to carry this show. As many as we are, it's going to be everyone else in this country who don't watch Firefly, or who aren't too into Buffy who will hopefully tune into FOX on Friday nights.
winengrud, I see the success of TDK as a reflection of how the public views the end of the Bush administration. The moral greyness, the anti-hero aspect, combined with escapist comic-book fiction. Just like Iron Man, if you will. Or 24, for that matter.

saje, say what you will about "The Mentalist" (which I have not seen), it has been a roaring success. Fox is no doubt hoping that their own take on this (Lie to Me) does as well.

ZG: "Buffet the Amplifier Spayer.' Heh heh!
I think the key sentence in the article was Following is an edited transcript of that conversation.
"Edited"
In other words the interviewer, who showed a bias by calling Dollhouse bad, decided what bits of the answer to quote, bits that supported his bias.

I find it strange that Is Dollhouse as bad as we are hearing? would lead to an answer beginning with the words Joss Whedon has an unbelievably loyal fan base...

For all we know he enthused for ten minutes about Dollhouse and the interviewer cherry picked the only downbeat quote.
True enough zz9.

saje, say what you will about "The Mentalist" (which I have not seen), it has been a roaring success. Fox is no doubt hoping that their own take on this (Lie to Me) does as well.

I'd imagine they want it to do even better in fact Dana5140 (which is why he's attacking 'The Mentalist' in the interview, claiming that it's safe TV etc.).

I watch it and like it BTW though for the most part it is fairly safe, mainstream friendly TV IMO (there's a darkness there but it's not particularly explicit for the most part - if you read between the lines the main character's shown to be a fairly remorseless manipulator of people albeit usually for the best of reasons and it's fairly clear from the few times we see behind it that most of what we see of him is a carefully constructed mask he presents to the world, but as I say, you could watch 5 episodes in a row and barely get a whiff of that).

[ edited by Saje on 2009-01-12 17:27 ]
Ahh, bees! Um... Large smiling gigantic picknicking bees with razor-sharp teeth!

It's possible there was cherry picking, but the pointed use of "repreive" suggests to me anything else was in the same vein.

And in all honesty I think we're in the phase where maybe the much fawned-over FOX Kevin's opinion doesn't mean squat if this interview accurately reflects FOX Peter's
"Whoa, whoa there. There were clear statements BY Joss that the rewrites and decisions to reshoot the Pilot were HIS decision, not the network's choice. See http://whedonesque.com/comments/17005. In our purple leader's own words. "

I hope you are right, but here's what Joss said:
"I was in a dark, noir kind of place (where, as many of you know, I make my home), and didn’t bring the visceral pop the network had expected from the script ... I understood their consternation, and saw the gap between my style and their expectations and I suggested I shoot a new ep ..."

That is what I mean by convincing Joss they are making the show better... He's trying to match their expectations instead of being true to his style...

"And to suggest that Joss' vision is "enough" is unrealistic and ludicrous." Unrealistic and ludicrous? ...Really? What about Dr Horrible? That was Joss's un-FOX-adulerated vision and it was pretty outstanding wouldn't you say? ... What do you suppose would have happened had FOX been backing Dr Horrible? One can only imagine. Would they have recast Penny and not allowed her to be killed off because it was too dark? Would they have let Bad Horse be a horse? Woudl they let Captain Hammer talk about his hammer being his penis or sing about doing the "wierd stuff"? Who knows, but I doubt it would have been as awesome as it was had FOX had their say.

Besides at this point Joss is not going to come out and bite the hand that feeds him by saying, "well they didn't like it or get it so I had to rewrite it to conform to their ideas" not when he is counting on the network to make the show happen. So while he may say that HE decided to write a new episode on his own, I take that with a grain of political netwrok salt because we both know that if the network had loved the Pilot then it would have likely stayed as it was. Now, I suspect that IF Dollhouse doesn't make it, then that's when you'll hear Joss come out and tell the real story of what happened with FOX, just like with Firefly.
Um, I spent many years as an editor, and just because it was "edited" hardly means " ...and we took only the negative parts and left out the rest." More likely it means, "...and we cleaned up some of the repetition and grammatical problems that would muddy what was being said." No good editor pulls out the material that supports their bias (and what bias is at play here, anyway?).

saje: I guess I will have to check the show out.
I can't believe it. Those guys suck.

dzr got that one right. I thought exacly the same.
The interviewer's question, "Is Dollhouse as bad as we've been hearing?" really grates my cheese. If I were Mr. Liguori I'd be really irritated by that. As someone who is not Mr. Liguori, I'm extraordinarily irritated by that. What does the question even mean? Bad in what way? Based on whose reports? Everything I've read, critically, has tended to be on the positive to neutral side. Okay, there have been one or two bad reactions to "Ghost" but there have been more semi-good to good reactions. So what does this mean? Shouldn't the interviewer have used the (okay, overused) "troubled?"

Damn it. Does anyone remember those halcyon days when that first pilot, the "Echo" script, was circulated to various well-known TV critics and their reaction was "fantastic stuff?" What the hell happened? And when did it happen? Penthos, you are dead right in a number of respects, I think.

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2009-01-12 18:01 ]
It's ultimately Fox Kevin's opinion that would keep things on the air, as it did at other networks where he held the same position, assuming all things are equal, which they may or may not be. The word reprieve is a reflection on the negative tone of the questioning and the widely reported problems and negative pilot reviews.

ZG: "Buffet the Amplifier Spayer.' Heh heh!


I gotta tell ya, Dana, I saw Blair Underwood on the Golden Globes last night and a got a strong desire to watch In Treatment. Looking forward to dropping you a line about it when I get further in :)

Besides at this point Joss is not going to come out and bite the hand that feeds him by saying


You mean like when he didn't bite the hand that feeds him by saying he didn't want to be associated with 24?

Also, "those guys suck" is treading on the line. I know we are upset, but personal attacks are not tolerated here. I know, "blowing off steam", just please be careful.
Dana, I wouldn't assume editing that meets your standards. If it was edited by the same person who came up with the questions, I would guess that it probably was not as even handed as one might wish.
The word reprieve is a reflection on the negative tone of the questioning and the widely reported problems and negative pilot reviews.

Yeah I think people are giving this a worst-case-scenario interpretation that is probably not warranted by the context of the interview, specifically the line of questioning. I'm not saying I have faith in FOX, just that this interview doesn't seem to warrant the reactions it's getting here.
The word reprieve is a reflection on the negative tone of the questioning and the widely reported problems and negative pilot reviews.

Or, it's an artifact of the blunt (and, yes, unnecessary) question putting Peter off-guard enough to reveal his true feelings on how Dollhouse's future is going to play out.

No way to know either way with any certainty, obviously, because we are not Peter. But "reprieve" is not a word people tend to use in everyday casual conversation, so I tend towards the camp that reads it as a word loaded with meaning in this situation.
Penthos, I read Joss' 'decision' to revise in the same light. When one fears getting fired from work, one might well say, "Let me do things a bit better and, by the way, let me bend over and kiss your a**." Is the a** kissing voluntary at that point or suggested by survival instincts? Did you really *want* to kiss a**? Does your creative muse say, "Now would be a great time to bend over! It will do wonders for your work!"?
While I've always read the decision to rework the first episode in roughly the same light as Penthos (meaning one of those situations where one "understands" one needs to choose to make changes), I don't think it can be equated with bending over and kissing ass, whedongeek.

The reality is that Joss groks what it means to work in the environment of network television, and he's expressed a good deal of affinity for it in the past. He knows it means a very particular type of back and forth that might not exist in other environments. The affinity is there, regardless of whether it's because of this or in spite of this.

So while I do think there's a bit of politicking in how that process has been described, I don't think it rises to the level of puckering up to a backside.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-01-12 18:15 ]
But "reprieve" is not a word people tend to use in everyday casual conversation, so I tend towards the camp that reads it as a word loaded with meaning in this situation.


