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March 07 2009

Dollhouse episode 4 ratings. "Terminator" was down 17% this week in the demo (3.0 million, 1.0/4) and "Dollhouse" dropped another tenth (3.5 million, 1.5/5)."

Here's how it looks in terms of Fast Nationals:

Episode 1 - 4.8 million, 2.0 in 18-49 demo.
Episode 2 - 4.3 million, 1.7 in 18-49 demo. 5% share
Episode 3 - 4.2 million, 1.6 in 18-49 demo. 5% share
Episode 4 - 3.5 million, 1.5 in 18-49 demo, 5% share

Is Dollhouse Joss' most watched show? For some reason I've got into my head that it is.
Terminator is dropping like a stone. 3 million? Seriously? 1.0 in the demo?
When can we expect to see the DVR numbers for episode 2?
kasadilla, Tuesday or Thursday. Likely Thursday.
Terminator is really gone.

I figured Dollhouse might go to 1.5 this week, but I do wonder about the overall numbers. The drop from episode 3 to episode 4 is as big as the drop from episode 1 to episode 3.

Anyway, the 1.5 is still not good news. Watchmen or not, Dollhouse needs an upwards trend soon.

ETA: You might changed that last line or your extended description,gossi. :)

[ edited by wiesengrund on 2009-03-07 18:52 ]
Thanks gossi.

And yeah, definitely in agreement about Terminator. I was hoping to see better numbers for Dollhouse, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the DVR numbers will give it at least a little boost for the past 3 episodes. :/
Gossi your post shows identical ratings from episode 3 and 4 so you might want to edit that.
Fixed, sorry, I got excited 'cos Man United scored.
people who missed out on this weeks episode missed a really good episode
Gossi you still have the total viewers wrong.
Gossi, you have 3.5 in the description then 4.0 in the extended description.
Wow, I never thought Terminator's numbers would fall so drastically.
It's not dropping off that much, really. Seems pretty steady after the premier. The problem is that the numbers weren't great to start with.
I agree with gingy. I think this was the episode to use to try to lure casual viewers in. I saw a lot of people complaining about last week and giving up on the show because of it.
I dunno, it's lost 1.2 million viewers in 4 episodes and 0.5 points in the demo. Now in theory some of those lost viewers might have switched to DVR but my suspicion is that the DVR numbers will also be coming down. I guess we'll get week 2s Live +7 later on this week.
The 3.5 million quoted above by The Hollywood Reporter is the demo number, not the total viewers, I believe. That's why people are confused. The overall drop was a tenth, which puts it at 4 million.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-03-07 19:06 ]
If total viewers was 4.7 million and the demo was 2 do you really think that the demo is down to 1.5 and it has 3.5 million viewers in the demo alone?
Oh. Yeah, Dollhouse lost a lot viewers. D'oh.
Up to #14 on iTunes.
Also, I wound round the numbers differently:

Episode 1 - 4.778 > 4.8 (based on final nationals)
Episode 2 - 4.250 > 4.3 (based on final nationals)
Episode 3 - 4.181 > 4.2 (based on first nationals)

(I know, that's totally uncalled for nitpicking... :)

What I do wonder is how Dollhouse is dropping each week in the demo, but the overall rating/share stays quite constant: 2.8/5 > 2.7/5 > 2.7/5 for the first three episodes.

Also, your "3.5 million demo viewers"-theory is impossible: A 1.5 demo rating translates to 2 million demo viewers. (3.5 million demo viewers would translate to a 2.6 demo rating... which is what "Ghost" had after seven days of DVR.)

[ edited by wiesengrund on 2009-03-07 19:15 ]
wiesengrund, you are - of course - correct. I've updated the numbers.
The way you can explain a steadiness in the rating points and share but a fall in the actual viewer number is that around the same number of households are tuning in but fewer people in each household are watching.

[ edited by helcat on 2009-03-07 19:19 ]
Is it safe to say that fewer people were watching TV this Friday than last, since the share % stayed the same and the # of viewers went down?

To what do we attribute that? Watchmen? Better weather? Other shows not being good this week?
Anyone out there have the skills to put together a slick Dollhouse version of the Lost in 8 minutes 15 seconds or What the Frak?." Wouldn't it be great to have something viral out there that would lure/intrigue those not yet watching? Those reels were particularly good at getting newcomers up to speed without being either intimidating or overly-self-serious about the importance of the show (not that those of us on this site would EVER seem overly cultishly enthusiastic about our sainted master Puppythighs to outsiders.)
As a highly sought after male in the 18 - 25 demographic, I was able to squeeze watching both Dollhouse and Watchmen into my schedule on Friday evening. It was not very difficult.
Can anybody help me out with something? I'm sure I've heard or heard that FOX plan to move Dollhouse to 8pm on Fridays next month. Anybody got a link for that?
Watchmen or not, Dollhouse needs an upwards trend soon.

Which isn't going to happen, given that in two weeks it's up against the series finale of BSG. There's no room for a trend here, even if one started next week.
That is actually a great idea, doubtful guest. We would have to make a new one evry week I guess, but yeah it would be a great way of looking beyond the procedural aspect of the show and bringing people in on the whole mythology and backstory of it.

The way you can explain a steadiness in the rating points and share but a fall in the actual viewer number is that around the same number of households are tuning in but fewer people in each household are watching.

I would explain it differently,helcat. I'm thinking a lot of older people (>49) didn't show up after "Stage Fright". The demo numbers dropped as usual, but the overall viewers were missing these older people. Like, half a million of them.
Ah, I wasn't addressing the difference in ratings and demo viewers but rather the ratings and overall viewers.

As for Watchmen, as expected it had a huge Friday opening.
Which isn't going to happen, given that in two weeks it's up against the series finale of BSG. There's no room for a trend here, even if one started next week.

I absolutely agree, March 20th will be a horrible day for Dollhouse. There is no way around it. In order to survive, episode 7 "Echoes" (any confirmation on the airdate for that?) must show an upwards trend, and the "Man on the Street"-DVR numbers must be really great. If it continues to climb after "Echoes" I do see a chance.

Unless, of course, the decision is being made earlier.

Can anybody help me out with something? I'm sure I've heard or heard that FOX plan to move Dollhouse to 8pm on Fridays next month. Anybody got a link for that?

I've never heard of that. Would we be happy about that?

(Probably not. "Ghost Whisperer" has better demo numbers than "Flashpoint", I guess...)
I hate to be a pessimist, but if it has really dropped to 3.5 million viewers, there's almost no chance now of getting a second season. Right now, I'll be happy if all 13 eps for this season air.
wiesengrund, as I read the numbers - T:TSCC at 8pm has a similar share to Dollhouse (4%), but much lower demo numbers (1.0). This suggests far, far less people watch FOX at 8pm to me. So if Dollhouse moves to 8pm (when it's paired with Prison Break in April, which is what I read), uhm..

Doesn't CBS's March Madness start next week, too?
What? They are considering Dollhouse as the lead-in for Prison Break? Not the other way around??

And yes, about the Madness.
I've never heard of that. Would we be happy about that?