I use it in everyday casual conversation, so I guess I don't take as harshly as others do. The fact of the matter is that moving it to Friday nights saves it from getting axed in three weeks for not finding a huge audience. On Friday it has a longer period of time to find an audience and doesn't need to find as big of a following to stay on the air. That sounds like a reprieve to me.

ETA: What b!X said re: puckering up. I don't think Joss was exactly quaking in fear at the thoughts of what would come of a disagreement with the network.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-01-12 18:17 ]
*shrug* I dunno, zeit. You know I was with you for almost all of this ride so far, to date.

But, at this point, I just can't see this interview as anything other than Liguori's admission that they're just going to run out the clock on this one and then move on.

I'll have no problem being proven wrong should that occur, obviously. But I'm really failing to comprehend that there's a positive way in which to take this interview. Heh.

So, I'm off the train, although I won't run off to beat the bushes sounding the alarm either. But, to me, Liguori's passed out of the realm of being able to have his statements defended as positive.
Does reprieve mean the same thing in the US as in the UK? For a second, I thought there might be language confusion...like rubbers or fags or bangers & mash.

According to the online dictionary; Reprieve: a temporary relief from harm or discomfort. And Liguori said, "I'm not burying him in the Friday graveyard. I'm giving him a little bit of a reprieve by being on Friday" All inference and political deconstruction aside, I think he was pretty clear with this statement.
Well, one things for sure. No one is going to say that Dollhouse failed because it got overhyped.

And maybe that will help, in the end. To the extent that people are aware of all this brouhaha at all (which, outside of Joss-obsessives such as ourselves, is probably pretty minimally), it at least has the effect of lowering expectations--and that might be a good thing.
When the questioner in full seriousness asks if a show is "as bad as we're hearing" and bluntly asks if you "buried" it in a "death slot," the tone of the interview has already been set to a pretty negative level. "Reprieve" is hardly a bad choice of wording in that situation, since the questioner already set up a metaphor of a death sentence in the line of inquiry.

It does suggest the network is not all that optimistic about how the show will perform. But we know that already. A reprieve means a delay in a final decision. From what we know, that decision is still whether to cancel, not when to cancel. This really doesn't tell us anything new. It just confirms what they hadn't been willing to say so openly yet-- that Friday happened because they have low expectations for the ratings. A reprieve means the intent is to give the show some space to breathe. Again, it's not bad news because it's not news.
Spin it how you want, "reprieve" is not indiciative of a good situation. From dictionary.com: "Reprieve (verb) - to delay the impending punishment or sentence of (a condemned person)."

So while getting a "stay of execution" IS good news, the fact that this show is apparently already on "death row" is certainly not.

I'm not trying to be glum, bleak, negative, or any other word synonymous with those three. But I'm not going to lie to myself either. This show is going to premier with one foot in the grave and with condeming comments like those from both the interviewer and the interviewee, it's going to take EVERY SINGLE Joss fan's viewership (and then some) to have any hope of digging it out.

[ edited by Penthos on 2009-01-12 18:30 ]

[ edited by Penthos on 2009-01-12 18:33 ]
Was anyone else confused by his slamming of NBC for giving up on 10pm? FOX doesn't even air at 10pm. He talks about House, which they are airing at 8pm. He should have stopped after the first sentence.

As for Dollhouse, I didn't appreciate the question or answer, but it's pretty much par for the course now.
So, I'm off the train, although I won't run off to beat the bushes sounding the alarm either. But, to me, Liguori's passed out of the realm of being able to have his statements defended as positive.


Oh, I'm not saying that its positive :). Its just that everything that we see on Dollhouse seems to be read with the most negativity available without a prescription. I have no doubt that the network has lost some faith in the product (and, yes, it is a product as well as art) and is putting it in a spot where it stands a chance of staying around long enough to recoup the investment. If it does well, so much the better.

I found the specific definition each person who quoted a definition picked to be fascinating and indicative of their opinion on the subject, just as , one suspects, the editing of this interview reflects the predecision of its author.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-01-12 18:35 ]

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-01-12 18:39 ]
No, it is news, because it was said by the one person who can decide its future. it sort of verifies much of what we have been hearing.

ZG, among other briliancies on In Treatment, this might be the best work Blair Underwood has ever done.

ETA: There are just over 9000 members here. If every single one of us watched, that would be of little help at all. The show needs 2-3 million people just to have a chance at staying on the air.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2009-01-12 18:35 ]
I just don't buy that, Sunfire. If that's the intended content of what he's trying to say, then "reprieve" is just not the word or phrase to use there. If we take alexreager's definition -- "a temporary relief from harm or discomfort" -- that's not what one would communicate if what one meant is "we're putting it on Friday so it has the room that other shows would have on other nights".

That latter is the sense they've been giving up until now, I agree. But once they start saying "we're giving Dollhouse temporary relief from harm or discomfort", they're saying something else altogether.

Its just that everything that we see on Dollhouse seems to be read with the most negativity available without a prescription.

Granted, zeitgeist. But that's why I found it of note that I, who have basically tended to agree with your perspective on all of this, over time, changed my mind upon seeing this particular piece. I haven't been reading anything and everything Dollhouse through the more negatively available lens. So I find it disconcerting that now I'm in a different place.

But anyway, I've said my piece twice over now, I think, so I'm just beating a bad horse.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-01-12 18:37 ]
I dunno, its exactly the word I would use, so I don't know what to tell you, b!Xington. I would use exactly that word if the alternative were to put it on a night where it is most assuredly in harm's way due to expectations of its performance.
Generally a reprieve means you get some space, some time. Sometimes to appeal or present new evidence that might change the outcome, sometimes not. The guy's a tv executive, not a legal scholar. I think we should take the general meeting in the specific context here, which is that the question asked if he was condemning the to show to failure and he said no, he was trying to give it some time.

I agree with zeitgeist-- no it's not good news, but people are taking it as if he answered "Hell yes we buried it! Six feet deep. In cement! It was a great party."
I take this in the worst possible way


There should probably be t-shirts that say this on the front and OMG PICNIC!!!! on the back.


Oh zeitgeist how many times must I go to zazzle to realize your creative visions?!

I didn't take the comments in the interview as so dire (though the question was not-nice) until I started reading the comments here. But either way, it's nothing new, right? We knew the network was less excited than before they saw the early eps, and that Friday was supposed to give the show a little more time but also signaled low expectations. I guess the idea that "the fans will show up" (and no one else?) is kind of discouraging, though.

I was hoping that Joss would get a big hit - not because I so need a new series to love, I just want him to do well and be happy, ha ha. But amid all the angst about whether or not the network is being as supportive as it should be, does anybody else worry that maybe the show isn't that good? They were so behind it 'til they saw it, and I have to admit, I've had some doubts about the suddenness of its inception. Like maybe this idea hasn't really had time to mature and he doesn't quite know where he's going with it yet. I've no doubt he'd work it out in time, and that it could become a wonderful show even with a rocky start, and I'd love the network to have that kind of faith (!) and just let it develop and build slow, but I guess that's not how the business works.

But, you know, it could have a rough few episodes and then start to rock so completely and build just enough of an audience that Fox will think, well, we can give this another season and see what happens. And then it could completely take off. Right? That could still happen. Right?
Ooooooh dictionaries! According to the OED:

reprieve n-1a.The action of reprieving a person: an instance of this: esp. a formal suspension or remission of the execution of a sentence of a condemned person 1b. a warrant granting the suspension or remission of a sentence 2a. A respite or temporary escape from some trouble, calamity, etc.

reprieve v-1. Take or send back to prison, remand 2.Postpone, delay, put off 3.Relieve or rescue(a person) from impending punishment; esp. suspend or delay the execution of (a condemned person)

None of which admittedly sounds very good.

However, there could be some specialized industry meaning I don't understand or he could have just used the wrong word. Occasionally everyone misuses those ol' vocab words. *rolls eyes and whistles*

I'm glad to see that the daily dissection and rant is on track. ;)
From my outsider's perch, it sure seems as if Fox has done a terrible job on advance PR for Dollhouse. If the network chairman has to field questions such as, "Is Dollhouse as bad as we've heard?" then the battle for message control seems lost already. What gives? In these days of 24-7 desperate spin it seems odd.

I am also not completely clear on the logic of being put on Fridays giving "Dollhouse" much of a reprieve. How long does "Dollhouse" get to prove itself? A couple more weeks than otherwise? Because doesn't the show cost the same amount to the network regardless of where they put it? If they put it on Friday, it'll be just as expensive to produce AND the ad revenue will inevitably be lower on that lower-expectations night. Or? What am I missing? How long would the network wish to deal with such a losing proposition, albeit a more slowly-losing proposition than putting the show on a big ad revenue night?

I wish Joss would be courted by a subscription channel and allowed to pursue the kinds of noirish, twisted, whatever-he-wants stuff that he grooves to. HBO, Showtime, AMC, FX, SciFi, you name it. Or maybe a subscription online-based production of his work. Dr. Horrible was fantastic, unbounded, untrammeled stuff. That experience must seem that much more freeing to him after this painful Dollhouse process.
Dana5140:
Um, I spent many years as an editor, and just because it was "edited" hardly means " ...and we took only the negative parts and left out the rest." More likely it means, "...and we cleaned up some of the repetition and grammatical problems that would muddy what was being said." No good editor pulls out the material that supports their bias (and what bias is at play here, anyway?).

Considering what a horrendous mess most of the pieces I've read over the past few years have been, I think it's fairly safe to say that far too many editors these days wouldn't even know what you were talking about, let alone how to do it. That's assuming that an editor even bothers to look at a piece before it's published, which also might be assuming too much for most modern sources...
He answered the opposite of what the interviewer assumed in a loaded question that was asked in an atmosphere of negative buzz. The only person worth any annoyance here is the person who asked the question, which guaranteed some answer fans would flip out about. No answer less than "we worship at the altar of Whedon's creative vision and expect the show to be a breakout hit; by the way, he's a very handsome man" would satisfy anxious Whedon fans at this point, and no one in the business of network television is ever going to give that answer.

Maybe the handsomeness answer; I don't presume to know what they find attractive.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2009-01-12 18:51 ]
I'm trying to avoid commenting on the Dollhouse doom and gloom topics because I don't want to bring people down further.

But, gossi has something to say. The magazine Broadcasting and Cable is *not* a magazine where you sell "Lost" or whatever. It's not a TV sales thing. It's an industry rag which other people in the industry read. If Peter thinks Dollhouse isn't likely to succeed in a commercial sense, he's *not* going to stand up in front of all his peers and say "Yeah, it's brilliant! It's going to be This Year's Lost!". He has to be realistic. Also, he's a nice guy, I'm reliably told. I've dealt briefly with his counterpart Kevin once and he's also both a good guy and quite clued up.

I'm still not cool with the marketing of Dollhouse as I think, frankly - they're making misstep after misstep and I think the ratings will reflect this. I don't think Peter or Kevin or Joss are really the core of the issue here, I think it comes down to FOX wanting Action Shows and TV Hit's, and Dollhouse was/is a bit more of a slow burner. It's a confusing sell, and by moving it to Friday and scaling the advertising right back - that's not really trying to sell it. I understand financially it's about Return Of Investment and being prude, but it's also a self-fulfilling prophecy. What they need to do when they pick up adventurous shows -- and make no mistake, FOX takes risks all the time - is to make sure they understand the show first.

Seriously.
Frankly, the question bothers me a lot more than the answer. And I don't especially like the answer.

It's not the fan in me, I'd hate it even if it was referring to some lame reality show I couldn't care less about.
I am also not completely clear on the logic of being put on Fridays giving "Dollhouse" much of a reprieve. How long does "Dollhouse" get to prove itself? A couple more weeks than otherwise?


There was an interview here that answered that question, phlebotinin. The person interviewed was Preston Beckman, FOX's "scheduling guru":

Mr. Beckman doesn’t pretend that “Dollhouse” and “Terminator” have an easy path ahead of them. But, particularly in the case of “Dollhouse,” Mr. Beckman thinks the less competitive Friday night will give the show a better chance to build an audience than a more high-profile night.

“If we put it on Monday and it didn’t do well, we might have to yank it,” he said. But because Fox’s winter lineup should be solid on Saturday through Thursday nights, “We can afford to let these shows run their course. We can give them 12 or 13 weeks to find an audience.”


Which basically means: The whole season. And then we'll see.

And, as for what catherine said:

But, you know, it could have a rough few episodes and then start to rock so completely and build just enough of an audience that Fox will think, well, we can give this another season and see what happens. And then it could completely take off. Right? That could still happen. Right?


Absolutely. I am still convinced that this is the most probable scenario.

[ edited by wiesengrund on 2009-01-12 19:00 ]
Will Dollhouse still run with fewer commercials than normal, per an earlier announcement? I believe Fringe is getting that treatment.

Danke, wiesengrund. I wonder what kind of ratings "Dollhouse" would need to get in the Friday time slot to warrant a re-up?

Interesting comments, gossi.

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2009-01-12 18:57 ]
"As bad as we've been hearing?" For an alternate take, I recommend going and reading the review from Heather Havrilesky a few headlines down.

And I don't think you can really tell much from the response to what was such a clearly loaded and hostile question. He might have been reacting to the implied suggestion that the show is going to be a failure (and that's why it's in the Friday slot), with a "we think the show's going to be a success because we have Joss' fanbase to build on and we're giving it Friday so it can have the room to build." (Admittedly it would have been better if he had used those exact words, but even slick television executives aren't always as on the spot articulate as we think they are).

[ edited by barboo on 2009-01-12 19:02 ]
As to the direness (direty? dirociousness?) of "reprieve" I come down somewhere in the middle. I don't think it's fair to say that this sends a signal of "13 eps and your done," but it pretty clearly says "we have low expectations, but we're giving you a chance to prove them wrong."

At this point all we can hope is that the series does, indeed, find an audience. I think the odds are against a second season--but that's true of every new TV series (their survival rate is comparable to new restaurants').

As for the "it's a new Great Depression and therefore people only want happy stories"--I'm deeply dubious about that. People talk as if the only films made during the '30s were Astaire-Rogers musicals. Actually, if you look at the best films of the early 30s, you see lots of complex, dark material. It is, of course, the great period of the Universal horror films (Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Black Cat). But there are also stories based in dark human realities like Fritz Lang's M or Renoir's La Chienne or Hell's Angels (in which our hero shoots his own brother to stop him from spilling secrets to the bad guys), or Public Enemy.

It's always easy to come up with a narrative to explain why a particular story becomes popular at a particular time ("it's the Cold War and people are fearful of spies, hence people want to see aliens-among-us stories") but they're always pretty dubious, it seems to me. If aliens-among-us stories had flopped during the 50's it would be easy to say "Oh, it's the Cold War and people are fearful of spies--of course they don't want to watch films that remind them of that fearful reality."
Please don't mistake me, I think that the advertising support and other handling of this by Fox has been just this side of appalling (or perhaps just the other side; take your pick), I just don't think anything hinges on what word Peter or Kevin use to describe the move to Friday night.

ETA: What snot said.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-01-12 18:59 ]
Maybe the handsomeness answer; I don't presume to know what they find attractive.


Hey, they are selling the man for his Walks of Sexy Confidence. How much closer to "We worship his handsomeness!" can they get? ;)
I really don't think that Ligouri is saying anything we didn't already know by the timeslot and the premiere date. He is a straight shooter. Not really seeing why we are picnicking so furiously over this. Doesn't seem like the meter has changed at all.