I would. Then I could watch Flashpoint without staying up until one am or watching online.
As a rule the numbers watching TV are generally lower for the 8-9 hour compared to the 9-10 hour.
Ah, okay, to explain the minor "wha?" about changing timeslots. Someone posted here (and then it was deleted) a link to a FOX promo on YouTube whose description field (it was never in the promo itself, I don't think) had Prison Break listed in the 9PM slot upon its return. It's not yet been explained, and could of course have been a typo.
b!X, did FOX post the promo, do you know?
Both "Flashpoint" and "20/20" got a 2.0/6 in the demo, beating Dollhouse. Those C3 numbers have to be really spectacular to put it ahead of them.
b!X, did FOX post the promo, do you know?

I actually don't remember. I thought so, but I don't actually see it there at the moment. The promo was for T:SCC, Fringe, and Prison Break, and for all I know could have been an old one. And the timeslot thing never appeared anywhere but in the video page's description column.

ETA that I take back the part about not seeing it posted now. It's right here. In the end, it becomes an ad for Fox on Demand. As said, the timeslot weirdness only appears in the description, so I suspect it's a typo, but it is what caused the rumor.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-03-07 19:52 ]
...Do any of you with more insight into the workings of Hollywood/TV Execs have any anecdotal knowledge of Execs taking outside pop-culture events into account when making their judgements? It seems obvious to us that major sci-fi/geek events like Watchmen or BSG would affect the ratings arc of a young series (of WHATEVER quality) playing to the same target audience, resulting in a slower build in numbers and slower word-of-mouth buy-in (and possibly in interesting week-to-week changes in things like Hulu/timeshifted viewing), but do we have evidence or suggestions that the networks ever try to take this into account when handicapping their expectations of a show?
I feel like we're starting to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic, what with bandying around "what ifs" and "Watchmen" and iTunes/Hulu considerations. I'm mentally rearranging those chairs, too. But the tune I'm whistling while doing it is ringing hollow.
I know we are only 4 episodes in, but Fox supposedly put DH in a less competitive slot to allow it to BUILD an audience. Not looking favorable :-(
doubtful guest, Kevin Reilly isn't stupid. He will know about Watchmen. It doesn't change the fact Dollhouse has lost over 25% of it's live audience since launch, though.

b!X, cheers. I've sent that on to somebody to clarify with FOX. If Dollhouse is moved to 8pm as that description suggests, it's completely and utterly screwed.
doubtful guest, the problem as I see it isn't that Dollhouse is having too slow a build, it's that it's losing viewers every week, at the moment any build would be a good sign. If it rebounds next week I'm sure people will ascribe this weeks ratings to Watchman.
gossi, I may be misunderstanding you, so apologies if this clarification is unnecessary. In asking about whether the networks took this stuff into consideration, I wasn't trying to snark on the intelligence of the network brass; I was straightforwardly asking if anyone knew how this sort of thing was taken into account...I assume that there are many things that the execs know or strongly suspect are affecting the numbers of any of their shows but which they find themselves unable to find practical or concrete measures for/demonstrations of...I truly have no idea how they go about factoring this into their decisions (or explaining it to their advertisers).
doubtful guest, sorry, I wasn't meaning to suggest you were with the snark - I just wanted to clarify for people that these things are taken into account. Obviously, at the end of the day though the only thing that matters (from a business perspective) is the numbers, because it translates into money.

From a creative perspective, the only thing that matters is if anybody ends up loving the show. Right now, I'm not feeling a love, but I'm pretty sure it will come from some people, around about episode 7.
I think a lot more about a potential build will be known when we consider DVR numbers. In order to do well on Fridays, it needs to be a "destination" show, which BSG is for a good number of sci-fi geeks. That won't be the case until (or unless) people get hooked through alternative means.
I'm not sure if TV schedulers ever pull shows to avoid film openings. They can air re-runs against big TV events - The Oscars/superbowl etc - but I'm blanking on any examples of changes for films. I'd be very intrigued if FOX did something to move Dollhouse away from the BSG finale as moving a network show to escape the impact of a cable show would also be a pretty rare event.
Somebody has compared the opening 4 episodes of Dollhouse to Buffy The Vampire Slayer on The WB is 1997. Click here.

helcat, I've asked FOX directly if they will be moving Dollhouse to counter Battlestar taking it's viewers - they said no.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-03-07 20:28 ]
Which would be fine if FOX was in the position of the WB in 1997.
helcat, The WB was a teeny tiny network in 1997, pretty much.

FOX got beaten by "MyNetworkTV" last night. I don't even know who MyNetworkTV are.
Exactly, so Dollhouse being on a par with Buffy is not reassuring, it's actually something of a disaster. If FOX really did get beat by MyNetworkTV (the network that emerged from the affiliates that lost out when the CW formed) then it may even be worse than a disaster.
Face it, we're screwed. Mix in a little rectal surgery and it's the best day ever.
helcat, I think MyNetworkTV may have also beaten NBC too. NBC were battling off Univision the other day. The fact is, big media (bar CBS) are really struggling to hold on to Broadcast at the moment.
Gossi, you don't want to know who MyNetworkTV are, is, whatever. They show lame game shows and sad little soap operas. *sigh*

Does anyone know if Fox would consider moving Dollhouse to Tuesday following American Idol? That would definitely improve the ratings, wouldn't it? Which is, honestly, a very sad reflection on society today. *even bigger sigh*
but if it has really dropped to 3.5 million viewers, there's almost no chance now of
getting a second season.

That's just not true; on a Friday at 9 on Fox, its still not getting bad numbers. What's important is whether it holds steady/grows or trends further down. Its too early to call it, and Reilly intends to air all 13. Lat I heard the show was getting good enough demo numbers for the advertisers to stay happy and happy advertisers = happy network.
zeitgeist, for FOX to pay for two original action dramas and get beaten by MyNetworkTV... It's not good, no matter how it's spun.

A year ago FOX aired a House repeat and got several million more viewers. This year they've paid several million dollars instead and are now getting knocked out of the big networks for the night.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-03-07 20:58 ]
I'm not saying that its good to get beaten by MyNetworkTV and I don't think anyone else is. What I am saying is that the networks, aside from a few blockbusters, just aren't pulling the ridiculous shares they used to, so 3.5M eyeballs isn't the tragedy that some folks are making it out to be. The important thing is did Fox lose to MyNetworkTV in the 9 o'clock hour and did Fox lose out in the demo in the 9 o'clock hour. Can you link to where Fox lost overall (I'm assuming its overall, in which case its a little misleading and alarmist in this particular thread) to MyNetworkTV? You have the most schizophrenic relationship to this show, sir :). I'm sure coming in fourth among the big four is not what they are aiming for and I'm sure that Dollhouse needs to gain viewers, but I do think the numbers are maintaining well enough that we could see a rebound given that its expected to be allowed to air all 13. Will that save it? Maybe, maybe not.
Overall FOX got 3.3 million. I don't have this weeks MyNetworkTV stats to hand as they aren't out yet, but last week it got 4 million viewers.
Ahh, it was WWE, that explains it. And I assume we are talking live eyeballs. Its also important to note that the MyNet figure of 3.996M is not the live number, but the Live+SD and that in the demo they were a 1.4.
Maybe after 5 and 6 air, and everyone catches up on Hulu after getting over Watchmen and BSG, etc....everyone will tune in for episode 7 live, and the turn out will be huge and save it. I think that could save it. But that's based on absolutely nothing. Anyone else think this is plausible? Is it too late by episode 7 or 8 for FOX to make a decision?