Dollhouse needs 3-4 times that many viewers, Dana, if it has any chance at all of staying on the air. If it gets 2-3 million on the first episode, we won't see a second one.
Amen, snot monster from outer space, on the retro and/or ad hoc narrative fitting.
The marketing perplexes me, gossi. As anyone who follows me on Twitter knows (and this very fact has probably driven some followers away), I've been tweeting commercial breaks during certain high-profile programs, such as football or the 24 premiere. Not a single ad.

When we were as many weeks out from the start/return of American Idol, Bones, House, and Lie to Me as we are weeks out from Dollhouse currently, ads for those shows were everywhere. And now? Ads for those shows are everywhere and we've had only one report of a Dollhouse ad -- and that was during the last ten minutes of a Friday night showing of Bruce Almighty that probably three people watched.

It's as if FOX hired Universal's Serenity marketing people to handle Dollhouse.

It perplexes me for much the reasons gossi offers. This is precisely the sort of show that you need to advertise or you get that self-fulfilling prophecy. In all honesty and seriousness: Is there anyone out there who is interested in American Idol or 24 that doesn't know those shows are back and/or about to be?

They really can't give some of those ad slots to shows no one knows about? Just in the course of tweeting commercial breaks last night, I had two people respond that they Googled for Dollhouse to see WTF I was going on about, and now will be watching.

That's what advertising helps do. Why doesn't FOX understand this?

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-01-12 19:07 ]
It's as if FOX hired Universal's Serenity marketing people to handle Dollhouse.


And then fired 1/3 of them :).
I'm still hoping (irrationally) that as soon as Lie to Me premieres that they turn all their network promo spots on TSCC and Dollhouse. And if those spots are during AI, and seen by 20 million people then that will be great.
Just to reiterate a point I made better - you have to keep in mind the context of every interview. When Joss posts on Whedonesque, he's writing to us fans. When he's being interviewed in TV Guide, he's talking to Joe The PlumberTV Watcher. When Peter is talking to Broadcasting and Cable, he's talking to a hard-line industry rag. Take a look at their homepage. We're not their average audience - they're not asking questions for us, they're asking questions for other networks, advertisers etc.

Bix, I've spotted lots of people online going on about Joss Whedon over the last week or so (I've been paying attention), and then somebody has asked them what they think about Dollhouse, and they've responded "What's Dollhouse?". If Buffy/Angel/Whatever fans aren't even aware, something isn't working. It's pointless us speculating about how the narrative may or may not help the show, to be honest - if people don't even know about the show, that won't matter.
Yeah, the lack of promotion is the real news-making cause of concern right now. It's past time for some ads, and to date one merely hears Grail-like rumors of their existence.
I don't think you can complain about the advertising for Dollhouse because there hasn't been any!

Even one add mentioning "from the Ocsar and Emmy nominated writer Joss Whedon ..." could go a long way to give the show some credibility and possibly motivate those who are not familiar with Joss to check out the show.

[ edited by Penthos on 2009-01-12 19:17 ]
Perhaps the dire answer to the "why no ads?" question is this: Advertising costs money, and Dollhouse "is bad" (or so the apparently tell-it-like-it-is Broadcasting and Cable understands it), so why throw more (good) money after bad?
I've spotted lots of people online going on about Joss Whedon over the last week or so (I've been paying attention), and then somebody has asked them what they think about Dollhouse, and they've responded "What's Dollhouse?". If Buffy/Angel/Whatever fans aren't even aware, something isn't working.

And what that makes me fear is that FOX thinks -- much like, in a sense, Universal did -- that the fanbase is one monolithic thing that will take care of itself, and if one part of it knows about the show then of course the entirety of it knows about the show and will turn out for it.

As if the network doesn't grasp that even the fanbase (because it's not monolithic and unitary) is still just part of "the audience" and it needs to be advertised to, else it just doesn't work.

ETA a response to phlebotinin: That's precisely why some of us, even some of us who have tried to be sanguine, have reacted so strongly to the debated use of "reprieve". We aren't looking at it on its own, but within the larger context of, for example, the complete lack of proper advertising for the show. The entire package of behaviors and rhetoric suggests that they're just not going to go out of their way for it.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-01-12 19:19 ]
Man, if a new Joss Whedon show and Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles are 'the Friday Graveyard', then I don't to hang out anywhere else ...
phlebotinin, that's what I was getting at with the ROI thing above.

b!X, I have noticed that comments made by Peter and Kevin have been almost word-for-word matches to those made by Universal execs at the time of Serenity's release, referring to the fans supporting the thing. We are fans; we are just audience members, and there aren't enough of us. I mean, the 2nd Dollhouse trailer on Youtube has something like 124,000 views, worldwide. Spot the issue.
Yes, I do think they are banking, literally, on Whedon fans showing up. Which is so stupid I need a stronger word. It just kills me that they have such creative minds at work, a vague notion of internet fandom, and aren't at least trying to do something with viral video. Maybe in 2019 they will start seeing the entire board and be willing to experiment with moving the pieces around.
There is a certain flow to the questions. The one before it asked “Is Glee, Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy's new drama about a high school glee club, as good as we are hearing?” Followed by: “Is Dollhouse as bad as we are hearing?” I could see those two questions coming in rapid succession, and maybe catching him off guard at first.

The problem is the follow-up where he mentions “reprieve.” I’ve always associated that with death row inmates, but that's just my perspective.

The only thing I want to see more than the show is some advertising. That is bothering me more than anything.
Yes, I do think they are banking, literally, on Whedon fans showing up.


Have they noticed the small number of Whedon fans?
I agree w/gossi: I don't think there is much value in the whole doom and gloom fan wanking (which this interview just adds fuel for). I wish there was more advertising going on for 'Dollhouse' but it has gotten some space in TV Guide, which is pretty good. Personally I'm just counting the days until February 13th!
The funny thing is you have these people creating this show - Joss, Jed, Maurissa - who have created the biggest Internet TV show ever (and Dr Horrible really is just that - HUGE DVD sales), and they're on a TV show which has an online presence which consists of:

a) Posters of Eliza with her nipples out.
b) A video of Joss 'sexy dancing' which might plague him at Comic-Con '09.
c) The "paper doll" things on the "official fan site".

That's the entire new media marketing effort thus far. I know, I know, I'm not trying to personally rag on those who work at FOX - seriously, I'm not - but come on. This will actually be hilarious in a years time, but right now I'm looking at it thinking... Well. Just, d'oh. Big Media moves slow. I really hope Joss, Jed, Zack and Maurissa make more Horrible after Dollhouse wraps (in a few weeks).
As to the direness (direty? dirociousness?) of "reprieve" I come down somewhere in the middle.

I think the word you're looking for is "dirocity."

If Buffy/Angel/Whatever fans aren't even aware, something isn't working.

So true! I know quite a few people who've loved various Whedony shows, but I'm the only one doing the on-line obsessed fan thing, and the others only heard about Dollhouse from me.
The issue of to whom Liguori is speaking is appropriate but then, also, it's damning. A previous post on this site gave an interview with another TV exec who stated that he wasn't going to watch shows that he thought were likely to fail; he didn't want to get invested. If Broadcast and Cable is an industry rag, isn't Liguori effectively telling other industry watchers not to bother? (I love that people quoted the OED, btw.) And, yes, I still see Whedon as trying to keep his show afloat and puckering up, even as he did make the effective argument on here that he revised _Firefly_ as per network desires and we loved it. Perhaps there's a confluence of appropriate revision and trying to please FOX going on here. I guess I'll just keep teaching Whedon in my film class (even as the film snobs think I'm committing heresy by showing a (gasp) TV show in class) and pushing them to watch _Dollhouse_.... The show apparently needs all the viewers it can get.
So, gossi, posters of my nipples, a video of me "sexy dancing", and a b!X paper doll aren't the three promotional things I should do to try and drum up some photo sales?
Have they noticed the small number of Whedon fans?

We have a mighty roar, so we sound kinda big. From very far away.

gossi, don't get me started on the paper dolls. Yes, what they need is something entirely unlike a Twitter feed they don't use, a blog they use for all their shows together and too update all too infrequently still, $^&%ing stupid paper dolls, and Eliza: Girly Mag Edition.
Those are things nobody should do to try to sell anything other than hardcore porn, b!X.
I thought the whole thing about "new media" was that it was meant to be bottom up rather than top down (there's a joke to be made there about those recent photos of Eliza Dushku, but I'm far too delicate to make it). So if the internet is alive with viral Dollhouse videos etc. isn't that partly our fault? (Well, not me, because I haven't a creative bone in my body--but you, definitely).
To be honest I don't think hardcore porn needs the clever marketing. In short, this is a marketing strategy fit for nothing at all.
I mean, the 2nd Dollhouse trailer on Youtube has something like 124,000 views, worldwide.


Dollhouse currently has 177,729 views. Lie to Me, posted one day later, has 23,681. Seems to me that Dollhouse is doing better in that regard, despite the fact that LtM is getting a bigger advertising push.
I mean, the 2nd Dollhouse trailer on Youtube has something like 124,000 views, worldwide. Spot the issue.


177,000. :)

While I basically agree on everything you said, gossi, I like to point out that Fringe wasn't sold on the internet either. I think their first trailer has still less viewers than the second one for Dollhouse. And Fringe actually had big promotion that could get people to "check it out" on youtube.
posters of my nipples, a video of me "sexy dancing", and a b!X paper doll aren't the three promotional things I should do to try and drum up some photo sales?

Uh, no.

I find the lack of advertising disturbing. Other than that, whatever. Other than spreading the word to whomever we all know that might be interested in the show, there isn't much that can be done.
I think that the whole "reprieve" question is puzzling and ambiguous. If he meant "I'm giving it a reprieve from its current death sentence" then that means that Fox was considering axing it and he moved it elsewhere. If he meant "I'm giving it a reprieve from a future (certain) death sentence" (it that's possible), then that means that he feared bad ratings on another night would kill it but felt that the same ratings on Fridays would sustain it. Whether a "reprieve" is necessarily temporary or not (i.e. death will come eventually) is unclear.

I will say that I agree with everyone in wondering why there isn't more promotion for Dollhouse. But, I take it to mean that Fox is not looking for it to be the next breakout hit (the next Lost or, apparently, Lie to Me), but rather for it to be a solid (Friday night) performer. I think that accounts for the low (nonexistent) level of marketing. (Is that too rosy a view?)
Wasn't Fringe's pilot leaked online in a *wink, wink, nudge, nudge* kind of way? That seems to have gotten the online fangirl/boy community whipped up and feeling that anticipation that feels so good (there's an old commercial in there somewhere).
When I mentioned the thing about the Youtube vid, I wasn't trying to say it doesn't compare well to other FOX shows -- actually, it compares very well in terms of raw numbers, I was saying we Whedon bunch are a limited number of people. I mean, it's enough people to fill Hall H at Comic-Con - but that's not a solid Nielsen rating. In fact, it's a fraction of the number you need. Looking back at it, Universal thought there really were millions of Firefly fans -- the first Serenity trailer even said that on screen! -- but there aren't. So it always scares me when execs say fans will support a show.

What we can do is spread the word, use things they give us - t-shirt designs, website banners, all the things Dr Horrible did so well - to get the word out. Except they haven't given us any of that. Like with "Serenity", we're a fan base without guidance or material again. Yet we're seen as the show's support.
I didn't realize there were B/A/F fans who didn't know about Dollhouse. That's incredibly worrisome.

I know the difference would probably be negligible, but FOX could probably get eyes on other programs if we heard they were promoting Dollhouse during them. I know I'd watch 24 (not my type of show, usually) if I heard there'd be a promo for Dollhouse (or better yet, a 3-minute preview clip or something).

This is frustrating, considering the faith I had in FOX at the beginning of this whole thing. Alas, alack, alas.
New FOX promotion idea: "Free subscription to Broadcasting and Cable to first fan to correctly identify how many nipples are visible in the premiere!"
I thought the whole thing about "new media" was that it was meant to be bottom up rather than top down (there's a joke to be made there about those recent photos of Eliza Dushku, but I'm far too delicate to make it). So if the internet is alive with viral Dollhouse videos etc. isn't that partly our fault? (Well, not me, because I haven't a creative bone in my body--but you, definitely).

New media means if I want to make a web series, the tools are available for me to do that, build an audience bottom-up and in a certain narrow niche, and to have the series have a shot at succeeding on those very small scale terms. It is a way of making a video series, in all the many steps. The lesson that the studios do not seem to have internalized yet is that a bottom-up approach is an entire creative approach, not a promotion strategy for a rigidly top-down product.
While staying out of the ethical debate about whether, in an ideal world, one would use Eliza Dushku's physical beauty as an enticement to watch a TV show, I think it's rather allowing one's ideological beliefs to cloud one's perceptions of reality to argue that nipple-ocious photos of Eliza in a skimpy tank-top are ineffective tools for A) creating buzz about the show and B) getting certain viewers to tune in.

I'm not saying that Fox is doing enough or doing as many different types of things as they should be doing, but if I were a Fox executive and my job depended on getting viewers to watch this show, I'm sure I'd be very pleased that Eliza seems game to get her kit off for promotional purposes. Just as, back in the day, an awful lot of TV execs must have thanked whatever dark capricious gods they believe in for the absurd beauty of Buffy's cast, Angel's cast and, although it wasn't enough to save it, Firefly's cast.

Joss likes telling great and complex stories. But he bows to the reality that, for good or ill, the great majority of us homo sapiens sapiens enjoy seeing such stories played out by insanely hot people in various stages of undress.
Fox is very very bullish about Lie to Me so they are advertising the hell out of it (it premieres against the first ep back of Lost. Ouch!). 24 was off the air for almost 2 years, so they have been advertising the hell out of it. House and Bones are both moving to new nights so they are advertising the hell out of them. American Idol is their cash cow so they are advertising for it.

They are not advertising for any show that premieres after Lie to Me on the 21st right now. There hasn't been a single TSCC ad this year and there hasn't been any ads for Hell's Kitchen either. That will change once they see that AI and 24 are back strong this week, and people find House and Bones next week.
Looking back at it, Universal thought there really were millions of Firefly fans -- the first Serenity trailer even said that on screen!

I've often wondered how much difference it would have made to the film's success if it had simply been called Firefly: The Movie. Any show's "fandom" runs the gamut from insane-obsessive to "oh yeah, I enjoyed that Bunny the Vampire Killer show." I'll bet there were people who'd watched a few eps of Firefly and had begun to get into it who never realized that this film Serenity was even connected.
They should've gone with Mal Captain Reynolds And The Cargo Of Doom.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2009-01-12 20:09 ]
Just to back up TamaraC (not that she needs it), but the reason why they're really pushing 24, AI, House etc is obvious - 24 has been off air for two years (last nights ratings down 30% compared to 2007 premiere), AI was down last year, House has moved night..

Dollhouse adverts will come. Just not quite yet. Same goes for T:SCC, to be honest - unless people realise that's moved to Friday night, that show is going to tank badly. (Also, it's Dollhouse's lead in, so that will effect Dollhouse).
Just between you and me snot monster, I thought 'Serenity' would have gotten a bigger audience if it had been titled: 'Space Ship'. One guy was giving away free tickets (which he had purchased) and couldn't get young people in to see the movie because it sounded like a chick flick to them.... You need a big name, or something, to pull in the general public. But frankly I think Eliza Dusku is known, particularly by young men who have seen her in Kevin Smith films, so 'Dollhouse' has a good chance (except for the whole Friday night thing).
*sigh*
I think it's rather allowing one's ideological beliefs to cloud one's perceptions of reality to argue that nipple-ocious photos of Eliza in a skimpy tank-top are ineffective tools for A) creating buzz about the show and B) getting certain viewers to tune in.