[ edited by narky on 2009-03-07 21:19 ]
Doubtful Guest, that is an awesome idea! We should do a world wide competition of who makes the best 'catch up' video for Dollhouse. They should go for the humor/satire because then I think it comes under the 'fair use' clause. And then we can promote the hell out of the show by putting up these youtube videos all over the place online. So who is going to step up and do it? Anyone?
I can't honestly say I'm surprised at any of this. We all pretty much knew this would happen as soon as it was announced the show would be airing on Friday. Has Fox ever had a show make it on Friday other than the X Files?

They really should have kept to the original plan of pairing it with 24 on Mondays.
Okay, just heard back from FOX - they have indeed typo'ed that Youtube video. Prison Break becomes the Dollhouse lead in from 17th April.
On a Monday it would've been axed between getting the second weeks C3 numbers and ep3 airing unless it did significantly better than its doing. I'm happy that I'll be able to watch S1 without waiting for the DVD, myself.
That's true zeitgeist, assuming the show would have gotten similar numbers on Monday that it's getting now, but I'm still of the mind that paired with a strong show like 24, it would be getting much higher numbers. I could be wrong, but that has been my feeling all along.

Right now, I'm just trying to prepare myself for the strong possibility that one season is all we'll get and I will definitely be glad to get that. If somehow, this turns around and a second season does happen, then that will be an extremely pleasant surprise.
So Dollhouse increases 50% in the demo over it's leadin. How many shows pull that feat off? That's to show how these numbers can be spun any which way. And they will be spun and the ratings from episodes in the upcoming weeks will be spun to support whatever decision Reilly and co. are already leaning toward. That's how it works. The execs will be fed the info that the people working below them think they want to hear in order to bolster existing bias.

The problem is we don't know which way they are leaning and can only speculate based off of bits and pieces and turns of phrase. It's all highly unscientific and unpredictable and arbitrary. However, the DVD is going to rock. That I know for a fact. :-)
...I was not aware of the "beat by MyNetworkTV" thing, but it brings up a thought (afraid it's another one of those speculative-have-no-idead-if-the-networks-factor-this-stuff-in things, and apologies in advance to anyone who resembles the folks I'm about to characterize as "shut-ins"):

Y'ever stay home sick from work/school and wonder who watches all the wierd daytime programming that makes Judge Judy and Passions look like Eugene O'Neill? and then you realize that all the ads are for disability lawyers and commemmorative plates and you realize that you've entered the shut-in zone: the programming aimed at all those people (and we've all probably got a beloved extended family member who sorta falls into this camp) who are chronically homebound and not particularly canny. Some are elderly, some have true and unfortunate disabilities, some are at the true a** end of the economic spectrum. Now, especially when you factor economics, fixed incomes, and such into this and realize there is still a huge chunk of people who truly cannot afford cable (as opposed to those hip young souls who either temporarily can't budget or don't choose to budget cable or similar),and who watch whatever is broadcast that is the least unsettling to their comprehesion level. As more, for lack of a better word, sophisticated viewers flee in greater numbers to cable, the web, movie premieres, whatever on a relatively low-viewer night like Friday, the shut-in category of viewers comes to represent a larger and larger fraction of the broadcast-watching audience, and they are watching nice safe fare on MyNetworkTV or whatever.

If that were true, there is one level on which this particular chunk of the audience becomes a somewhat artificial comparison point for the success of fare on the more high-cachet networks (appropriate irony that Fox falls into this category). If this were true, and I were the network numbercruncher whiz kid, I would be much more impressed by X sets of eyeballs on a small interesting show on Fox than on 2X sets of eyeballs on "MyNetworkTV."

Though it may sound unbelievable, my goal here is not to snark the "shut-ins" for their taste, but to ask about a trend I suspect. At the same time (full disclosure), one piece of evidence that leads me to wonder about this is that, while I have friends, family members, and co-workers who I respect, but who have, by my snobbish standards, absolutely awful taste in television and other media, I really don't recall any of them raving about "MyNetworkTV" or some of the other stuff you see on some of these off-brand networks so I'm at a bit of a loss for who watches this stuff.

P.S. I would not think that the WB, circa 1997, would fit my definition of an "off-brand network" -- it was small (hence I agree with the point above about comparing early Buffy ratings to Dollhouse Ratings) but it was a new network aggressively trying to carve out an enviable niche, which is a different sort of thing.

ETA: ok, gotta admit that, if it was WWE that was on MyNetworkTV, that undercuts a good chunk of my argument -- that is exactly the sort of program my snobbish standards abhor but that is still "real" rather than "shut-in" TV.

[ edited by doubtful guest on 2009-03-07 21:45 ]
TamaraC, ratings aren't always unscientific. When a show gets significantly less than the network's 18-49 average, it almost always gets canned. Like, 98% of the time.

doubtful, MyNetworkTV has WWE Wrestling against Dollhouse. Wrestling is hugely successful.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-03-07 21:44 ]
Out of interest at any stage have FOX issued any press releases spinning the Dollhouse numbers in a positive way?

As for MyNetworkTV beating NBC some nights that is also evidence of the ratings disaster that NBC has become this season.
gossi, the decision they make won't be scientific, but it may have been informed by select pieces of scientific information. And if you have an average, something has to be at the low end. Correct? I'm not arguing that Dollhouse won't be canceled. I'm arguing that it won't be a scientific process (ie. possible to be duplicated or predicted by us) that leads to that decision. It will be a human/political decision probably already determined.

Talk about MyNetworkTV is silly. They have one show. Wrestling. Wrestling on Friday nights is a (at least) 4 decade long tradition. It doesn't matter what network it is on, the same folks will tune into wrestling on Friday nights no matter what. It is a constant and should be ignored in any evaluation of other shows on Friday nights.

[ edited by TamaraC on 2009-03-07 22:40 ]
Yes, I too was out at Watchmen and missed both shows.

But when I got home I watched them both on my DVR and thought they were the best episodes in a while. Terminator has been too caught up with Sarah Conner lately and I was glad to see an episode about the other characters.

I still like the second Dollhouse best, but I always loved the most dangerous game scenario.
Tamara, whilst human/political decisions absolutely play a part - just look at Terminator returning for these back 9 - I think it's absolutely possible to determine if a show is coming back from outside in most cases. Because - well - it is. I think Dollhouse can accurately be termed 'on the bubble'. Financially, for the network, it would be a huge gamble - but if there's support behind the curtains, it'll come back. I don't honestly think it has the support from what I've seen, but we'll see.