I like me a pretty cast and have no problem with various stages of undress depending on the context, but that kind of advertising just seems so cheesy and unimaginative. My first reaction to a poster of a hot semi-nude actress making a blank / sultry face is that it's going to be same old, same old. I mean, practically every show on TV has hot actors that know how to pout and pose, and often the crappier the show, the more heavily that gets relied on. There's nothing in any of the pictures I've seen that would make me really pay attention or think, "this is something different, this looks interesting." I mentioned in another thread that the old cleavage-y shots of SMG for Buffy season 1 were a part of what made me think it was probably a really corny show and not my kind of thing. So I don't think it's a surefire technique. But hopefully it attracts more people than it puts off, since it's all we've got!
"I only hope they ADVERTISE the show, and actually do air all the episodes. I don't want another Firefly (and definitely not another Wonderfalls or Drive), I want them to at least let the show stand or fall on its own."

-- Yes. I heartily agree. When Firefly premeried and then promptly died, it did so completely under my radar (and I AM a huge Buffy/Whedon fan, so it's even more surprising that it managed to do so). I hope that Fox at least remembers to advertise outside of Whedon's fan-base, and makes an attempt to draw new people in (which may even increase his fanbase, and get new people to discover Buffy/Angel/Firefly, etc.).
Captain Reynolds and the Scantily Clad Vixens of Nipple Planet?
I know avid Buffy fans that don't like Firefly, and vice versa. I don't think they should expect a monolithic approval for Dollhouse from either fan base.

And I can't see how 'reprieve' is in any way a good word. It makes things sound pretty temporary.
Yowch.

That's all.
I mean, practically every show on TV has hot actors that know how to pout and pose, and often the crappier the show, the more heavily that gets relied on.

Well, I agree that if it's the only line of advertising, that's a problem. You need ads that hook in those of us who want the dark and challenging storylines as well as (perhaps even more than) the insanely hot cast. But it's not as if we're living in a world that has been wallpapered with naked Eliza Dushku photos. The purpose they're serving is to get picked up on internet discussion boards and celebrity-photo boards and so forth and, in a sense, seek out precisely the people who are most susceptible to them. I'm sure they're floating around out there doing their bit. Every horny adolescent boy or girl who checks out Dollhouse in hopes of seeing more of Eliza makes it that little bit more likely that Fox won't cancel the show.
But it's not as if we're living in a world that has been wallpapered with naked Eliza Dushku photos.

Hee hee. Well, as long as there were shrimp in that world too, it doesn't sound so bad. And also, yes, I see what you're saying.
Also, I like to add that the second trailer really went in a "dark mystery"-direction, not in a "nipples and hot chicks attached to them"-direction. At least it seemed that way to me. The preview clip from "Ghost" actually dropped Eliza after a few seconds to go into deep meditation with Boyd and Topher. And they weren't talking about nipples.

So yeah, it's not the only thing they promote.
Love your pic, gossi. Has anybody seen the actress on the right (forget her name...) in stuff before? She looks so scarily blank in the photos. Which I assume she's supposed to.
I accidentally read the headline as: "Fox's Entertainment Chairman disses Joss and Dollhouse", and it wasn't far from the truth...
Sounds depressing. And I hope we can see the original pilot on DVD at some point (as I also think that original Firefly pilot is superior to the Train Job). Not that I don't trust Joss in being able to rework the original concept, and I'm eagerly waiting for the show, but look at Dr.Horrible as in what could be done without studio interference....
Um, where can we find this nippley picture again?
Oh, wow, gossi, amazing pic! Is there more?

Dichen Lachman played in "Neighbours", an Australian soap, before being cast in Dollhouse.

[ edited by wiesengrund on 2009-01-12 20:35 ]
Wow, from Neighbours to the Jossverse. That must be some kind of ridiculous-to-the-sublime record.
Debuting on Fox next month, it's a sci-fi series about a group called "The Dolls" who have had their memories wiped clean so they can take on any number of new personas.
"A group called 'The Dolls'". So it's kind of like Josie and the Pussycats?
"Guys and dolls, we're just a bunch of crazy guys and dolls"
I wish Simon, I only have a white horse on a hill and some rain in not so sunny Wiltshire!

I also didn't really know about Firefly when it aired and I'm a huge fan. It's a bit difficult being in the UK, I don't feel like I can effect this anywaywhichhow! I can't even direct people to download it from somewhere (at least, I don't think I can....).
Memories wiped clean? Probably the New York Dolls.
Hey, if the Arizona Cardinals could win two playoff games in one year, then anything's possible. (Before this year, they've only won one playoff game since 1948.) So I'm still hopeful that a miracle could happen, and the show lasts more than one season. But I'm not counting on it.

I will be in front of my TV on February 13th at 9 p.m. watching the premiere, unless I have a game to cover. Then I will watch it later on that night.
Gossi -- all I get from that link is this:

The photo you were looking for has been deleted.

You might like to ask Gossi about it!

I unfortunately spent my entire weekand watching NFL, 24 and stupid syndicated sitcoms on FOX just to see this new Dollhouse ad. If I had a life, I'd want my time back. Hopefully it goes into full swing soon, or you know, tonight.

I actually didn't really care much about Lie to Me, but after seeing a commercial for it during every commercial break... let's just say I don't usually wish doom on shows.
Me too JMaloney, clearly gossi thought better of it and took down the photo (I shouldn't have left my compute to eat lunch).
Lie to Me is getting far less marketing support than TSCC got. TSCC got all of 24's budget plus what Lie to me is getting.
I said this when Serenity was(n't) being advertised, and I'll say it now too--if the network is going to rely on fans like me to do all their marketing for them, I want a big fat marketing person salary check to go with it. They need to do their freakin' jobs, or get out of the way and let some people who know what they're doing get in there.
I don't have an inherent issue with the idea that fans are going to market the things of which they are fans. But the issue, indeed, is one of "relying" on them to do it. At the very least, if they're going to rely on fans, then they need to drop the idea that they can interfere with the way fans do it. They can't have it both ways.
I think part of the editing includes Peter saying "WTF do you mean, 'bad'?!?"

TamaraC, Bones premieres this week. (Yay, Fox advertising!)
Thanks, cabri. This is why they show so many ads. I see the ads, I just don't comprehend them.
This interview reeks of execu-speak. Totally detached from the outside world. It's like they don't realise normal people might read this stuff and form an opinion from it. When asked "Is Dollhouse as bad as we are hearing" his answer should have at least included the word "no". And the wording of the second answer suggests that, rather than burying Dollhouse himself, it's already BEEN buried - and his "reprieve" is to leave the grave open for a while in case they want to drag the casket back up again.

What a pathetic moron. I had some hope that they might just give this show a chance, but if they've got idiots like this in charge, it seems I shouldn't have bothered.
Gossi? Pic? Or is that your scheme to advertise -- direct people to a 'pic' and all it says is to ask Gossi about it. Curiosity factor works! Hmm... (all tongue in cheek, you realize)
I took it down in case it got anybody in trouble. Mainly, me. It wasn't very interesting.
What a pathetic moron. I had some hope that they might just give this show a chance, but if they've got idiots like this in charge


Did you miss what Zeitgeist said about personal attacks not being tolerated here?
snot monster says "If aliens-among-us stories had flopped during the 50's it would be easy to say "Oh, it's the Cold War and people are fearful of spies--of course they don't want to watch films that remind them of that fearful reality." Which is why they did not see all that many stories about spies, but instead saw metaphoric stories about aliens, right? Or something like that. I think.
normal people might read this stuff

Whedonesque≠"normal people"
Damn right. You have to pass an abnormality test just to register an account. It's embarrassing, what with the poetry-writing and funny dancing and stuff.
Sunfire, I think that was just for you...
Which is why they did not see all that many stories about spies, but instead saw metaphoric stories about aliens, right? Or something like that. I think.