I, too, was at Watchmen.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-03-07 22:52 ]
I agree that most cases it is possible to determine and I agree that TSCC is done for. *sheds a tear* Dollhouse seems to be a different case and I agree with the poster over at TVbythenumbers who keeps saying that it comes down to whether or not Fox wants a scripted Friday night or not. If they strategically think that a scripted Friday night is in their best interest then they should keep DH for next season. If they are going to throw up their hands and cede the night to reality drek then cancel it now.
Clearly they need Eliza and Tahmoh doing more WWE-inspired action sequences, like the chair-hitting scene. I say piledriver, stat.
TSCC is sinking, and DH, while getting less viewers too, also picks up 50% more people in the demo than TSCC does.

Some of DH's dropoff can be attributed to its lead-in getting weaker ratings now: with fewer people watching the 8pm show, there are fewer people to get "hooked" into the 9pm show.
One of the reasons that TSCC is dropping so fast is that the network has publicly not given it support, so people are beginning to tune out knowing it will not be back. While I firmly believe that DH will also not b e renewed, what is keeping the network from coming out and saying so is that (1) it involves Joss and they know better than to piss off his fanbase, (2) they haven;t anything to put on its stead, and (3) they hope to see growth from Ep 6 on, maybe. As I noted elsewhere, last night I never got to see either TSCC or DH since both were pre-empted for local girl's basketball- you do NOT to that to shows that are hits. They were then broadcast at close to 11 for TSCC and midnight for DH, meaning, no viewers for either.
I think you're absolutely on the money, T. The loss of T:TSCC puts FOX's Friday schedule into disarray, so it's up to them to figure out what they want next season. That said, if Dollhouse continues to slip week to week I can't see it coming back regardless. If Dollhouse picks up over the next month or two, it's up to politics and belief.

Dana, FOX would never come out and say they plan to keep Dollhouse 'cos they don't want to piss us off. They don't give a flying fuck what we think. What are we gonna do, write them a letter? The reality is, they're waiting it out for now.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-03-07 23:29 ]
Dana5140, I don't think the pre-emption of a Friday night show in the 86th biggest TV market in the US is anything to really be concerned about. And it certainly wasn't a network decision.
Are there any upcoming Joss-written/directed episodes that may boost the ratings?
What are we gonna do, write them a letter?

Dude, what century are you living in? We're gonna blog about them! With snark!

They're trembling in their boots!
Riker, why would you think that a Joss written episode would boost ratings? Do you think that millions of people actually notice who writes the eps? Dozens of people pay attention to that kind of thing, not millions. People don't think, "Hmmm, let's look and see who will be writing next week's episode of Dollhouse. Then I'll decide if I want to watch or not."

It won't affect the ratings.
Yeah, that won't matter for ratings. But informationally, March 20 is a Joss-penned (but not directed) episode, and then the finale is supposed to be written and directed.
TamaraC, it's not because it's written by Joss. It's because Eliza and Joss promised it would be incredibly better after that episode.
1. What are the chances that Dollhouse picks up a significant chunk of the BSG audience after the latter's finale? The timing also coincides with eps that are supposed to let Joss' vision truly shine.

2. Anyone have a general idea on the cost of a Dollhouse episode? Demographics and advert revenue are key but so is cost. I seem to recall the cancellation of Firefly being in part because of how expensive the show was, specifically all the high quality CGI.

3. FOX executives are well aware of Joss' devoted fans and their eagerness to throw money at DVD's and all things Joss. This should make Dollhouse DVR numbers sexier to them than other shows' numbers. They offer "reasonable" expectations of ancillary revenue to any advertising [shortfall of] revenue they are currently [not] making for a Friday night.

4. While interviews with FOX executives have been anything but glowing, I can honestly say that I have seen more promos for Dollhouse than I ever saw for Firefly. That pleases me.

I am optimistic. I think the episodes are improving. For the first time "Gray Hour" gave me an engagement that was fun and interesting, and thus a complete episode worth watching. I think this has to be the norm for Dollhouse to reach beyond the core of Whedon fans. Mythology is great, and absolutely the foundation of Joss' shows, but it was the only thing of interest to me in the first three episodes.

Final thoughts:

I don't have any problem connecting with the character of Echo. Even with the wipes, we are still getting to see her grow. And I am sure we will see plenty of Caroline as season 1 proceeds.

If I have one eensy teensy bit of concern about the Dollhouse premise, it is that I am 100% certain that 95%+ of engagements would be for the singular purpose of love/romance/sordid worshipful sex.

I don't wan't a five minute explanation at the beginning of every episode arguing for why a doll is necessary, but I do want to "feel" that their involvement is reasonable. Echo as a midwife? Sure I can rack my brain to find plausible explanations, but this is not just a throwaway for me, it is a disconnect.

[ edited by lottalettuce on 2009-03-08 00:11 ]

[ edited by lottalettuce on 2009-03-08 00:14 ]
Ug. I just hope that the drop was because of Watchmen. Very sad for Terminator, and getting depressed about Dollhouse. Still have some slight hope for Dollhouse though... but I ain't holdin my breath.
What are the chances that Dollhouse picks up a significant chunk of the BSG audience after the latter's finale? The timing also coincides with eps that are supposed to let Joss' vision truly shine.

Considering that it's only a fraction of BSG fans who have to choose between BSG and Dollhouse at the moment I'd say there's very little chance of a significant audience gain due to this.

3. FOX executives are well aware of Joss' devoted fans and their eagerness to throw money at DVD's and all things Joss. This should make Dollhouse DVR numbers sexier to them than other shows' numbers. They offer "reasonable" expectations of ancillary revenue to any advertising [shortfall of] revenue they are currently [not] making for a Friday night.

FOX the network have paid for the show, they aren't getting anything back directly other than the ad revenue, FOX the producers get the money from DVDs. Now the lure of great DVD sales could lead the production arm to offer the next season at a discount to the network but I think it'd be highly unusual if they did anything to offset the money the network has already paid for season 1.

I was just looking at the official Dollhouse site and saw a "Whose songs are those?" link. Took me to Kimberly Cole's myspace page and immediately started playing "Superstar" which is the main song from episode 3 "Stage Fright". Apparently that was just one of three songs she contributed to the episode.

Then I tried to watch the sneak peak of her appearance in the self-same epsisode that she so excitedly linked for her fans and I got Pffhhhtttt! "This video has been removed due to terms of use violation".

So immediately I go from total admiration of FOX's ability to network the show to @#!@@!. Dunno if it is their fault or someone else's but that was just sad.

Seriously? In todays market, the network gets nothing from DVD sales other than the hope of expanding viewership for future seasons? What about viewers like me that don't watch shows like "24" or "Lost" each week because it is just sooooooo much more easy and enjoyable to wait and watch several eps at a time on DVD.
That's the current business model. The cost to the network should fall when the production side can expect DVD to help cover the cost but currently they still prefer the model whereby the network covers production costs and then they get more profit when the DVD sales come in.
lottalettuce, the entities that make the show and air the show are different. 20th Century Fox Television makes the show and will get the DVD revenue stream and a license fee from Fox Broadcasting. Fox Broadcasting company airs the show and gets the advertising revenue stream. They keep completely separate books and are completely separate companies even though they are owned by the same parent company.

20th makes shows for many different networks to air. Burn Notice on USA, How I Met Your Mother and The Unit on CBS, My Name is Earl on NBC, Boston Legal and Better off Ted on ABC. And Fox Broadcasting buys shows from other studios. House is from Universal, TSCC and Fringe is from Warner Brothers. All the reality stuff is made by other studios/production companies including American Idol.

Long story, short. They are separate companies.
Well, they apparently also have a chance on reduced prices for the next season:

Now the lure of great DVD sales could lead the production arm to offer the next season at a discount to the network but I think it'd be highly unusual if they did anything to offset the money the network has already paid for season 1.

I hope that FOX the production company and Fox the Network being part of the same corp might try to find a way to make get it to work if they think Dollhouse would really add very significant merchandise revenue (especially if they would offset higher production cost while the show keeps pulling in higher number than cheap reality crap would). Not that sure though :(. Dollhouse also seems a bit less merchandise friendly than Buffy, Angel and Firefly were.

Looking forward to watching the fourth ep. nicee to hear so many positive reactions.

ETA: Hadn't read TamaraC comment yet. I'm affraid you're right. Though I have read a lot of stories about things like the WB not renewing Angel partly because it was owned by FOX and FOX reviving Family Guy because of merchandise sales and keeping renewing the Simpsons for similar reasons, so maybe sometimes there is are some exceptions. Afraid Dollhouse won't even be that special merchandise wise though :(.

Oh and Gossi FOX responded to your letter with an actual anwser? (Not that you're crazy for trying, actually I love you for trying, just a tiny bit suprised they had the decency to respond and not just in a thank you for your thoughts... way) What did they say exactly?

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2009-03-08 01:07 ]

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2009-03-08 01:07 ]
Just a few thoughts:

gossi, I'm sorry to say that I agree fully with you; the network could give a fark about us devoted Whedon fans. However, I agree with you lottalettuce, I think that DVD sales should give at least some incentive for Fox to consider renewal. If they are expecting Firefly numbers, then I'd say the show has a decent chance for renewal.

And finally, my favorite thing about this episode:

What I like about Joss shows - and it's sort of become a dying art form - is his ability to use the "less is more" technique in his psychological horror. Alpha frightened me more in this episode than in any other - and we never see him once. (Much like the Reavers.) I was scared because Topher was scared.

Oh, and I also see Boyd as a Giles/Willow hybrid - in that he assumes both the father roll, and the emotional in for the audience. I think I loved Echo in this episode a little more just because Boyd did.

So far: Loving the Hell out of this show!!!!

Guess I was a little all over the place with this post :P

[ edited by crhobbs42 on 2009-03-08 01:07 ]
I'm not going to worry about Dollhouse's ratings until episode 6 airs. Episode 1-5 are just time fillers before FOX starts showing the Joss episodes! You know, the good episodes!:)
Tamara, I know all that. My point was, even a small market won't pre-empt a big ratings hit for girl's basketball- and I have nothing against girl's basketball.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2009-03-08 14:48 ]
Take this for what it's worth, or not worth: Over on TVbtN, mysterious commenter Nick C claims to have asked Kevin Reilly about the "special airing" idea and was told they were thinking about it, but apparently for one of the later episodes.
"little Green Kid"

I agree that the show is likely to get even better at episode six, but I worry that by then it may be too late. With a combination of poor (and falling) numbers for the first five weeks, and the fact that no one may be left to see it by then (except us), I fear it may be a case of too little, too late.

[ edited by crhobbs42 on 2009-03-08 01:32 ]
Dana, aye. Locals shouldn't be pre-empting it for girl's basketball really. But, uhm, hey. By the way, I wasn't meaning to sound abusive regarding FOX above - I just reread my post - I just honestly think their worry about Joss fans is minimal to non-existent. As it should be, really, 'cos I don't want to be worrying anybody except myself.

b!X, he said they were looking at airing ep 6 after AI a few weeks ago. They're not. I actually went straight to him and asked, and they're not. I don't know who that dude is, just he's a funny guy. He's saying there's a 33% chance now. Nice odds!

[ edited by gossi on 2009-03-08 01:32 ]
One more random thought about the MyNetworkTV ratings: The network basically no longer exists as of next fall. Every single first-run show they air is being canceled or not being renewed, except for WWE Friday Night Smackdown.

Smackdown is in the first year of a two year deal. There is real talk of the show moving over to WGN America when the deal is over. In the meantime, expect a roughly 2.5 rating on Fridays for WWE, with 95% of them "in the demo." (Though they are beginning to skew younger than in years past.)

FWIW: I may be the entire crossover market between Joss' shows and the Land of Vince McMahon. =)
I don't understand the 'lead-arguments' (i.e., it would really matter if DH came after AI; DH gained market share over lead-in). Are there indeed data to support the idea that TV consumers are too apathetic to work a remote? This argument strikes me as a throwback to the 50s when one felt that a given network fit more with one's general 'politics/philosophy'; and this was typically a trend set by the 6 pm news. Particularly in these days of DVRs, why should the lead-in matter? Anyone out there know the actual data (no uninformed opinion, please)?
Look at the ratings for a show like Fringe when it airs after AI, look at the ratings for it when it doesn't air after AI. However out-dated the 'lead-in' idea may be, it still shows up when you look at the actual ratings.
As it should be, really, 'cos I don't want to be worrying anybody except myself.

I mean this in the nicest possible way, my friend - "Fail!" ;)

ETA - re: lead-ins - More than 2/3rds of the U.S. viewers don't own a DVR and is more likely to watch the next show on a station they are already tuned to if it at all interests them. Google away.
baxter, people still look at it and it still matters although in practice it is becoming less important as DVR usage grows. Believe it or not there are folks out there that turn on the TV and just leave it on the same channel until they go to bed. Baffles me too, but there are a lot of them.

or what zeitgeist just said.

[ edited by TamaraC on 2009-03-08 02:23 ]
Particularly in these days of DVRs, why should the lead-in matter?

A reasonable DVR portion of the audience - not all of them, but enough - skip adverts. Therefore, advertisers pay less.

Unfortunately, a lead-in makes a huge difference. For example, everybody is now watching "Lie To Me" (numbers wise), to see what it does when it decouples with American Idol.
zeitgeist or gossi:

Would either of you know what the chances of changing DH's lead in look like?
That number is either 48% or 52%, g-man, though recent studies suggest they retain the brand recognition even on ffwd just as well as those not ffwd'ing.

ETA - Well, its lead-in is about to be Prison Break.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-03-08 02:26 ]
I can give you a 100% answer crhobbs42, as me and The Hollywood Reporter checked with FOX PR today - DH's lead changes in April to Prison Break.
By which time there will only be four episodes of Dollhouse remaining, I think.
That should be good, right?
I heard that DH might be PB's lead in?!? Is there any truth to that story?
No. The reason we checked was to make sure that wasn't the case; it's not.
In fact, it was in this very thread that we addressed that rumor.
The way the audience for Terminator is disappearing it's hard to think that PB could do any worse but its not aired on Friday's before so anything's possible.
I don't think PB will do any better in that timeslot than TSCC. I think it has the potential to do much worse. It is an already canceled show with a rapidly dwindling viewership that I seriously doubt will follow it to 8pm on Fridays.