Sure, but it's a just-so story whatever way you slice it. Maybe they liked those stories because they helped address their cold-war anxieties at a metaphoric level. Maybe they're just good stories with which to think about a range of "false-identity" issues which would have been equally successful regardless of the historic context ("they walk among us" stories go way back before the Cold War, after all--vampire stories being a particularly rich vein).

We're going to hear an awful lot about programs/films/music being a hit or a bust because of the hard economic times in the coming months (or years, perhaps). But it will all be entirely ad hoc reasoning: "Oh, it's hard times, so people want to be distracted with fantasy stories about the rich and carefree," "Oh, it's hard times, so people can't empathize with stories about the rich and carefree," "Oh, it's hard times, so people want mindless entertainment," "Oh, it's hard times, so there's a new seriousness afoot; mindless entertainment just won't cut it."

"Hey, isn't it amazing my legs are just long enough to reach the ground!" That's the basic logic of such arguments. Without some systematic, controlled experiment (for which one would probably need a parallel Earth) these arguments will never be more than idle speculation. Not that the Faith Popcorns of this world won't con the gullible out of good solid cash to generate such arguments.
"Hey, isn't it amazing my legs are just long enough to reach the ground!"

This is something that amazes me daily.
And my arms are long enough to zipper my pants.... at least on a good day (D'Oh!)
I'm disappointed by the guy's response, but far more disturbing is the question that prompts it. And seriously, the Lie to Me commercials are SO LAME! How hard is it to advertise Dollhouse, by a critically acclaimed guy, with a cast of beautiful people about an interesting concept? I watched 24 (gasp! it had torture, oh no!) last night, and not one Dollhouse commercial, despite over and over and over again that horrid American Idol show and Lie to Me being promoted. A guy who detects lies, brought to you by the people who made Prison Break! They break out of Prison, then break in again, and out and in! It's a great show!

As to Joss fans showing up, my cousin's wife, (and my cousin, though less so) are huge Whedon fans. But when I joined the Dollhouse group on Facebook, she asked me if it was out yet. I told her the release date, but if she didn't know (and she was into Whedon WAY before I was, though I didn't know that until recently), then I fear other fans may be similarly in the dark... which promotion would help with. Heck they seem to want to stick by Fringe, which, despite me being a JJ Abrams fan, and loving the crazy scientist, I have given up on... it simply isn't compelling enough and the main actress is none to good. When you contrast that with the amazingness of Eliza, it leads to a very frustrated me.
Hopefully they'll at least advertise on Bones, because some Whedon fans watch for David.

How were the ratings for Flashpoint last week?
redeem147, it launched to just over 10 million.
Can I say 'conflicted'? Because it's in the same slot as Dollhouse, but those are amazing numbers for a Canadian show and I'm very proud.
So...how well does Dollhouse have to do to avoid cancellation, do you think? I mean, does it have to win it's slot. If it more or less holds its own against the likes of Flashpoint or Friday Night Lights but is still ranked behind them, does that spell doom? Anyone got a sense of what the TV execs will be looking for here?
It's a cop show. People love cop shows.
I dunno. How it launches isn't really a problem to be honest (unless it does really bad, in which case they would whip it off air), the numbers to watch are week to week. I think, realistically, we'll know a month in if FOX are willing to commit to a second series. Maybe two. The sets will be empty shortly as the show is due to wrap filming, and the longer the decision is coming, the more chance they'll come down so Fox can film other shows. If Fox takes the sets down, it's a bad, bad sign. If I had to call it now I'd say 11 or so episodes will air, the remainder on DVD if it's cancelled.
TV execs will be looking for winning the timeslot and/or the night in men 18-34 and then men 18-49 and then viewers 18-49. In descending order of importance.
"Hey, isn't it amazing my legs are just long enough to reach the ground!"

Oh, snot, you had to go down the "short leg" route, didn't you? That's the actual discipline I did my initial scientific research in, studying the effects of anatomical short legs on bilateral weight bearing. And in the end I came to the conclusion that there was no such thing as a functional short leg- because both legs reach the ground and that's what "function" means! So, please, let's use a different exemplar here! :-)

Anyway, I respectfully disagree. Listen, I have no possible way to prove my thoughts short of another national survey, and I have done entirely too many of those of late. But I honestly do think that we are seeing a response to- and here I am going to have to contextualize this in terms of my political beliefs and leanings, because these are my thoughts- the depredations of the Bush administration couple with the financial downturn. People need something. I got my financial statements earlier today and realized that I have lost more than 40% of my savings in the last year. And I am 55, and I will never be able to make this up, and I will not retire when I hit 67, because I will simply not have enough money. Most people I know like me simply want, when they get home, to forget about this, forget about work, forget about politics and the divisiveness that is part and parcel of it, and just "get away." Follow the GSR, watch American Idol, read idiocy like TMZ or Perez Hilton, and not deal with reality. Because lately reality just hurts too much. I freely admit I could bd wrong, but I honestly don't think I am, and as you note there is no way to know, but, there it is. If Dollhouse gets too cerebral, it won't make it. Lost has lost audience, even.

Hell, I shouldn't even post. Between the blizzard we have, the sub-zero temps we have coming, and the financial news, I'm ready to watch Two and a Half Men myself!

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2009-01-13 01:16 ]

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2009-01-13 01:16 ]
men 18-34

And hence, nipples.

I think, realistically, we'll know a month in if FOX are willing to commit to a second series.

That's troubling. I could easily imagine an audience that dips in and out for the first few weeks, until word-of-mouth and second-chance reviews ("I know I was iffy about Joss Whedon's Dollhouse after the pilot, but in the last few week's it's become one of my must-see programs...": I predict a bunch of those) starts building a buzz and growing the audience. If the plug is pulled in a month's time, there may not be time for such a process to matter.
So, what to do? It's not like we can put a gun to the marketing group's heads and demand that they promote Dollhouse. That wouldn't be very productive although it may be fun...

Bones premieres this week?? Crap! I'm not ready!
I don't care how cold or depressing the news is, nothing would make me watch 'Two and a Half Men' (except that one time when Janeane Garofalo was on).
snot, I'm not saying they would yank it off air after a month. I really don't think they will. I'm saying they may bulldoze the sets and start work on other things after a month or two. There will be a weird fandom limbo period with Dollhouse and much fandom wank over ratings for a while.
I don't care how cold or depressing the news is, nothing would make me watch 'Two and a Half Men' (except that one time when Janeane Garofalo was on).

Hee! :)

I just don't believe that most people think "fluffy / mindless = good escapism." If I want to "forget" about the Real World, I want something that totally absorbs me and draws me in. If I'm watching something like American Idol, my mind is going to wander back to my own worries.

And Dana5140, I'm sorry to hear you've been so hard hit!
Dana5140. American Idol became a hit back in 2002. From late 2002 to 2007 the Dow went from 7500 to 14,000. Idol never flagged in popularity. Everyone's house was doubling in value over the same period.

Sure, it's possible that if the stock market had stayed strong this year, Idol would finally have tanked and everyone would have watched Dollhouse instead. It's also possible, of course, that throwing newspaper sheets out the window of the train is what keeps the elephants away.

[ edited by snot monster from outer space on 2009-01-13 01:29 ]
gossi. But presumably if the sets have been bulldozed and the execs have shown that they've given up on the show, it makes it very unlikely that it will be renewed--even if there is a steady uptick in viewership of the kind I'm imagining. Right?
snot monster, I include Whedonesquers in my "normal people" definition. I am basically relating the comparison against the airtight bubble of media executives.