And no, crhobbs42, there is no truth to a timeslot switch.
I'm almost certain, if anybody is wondering, that almost all of Dollhouse is air on Friday night at 9pm. There is an outside possibility one or two episodes could go missing due to May sweeps, but that's depending on performance of the remaining episodes.

I don't know if the show will return in January 2010 or not (as apparently that would be the target). Variety describe it as 'on the bubble', and I'll go for that still. There's no consensus.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-03-08 02:38 ]
The One True b!X:

Sorry about that, my bad.
I meant that to be pokey without being bitchy, but didn't pull it off.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-03-08 02:40 ]
"I don't know if the show will return in January 2010 or not..."

Does this mean that the show will be coming back in September?

(I know it's a stretch, but I had to reach...)
Regarding lead-ins, I skip Sarah Connor and watch Dollhouse.
I also skip Idol and watch Lie To Me (my favorite new show). I DVR them both but I also watch them at the same time if I am home.

Okay, so maybe I am not the typical viewer, but I am the demo they seem to care so much about.
The majority of TV viewers are casual viewers. They're not going to go out of their way to watch something, so having a strong lead in would get a lot of people to sample the show who wouldn't otherwise. They may or may not follow it back to Fridays, but we'll never know if they never try.

It's too bad about SCC, I thought yesterday's episode was really good.
I'm wondering what they are going to put on Mondays in the fall with both Prison Break and TSCC gone. I guess it is almost time for me to pull out my spreadsheets and start guessing what May upfronts are going to reveal.
TamaraC, "Glee" is my guess.
Geeze, two things I really, really like are on the bubble.

University of Maryland men's basketball is on the bubble to make the NCAA tournament, which will begin on March 19, and Dollhouse. I just hope I don't confuse the two and think Dollhouse is on the verge of making the NCAA's and airing on CBS, and UM basketball ends up being on Fox.
Now that last thought got me thinking.

I wonder if you could imprint five actives to win the NCAA tournament or even the NBA finals, would that be cheaper than paying a roster of NBA players 60-70 million dollars to win it all. Although paying to have five actives play on your team probably goes against every single NCAA bylaw known. If I was Mark Cuban, I would definitely pay the Dollhouse an extraordinary amount of money to create a roster of NBA actives, combining the skills of the all-time greats at each position.
If they put Glee and another new drama on Mondays, House and Fringe on Tuesdays, Bones and 2 new comedies on Wednesdays, a reality show and Kitchen Nightmares on Thursdays, that still leaves real estate on Fridays for either all reality drek, all new shows, or Dollhouse and a new drama. Lie to Me will fit in there somewhere possibly or be saved for midseason. I guess it is down to strategy and how strong the shows in development are. I'll be watching the development sched closely in the next month or so.

Scheduling the revamped Virtuality with Dollhouse on Friday nights would be heaven as far as I am concerned.

And yes, I think about this entirely too much. Fun for a TV geek on a Saturday night.

[ edited by TamaraC on 2009-03-08 03:33 ]

Nice idea. We don't know how much an active costs just yet, so it might not be cheaper for a whole roster. Plus I am thinking low visibility is a key factor in which engagements actives are allowed to partake. Wouldn't want a friend/family member (or the demonic law firm they are hiding from) to recognize them.

How about this? One marginal amateur basketball player with a professional sized body goes to Dollhouse and submits to being an active so he can get the skills. Dollhouse keeps most of the money (someone in the organization would act as agent for contracts and promotional deals). The player, after his 5 year stint, gets the reputation of being an all-time great. He won't recall any of it of course but all the games could be recorded for him to watch later.

Probably would later regret selling his soul, so to speak, but I would bet anything that there would be peeps that would go for the idea. Could even be a nice parable about steroids.

This could even work into Adelle's whole "we're doing the world a service" philosophy. The player would be a humble, quiet-spoken (reclusive), philanthropic example for all other athletes to live by. And yes, I am aware of the devious irony.

Personally, I think we are going to find out that extended engagements are problematic. Deteriorating neural composites or some such... Treatments will have diminishing returns so to speak. Alpha's schizophrenia could even be an example of what happens to someone when too many imprints are present for too long.

After all, tabula rasa isn't really tabula rasa.
I'm just completely in love with Dollhouse, and just thinking about how amazing the last episodes of the season can be gives me chills. I really don't want to think about ratings, if this show doesn't last for years I'll be heartbroken =/ In the long run it could probably replace Buffy as my favorite thing. Ever.
I'm agree danielgm86, of course my favorite Jossonian work is Firefly (with Buffy being the least), but Dollhouse has so much incredible potential that it is a shame that we have to worry about if it will last out this season much less whether it will get a second season.
When Joss first announced Dollhouse I knew it would be amazing, and I trust that he and Eliza are the best team in the business. I always dreamed about Joss doing a show with her, when I read Dollhouse was happening I couldn't believe it. I do hope this works out, maybe if FOX did more advertisement and found the "perfect" time slot, the numbers would grow.
Dana, The Girls HS Basketball Championships have been televised live for years now. It doesn't matter what Dollhouse's ratings are, it would have been preempted. And the Boys Championships are next week so it will most likely be televised later again.
The Iowan girls basketball team are all secret Dollhouse actives?
(See, this is how rumors and gossip start!)

I am just a little frustrated at the apparent huge drop in viewing numbers, but then again, many reviews posted here explicitly stated they'd only give the show 2 or 3 episodes to hook them. Still, what is it with these people who would rather watch ugly guys in spandex jumping all over each other, than watch a work of genuine wit, talent, and thought provoking themes?!
Frankly, l personally thought last night's episode was great, could of used alittle more action but lm liking the characters, they are so complex this show shows alot of promise if given a chance but the fox network has let go of alot of shows that showed potential lm keeping my fingers crossed as well
This is a random post of what I've been thinking for a while:

I'm more hopeful for Dollhouse than a lot of people. I'm hopeful because of Hulu. I think that the internet TV format is really starting to take off, and that network execs must be starting to realize that the computer replacing television is inevitable.

That changes the equation. If I were a Fox exec, even if my concern was 100% bottom line, I would hesitate to kill any show with half decent numbers that had internet (Hulu, Itunes) and geek popularity while the methods of distrubiting entertainment were in such heavy flux.
Hulu and iTunes numbers are nowhere near the levels which could be responsible for saving a television show.
Celluloid Novelist: although I'm not as optimistic as you are, I agree that we need to take more factors into account, including projecting into the future, considering the timeslot, the cost of the show, etc., etc. We can't simply look at the raw Nielsen numbers, though those numbers do say plenty.
b1x, Hulu is starting to have an impact. For good or bad is for others to decide. It is making a dent and getting noticed.
I didn't say it wasn't getting noticed. I said that in the present day it's not going to save anyone's television show.
Probably right. It won't save a show, but it is getting noticed. Not necessarily in a positive way.
So are we likely to get iTunes/Hulu/ numbers at all?
Ivalaine, no, we will never get those numbers.
(deleted, bad memory)

[ edited by willbueche on 2009-03-08 10:08 ]
If a lead-in is so important, then paring DH with an already dwindling show on Friday nights was a death sentence. But I guess we already knew that.

Unless some new amazing show is launched next fall, I won't have anything to watch next season: BSG will be over and TtSCC and DH will be gone. Yay.
It's taken a lot of convincing for me to believe that the "lead in" factor is for real. I've found it really hard to comprehend that there are a significant number of people out there who just turn on the TV to watch something at 7 PM, then leave it on the same channel for the rest of the night.

Are that many people really such zombies? No wonder Joss's shows have such a hard time making it, they require a basic level of intelligence, awareness and the ability to engage with something that doesn't involve people making total asses of themselves, "reality" shows or otherwise.
Right now I'm firmly in the Bill Mahr "people are just stupid" corner.
Oh ye of little faith.


Well. Me too.

IT'S FOX! What were you people expecting? DIFFERENT behavior? If you manage to pin the tail on a real donkey, he's still gonna kick you halfway to Cleveland. EVERY. TIME.

Sure, since the Firefly Fiasco, they've completely fired anyone remotely responsible for that at the Fox Network, and their replacements, probably a half dozen times over by now. Whoever was there then isn't there now. We shouldn't have a right to presume the same thing will happen.

However, this counterintuitive behavior on the part of the Fox Network of canceling promising shows (particularly heavy scifi) or putting them on terrible nights where failure is inevitable has been indicative practically since the network's inception. Does anyone remember the awesome scifi western action comedy Brisco County Junior with Bruce Campbell? Of course not! Why? BECAUSE FOX CANCELED IT!

Oh. This time it'll be different! Sure! I say that every time I buy a lottery ticket. Do I look rich to you?

The only time FOX ever got it right was with The X-Files. And it wasn't for lack of trying to kill it. They moved that show around and gave it horrendous time slots and pre-empted it every chance they got, yet it survived until well after it should have been put to pasture. Once. Fox got it right once.

Hopefully Dollhouse will make it to enough episodes to warrant a DVD set. Maybe we can hope for another motion picture someday, though somehow I doubt it. Joss had the right idea with Dr. Horrible. Skip television. Cut out the middleman. Make the story you want to tell, and ship it straight to your audience through the Internet and DVD sales. It's the only way. If Whedon EVER says yes to television again after this, he's a glutton for punishment and I probably won't hop on board that crazy train next time.

Television, while not dead, is a festering pile of twitching zombie body parts. It should be set on fire so people with cameras in their cellphones can watch it burn, and then upload the videos to YouTube.
"Television, while not dead, is a festering pile of twitching zombie body parts. It should be set on fire so people with cameras in their cellphones can watch it burn, and then upload the videos to YouTube." Heh nice ranting there and yes I agree :)

In my mind the writing in Dollhouse after 4 episodes doesn't warrant paying for the DVD set and I say that as an Whedon DVD completist, much less a movie. If the quality really does jump dramatically things might change but at the moment the ratings are the least of the shows problems.
When a great show have crappy ratings it's a problem when a subpar show have bad ratings it's just a fact of life.

[ edited by jpr on 2009-03-08 12:54 ]
I didn't say it wasn't getting noticed. I said that in the present day it's not going to save anyone's television show.

Wasn't there some story about some small comedies on NBC, say.... 30 Rock and The Office that got renewed despite horrible ratings in the first season partially due to great iTunes-sales? By some Kevin Reilly?

(I know, I know.... The situation is very different. And certainly not present day.)
Does anyone remember the awesome scifi western action comedy Brisco County Junior with Bruce Campbell?

I will always have my DVD boxed set. And my distrust of Fox.
Does anyone remember the awesome scifi western action comedy Brisco County Junior with Bruce Campbell?

I can see my copy from where I'm sitting :) and I still say (as a fan of 30 Rock, Friday Night Lights and several other shows that are still on the air because of Kevin Reilly) that Dollhouse's best chance on a "Big Four" network today is at Fox. Would I prefer it have been on a cable network where its current numbers would guarantee it like 5 years no questions asked? Sure.
Iowagirl: Well, this IS Iowa, and you know how we are about supporting our own. Nonetheless, it still means they lost the audience, which needs all the help it can get.

The real problem here goes well beyond DH. It is in the nature of how this medium is changing and the implications this has for the future of TV. I do not own a DVR, do not want one, and believe that even heavy DVR use of a specific show means little since people can skip the adverts, which is how the shows make money. I suspect that we will see the full season of DH and no more, so that a full DVD set can be released. But hulu and iTunes, they don't much help the bottom line here. And when it comes to shows with high production values (and costs) like DH, unless there is a real good ROI, they just don't make it.
Dana5140 - half the people do skip the adverts, but the first studies show that they still retain name recognition of products advertised.
Troubled to see that Dollhouse didn't crack the top 10 of TV shows download this past week.
Didn't crack the top 10 where? It's currently top of the list on Hulu, and #4 on iTunes. Or are you talking about the not-so-legal download methods?

Also, I see that while they're not among the top two highest rated or most popular episodes on Fox On Demand, both Terminator and Dollhouse are "Featured". I assume this means Fox is making a point of promoting them on the website?
If Watchmen caused the lower numbers this week, then wouldn't there be a larger-than-usual number of DVR and online viewers for this episode? The people who otherwise would have watched DH but were at Watchmen will see it later and add to the number of non-live viewers (I hope).

[ edited by Squishy on 2009-03-08 16:23 ]
If T:SCCC was going to tie in the new Terminator movie somehow.... I can't help but think that maybe it would be doing better in the ratings. I kind of wish they would myself because it would give me a bit more incentive to watch.
IT'S FOX! What were you people expecting? DIFFERENT behavior?

I was waiting for this to start. The fact that there's trouble afoot doesn't mean trouble being afoot was inevitable, nor does it automatically mean all the knee-jerk, reflexive, and reactionary "oh, no not FOX!" cries when this deal were struck had any merit.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-03-08 19:04 ]
The only time FOX ever got it right was with The X-Files.

Whatever the pros and cons of the way the Fox Broadcasting Company goes about its business, I would find this very hard to believe.
I'm was disappointed to hear the low figures for Terminator, but even more so after watching the episode. It was the best in a long while and its a shame not many people watched it! I hope that it'll lead to a better figure next week.

Like others have said, Salvation will undoubtedly have at least some positive effect on SCCs viewing figures so I hope they keep it alive long enough to find out.
I didn't say it wasn't getting noticed. I said that in the present day it's not going to save anyone's television show.