Simon, I did miss what Zeitgeist said. I apologise, this is a 200+ comment thread and I have not read through all of them. I do however stand by my remarks and would like to extend them to everyone who is working as a television executive (which hopefully makes it impersonal enough for you). These people are the thinnest-skinned people in employment and allow the bottom line to get the better of them on a daily basis. They refuse to make the connection between a show failing and bad marketing because they are in full control of the marketing and have only loose control over the finished product. They are terrified of greenlighting a further season of something they're only mildly uncertain will be a hit in case it isn't.

If you are a TV executive and reading this however then you are exempt from this description because you are reading Whedonesque and therefore have a soul.
...throwing newspaper sheets out the window of the train is what keeps the elephants away.

That works. Fact.

Wait, do you screw yours up first ? Cos that's not always as effective. Elephants hate flat newspaper sheets though, just ask any biologist.
Yet another reason to fear the demise of the newspaper. What am I supposed to do: throw my laptop out the window? Admittedly, the mouse could be pretty effective...
Are there any elephantologists in the house?
Are they those guys sitting in the corner that no-one wants to talk about ?

(and I don't know if anyone's tested a laptop. Kindles work though)
So that's why Amazon sold out...

(P.S. oh how I cursed you when I hit "preview" and saw that you'd beaten me to the "elephant in the room" joke!)
Wait, do you screw yours up first ? Cos that's not always as effective. Elephants hate flat newspaper sheets though, just ask any biologist.

Ack! I've been doing it wrong!
snot- well, that was just one example and maybe not the best. But I hold with what I say. Yours to disagree, of course.

ETA: snot, check this out as well, re: AI: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/13/arts/television/13idol.html

Even they have to change and have seen ratings erosion.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2009-01-13 02:00 ]
I do however stand by my remarks and would like to extend them to everyone who is working as a television executive (which hopefully makes it impersonal enough for you).


daylight, it's not a question of defending the remarks. Please don't make them to begin with. Not hurling insulting comments in the direction of others is an old rule at this site, and you've been around long enough to know that. Thanks.
There will be...much fandom wank over ratings

Impossible. Surely not here at Whedonesque?
Hey Dana: well, you might be right, of course. I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm only saying there's no possible way of knowing. I remember once commenting that I found "supernatural" horror movies genuinely terrifying--in a way that stays with me for days and keeps me from sleeping etc., while "natural" horrors (psychos, serial killers etc.) will get me wrought up during the movie, but won't have that lingering quality. The person I was talking to was a woman, and said "Ah, that's because you're a man. Women have good reason to be fearful of psycho serial killers, but they know that ghosts aren't real, so they react completely the other way around."

That struck me, at the time, as a perfectly plausible claim, but I've subsequently polled women and men of my acquaintance, and I've found that the "supernatural/natural" split seems to be completely arbitrary with respect to gender. My strong suspicion now is that my original interlocutor just happened to fall into the "natural is scarier" camp, and that the account of the "origin" of that fear was purely post-hoc.

Now, when it comes to a "gender is the cause" claim, there is at least some hope of putting the claim to the test. We can, at least, see if the claim corresponds to an observed correlation. But with a "the current historical/economic juncture is the cause" claim, how do we put it to the test? If a grittily realistic TV show is successful in the next year, will it disprove your claim? Of course not--you could always say "well, it would have been even more successful if it weren't for the current crisis." If TV becomes even more fluffy and frivolous than it currently is (terrifying thought) in the coming years, will that prove your claim? Of course not--someone else could point out that this is just the continuation of a trend that began long before the economic collapse.

It seems to me that a claim that simply cannot be proven true or untrue is simply not worth advancing.
Well, I think snot's point was that time won't tell
The simple fact it is not provable does not make it not worth advancing. Were that the case, medicine would be out of business. As David Eddy has noted, only 15% of medical interventions have ever been tested, and most research cannot prove anything; only disprove. Lord, we're back to Popper! ;-)

But listen, as a simple point of debate, it is worth exploring even if not testable. We're not talking medicine, and lives are not at stake. Just opinions. :-)
I'm just going to keep going until the show finally airs, and then reflect on what happened afterwards.

Yessir.

...

Man, that's not easy.
I think Fox should air Dollhouse commercials with naked men and women in showers.
Well, it got Enterprise four years.
Sometimes I forget 'Enterprise' existed. Or think I only dreamt it. I don't mean that (too) negatively. Just that I have forgot most about it, while the other Star Trek series are still quite vivid in my mind.
I've never seen Enterprise. Was it any good?(Context: I really like the Dominion-arc of DS9 and Season 6 of Voyager.)
Hmm, it had great potential and they even did a season long arc (similar to the Dominion arc in some ways, just not as good) - it was brave for Trek though, the season 3 arc was basically about a planned September 11th style attack on Earth and how Starfleet responded. Asked some interesting questions along the lines of "How far do you/should you go in that sort of situation ?" but the answers were a bit stock and not as brave as the concept itself.

All the stuff that made it refreshing was ditched relatively quickly too, which I thought was a shame (stuff like the technology not always working properly and the crew not necessarily being as hyper-competent as we see them in other Trek series) and the ending was a real kick in the teeth to anyone that followed it over the four years IMO.
The only thing I loved about Enterprise was that explanation about why Klingons looked different in TOS than in ST:NG & DS9. Basically I felt they were hampered with their 'prequel' time frame, but it was the lack luster writing (particularly that re-set style of story telling where almost nothing that happens in this episode effects the people or situation in the next episode). But, in case you can't tell, I DID watch ever episode.
The simple fact it is not provable does not make it not worth advancing. Were that the case, medicine would be out of business. As David Eddy has noted, only 15% of medical interventions have ever been tested, and most research cannot prove anything; only disprove. Lord, we're back to Popper! ;-)

But listen, as a simple point of debate, it is worth exploring even if not testable. We're not talking medicine, and lives are not at stake. Just opinions. :-)


Lives aren't at stake, but large sums of money will be. If Hollywood producers get captured by a "groupthink" that says "the people only want fluff" then fluff is all that will get funded--which will mean that the top shows will necessarily be fluff shows, which will, in turn, reinforce the groupthink.

The medical analogy you offer isn't really relevant. Sure, lots of medicines haven't been tested. But that isn't the same thing at all as being in principle untestable. More to the point, one of the biggest problems in contemporary medical practice is precisely the lack of testing you describe. Vast sums of money are wasted on pointless (and even harmful) treatments (especially in the "allopathic" world) precisely because people believe that their "gut feeling" or anecdotal evidence ("my cousin took this and it totally cured his cancer!") is valuable.

So...no, there's no harm in BS-ing here about the effect that the economic downturn may or may not have on people's viewing habits, as long as we're all aware that it's BS-ing and can never be more than BS-ing. It gets potentially harmful, though (at least for creative people who are seeking backing for their projects), if it starts to rise to the level of "conventional wisdom" in the Industry.

P.S. you want a good example of why this can never be more than BS-ing? Take 24--an entertainment based on following the exploits of a counter-terrorist unit, which debuted in the wake of the worst terrorist attack on US soil in history, and during a period when the nation was deeply paranoid about the possibility of a renewed terrorist assault. Now, had the show flopped, what would have been easier than to make your argument re the current economic collapse: "Of course people don't want to see such a dark, gritty show about something that troubles them so deeply right now." Given it's success, though, what is easier than to say "Of course it was a success, terrorism is on people's minds and this gives them a fictional sense of control over an otherwise uncertain destiny"
Sorry guys, a) I'm late to this one and b) I always try to read the whole thread before posting, but I only made it halfway through this one. Just wanted to say:

The word "reprieve" is pretty discouraging, but I like TamaraC's point that it doesn't factually reflect anything we didn't already know. The real problem, I think, is that the interviewer (too) plainly asks "Is it that bad?" and Mr. Liguori never once says "It's good". It may still be good, but Mr. Liguori doesn't think so.

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