My point is that while the raw numbers at this time are not going to be enough to save a show, someday soon, Hulu and download numbers will be the most important things because a minority of people under 50 will watch TV the old way. If I were an exec thinking about the future, I would be more hesitant than usual to get rid of anything on the bubble that dominated in those formats.
The point that I am trying to make is that Salvation will not have any effect on SCC. At WonderCon, Josh Friedman made it very clear that show will not tie any current or new storylines to the movie. That maybe there was a opportunity to attract new veiwers, epecially with the move to Fridays. It's really too bad.....
Celluloid Novelist I think we're still sometime away from online being the primary source for TV for the under 50s. It would seem odd for FOX to hang on to a show now in the hope it would clean up once that switch finally occurs.
Just wanted to chip in and say I read somewhere recently only 50% of the US actually has access to broadband at the moment. So there's the 50% of people who have PCs and internet out the equation. 'New media' (Hulu etc) will make bags of money eventually, but at the minute the technology and the viewers aren't there. NBC publish their iTunes stats, and get to be #1 on downloads with low 5 figure numbers of people. (~25k or so). Terminator will get canned with 3,000,000 viewers. So, right now, the internet isn't going be challenging Broadcast TV or cable.

The Terminator movie comes out after this series has finished airing (like, over a month after). So whilst it can be argued it may boost viewers, the show won't actually be on the air.
That's interesting. I would like to see more numbers on the trend. I only watch TV on my computer, and so does everyone else under 35 that I know, but that probably distorts my perspective as to how common that's becoming.
For the question of who watches shows because of a lead in, well, I do *raises hand*.

As a child I was raised on Nickelodeon and the Disney channel. Basically I would keep those channels on for as long as I was allowed to watch TV (which was as long as I wanted, until my parents finally made me go to bed so they could watch the Howard Stern show). So if Ren and Stimpy came after Doug, that's what I watched next. I would only change the channel if something I didn't like came on next.

I graduated to the WB when I was twelve to watch Buffy. I watched Dawson's Creek because it came on after Buffy, and was promoted heavily during that show. In fact I sampled nearly everything the WB had to offer in those years until Buffy moved to UPN. I can't even remember what show followed, but I came just to watch Buffy and then left.

When I watch cable TV today, I follow the same pattern. I can't think how many TV show pilots I watched when I was a regular viewer of Grey's Anatomy, simply because they came on shortly and didn't look bad and I didn't have anything else to watch. Using a show I watched as a lead in meant I was already on my couch, I already had the channel on, and I didn't really have anything else to do (usually). Otherwise I would have never gone out of my way to watch these shows on a different night, for instance. I saw the pilot of Chuck because it came on after Heroes.

Unless something ties me to a new show, like an actor I like or a showrunner I respect, then the only way I've seen it is if it comes on after something I am already watching. I don't think there's anything that complicated or "zombie"ish about it.

The only channel I don't really do this for, for some reason, is HBO. I come, watch my Six Feet Under, or these days True Blood or Flight of the Conchords or Big Love, and go. I think though that's usually because a movie or repeat programming is usually on after these shows. I know they've used the lead-in principal before, and I think I was once roped into watching John From Cincinnati, but that was a fluke. There's also no commercials on HBO during the show to get me interested in what's coming after.

Fox has not really given this show much support, but right now the only thing about the show that could possibly warrant it is Joss Whedon and his past reputation. Dollhouse is just not that engaging for me. I should be a locked in fan, as I own DVDs of nearly all of Joss Whedon's work. But I don't blindly adore everything he's ever done, and in fact I stopped watching Buffy (a show that defined my adolescence) in the early days of the seventh season. I watched DH live on Friday, but I was easily distracted by feeding the dogs, fixing snacks, etc. It was mildly interesting, and mildly interesting is not enough to keep me watching week after week week. Also, if anyone is scrambling for something to watch for next year, all the shows above are smoking. I would be very sad if every show out there catered to the common tastes of one demographic, internet, shut-in, or otherwise. As an eclectic TV watcher, I have found that HBO and Showtime are my friends. Soothe your Dollhouse upset with a little Dexter and Big Love. I personally hope the HBO dramas are the TRUE future of TV, because as fun as Dr. Horrible was (and it was very, very fun) such romps could never replace the great shows like Six Feet Under.
None of the HBO shows at the moment can compare to Dollhouse, IMHO. Deadwood was brilliant, but they killed it a while ago. True Blood is fun, but isn't nearly as awesome (plus I can't help but thinking that all the vampires are wusses, since they make the random mook vampires in Buffy look intimidating). Big Love... is interesting, but its too... squicky for me, without enough draw for me to make me watch it on Sundays at 9 rather than Clone Wars (since Dollhouse is on when Clone Wars episodes first air). I love Bill Maher, but its a comedy, obviously. I hope that Song of Ice and Fire will be picked up, though it won't be nearly as good as the books by default, it will easily be the best show on HBO unless they manage to ruin it with some really bad choices in the adaptation (like showing the Dothraki as anything other than Turco-Mongols).

Frankly while I love HBO's ability to have cursing, violence and sex (though sometimes it seems that those things are mandated in, rather than serving the plot) my favorite shows are on normal TV currently - Lost, BSG (though that's going soon), and Dollhouse. Normal TV is still where the best television writers are, for better or worse. As evidenced by the previously mentioned shows (though sometimes Lost seems to hire inferior writers for some reason).

HBO also suffers from not supporting their good historical shows (Deadwood), and tolerating such historical inaccurate monstrosities like Rome. Even Rome could have been good, with all of its issues if it didn't have all the big movers and shakers and focused on the average, criminal aspects of Rome.

That said I do hope that the live action Star Wars television show will be on HBO rather than normal cable.
I very rarely watch something because it's on after something else I used to watch (unless I'm ill and can't be bothered to lift my hand to the remote.)

I watch what I want to watch, change channels, and if there's nothing on that interests me, stick in a DVD.

Oh, and I did another poll, this time on DVRs. While a few people on my LJ are over fifty (including me), most aren't.

DVR usage
What I want to see is Fringe numbers compared to Dollhouse numbers. They are both "remote free" TV, they are both "new" shows, tend to have the same "sci-fi vibe" that some fear... I think that'd give us the best comparable numbers of AI lead in/non-AI lead in one could hope to establish.
Fringe does way better.
korkster, Fringe hangs around 11-12 million viewers. It's a massive show (much bigger than Heroes, for example).
The unanswerable question, of course, is whether Dollhouse would have done just as well with a post-AI timeslot and Fringe-style hype or whether it would have done worse than Fringe so that putting it on Friday (with lowered expectations) was a good thing.

It's all hypothetical, so we don't really know.
Re: Fringe numbers.

Well that just irks me. Comparing the first 4 episodes of Fringe & Dollhouse... Dollhouse was way stronger in its mythology and making me wanting to care than Fringe.

As it stands now, I have more investment into the backstories in Dollhouse than I do with Fringe. It's been half a season and they still haven't come around to what the goal of General Dynamics is. They were playing the "baddies", but now they're working with the government? And ??? Trying to weasel out what's going on with the overall conspiracy and such gives me a headache.

I like Fringe. It shows promise, but quality/investment-wise, Dollhouse is superior.

Now I wish they'd switch the two shows to see which one does better (give it two weeks). That'd make me happy. :)

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