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March 21 2009

Ratings for last night's Dollhouse. It scored a 1.5/5 in the demo and 4.13 million viewers tuned in to "Man on the Street" last night. Marc Berman says "To the fans of Dollhouse: don’t rule this show out. There could be a possibility this will return next season."

Half-hour ratings:
9:00 p.m. V: 4.22 m, A18-49: 1.5/ 5
9:30 p.m.: v: 4.04 m, A18-49: 1.5/ 4

The ratings so far:
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.
Episode 5 - 4.3 million, 1.6 in 18-49 demo, 5% share.
Episode 6 - 4.1 million, 1.5 in 18-49 demo, 5% share.

Thanks to The Dark Shape and gossi.

Thanks for posting this, J.I.G.

But what does this really mean? Anyone numerate and informed in the ways of networks in the building?

I've totally fallen for Dollhouse now. Must have it. Must have it continue. Must.

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2009-03-21 17:31 ]
Marc Berman has Dollhouse managing 4.13 million viewers and a 1.5/5 rating.

http://pifeedback.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/63310451/m/506103791
I guess that that is still a terribly distant third place (with CBS and ABC kicking Fox's ass), but I'm betting that CBS and ABC are getting a total of zero of 'new media' (ie no body is buying on iTunes or watching on Hulu), not that that means a lot to advertising prices.... This stuff gives me a headache.
Those are absurdly different numbers.

They are absurdly different for Friday Night Lights, too. Why is it so difficult to get non-conflicting data?

Edited to add: Why replace the first post that made up the thread with Marc Berman's data? Is Marc Berman the gold standard? (Not a snarky question, just wondering about this shifting, roiling sea of conflicting numbers.)

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2009-03-21 17:41 ]
This all sounds... conflicted. Could the link in the first post have meant a 1.6/5? Strange.
The 2.6/5 is the overall number, not the demo number. See further examples here: Dollhouse ratings
I'm actually satisfied with those numbers. It wasn't the massive dropoff I expected it to be.
I'm glad the show didn't fall below 4 million viewers and the demo didn't fall drastically either. I thought it might because of the BSG finale. Plus, it's nice to see that even Marc Berman thinks there is a slight chance of renewal for next season. Hopefully, the show will pick up more steam after last night's episode.
JMaloney already explained.

[ edited by helcat on 2009-03-21 17:44 ]
When will gossi chime in? Gossi, please chime in!
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.
Episode 5 - 4.3 million, 1.6 in 18-49 demo, 5% share.
Episode 6 - 4.1 million, 1.5 in 18-49 demo, 5% share.
So last night's episode was the second least watched so far?
Sorry, I didn't mean to confuse anyone.

phlebotinin, the first link I posted was a link to the fast national ratings.
The link I posted now that The Dark Shape pointed out is a link to the final numbers.
Yes, the positive buzz is encouraging. I think the vaguely positive buzz from last week helped counterbalance most of the BSG viewer drain. The more concrete feeling generated by last night's episode might help it improve further.
I think then that it would have been much higher had the BSG finale not been on (most people I know watched that).
So, that's an average demo of 1.6 so far this season, isn't it?
Hey, this indirectly shows me that Flashpoint wasn't on last night(thanks basketball) so I don't have to watch that later online. This is a very informative post.

I timeshifted Dollhouse to the west coast feed.
These are pretty solid numbers. It held up against CBS MARCH MADNESS and the series finale of BATTLESTAR. It gets a new lead in soon in the shape of PRISON BREAK, which could further boost the numbers. I think if the last few episodes of the series are great TV, it has a shot.
I think we need to wait to see what BSG drew before claiming DH took a major hit from it. If BG is the reason for the dip in audience (though that dip is only 0.1 in the demo) you'd expect a jump in the DVR numbers when they're available I assume.
Thanks for the clearing up, J.I.G.

So, from gossi's helpful list, Dollhouse is still getting pretty much the same 5% share. And it has built up again from its low of 3.5 million viewers (which I'm personally convinced was a reaction to "Stage Fright").

I wonder if these numbers will be good enough for the network to give it a second season. I personally have nothing to say about these numbers because I wouldn't know what I'm talking about. I can be neither (informatively) glad or sad, although it is nice that the show isn't steadily plummeting. That's good, isn't it? Too bad, though, that it hasn't come close to recapturing its opening night numbers (which weren't fantastic themselves).

I am intrigued that Marc Berman now writes that Dollhouse still has a shot. It would seem from the comments section on his page that only recently he was emphasizing Dollhouse's "losing performance."
According to Media Week's Marc Berman: "Fox scheduled a phone conference with the press on Dollhouse, which means they are considering a second season."
Duuuuuuuuuuude.
Evidently Berman's new found optimism for the show reflects that FOX held a conference call for the media on the show indicating they've not given up hope on it.
I think he's referring to the conference call Joss had with the press this last week about Dollhouse. It is indeed worth noting that FOX scheduled the call, though, which you wouldn't do with a show you wanted to quietly cancel (I'm looking at you, T:TSCC). (Sorry, Summer).
FOX obviously did that because they knew this episode was better than the other five and because it was up against the BSG finale. They still have hope for it, but that's not something noteworthy is it? The ratings aren't that bad so I'm not surprised that they did the conference call. (It's not like that costs FOX money, right?)
I have to say, I wondered about that phone conference with the press. It seemed unusual for a show that was being called by many a losing proposition. I mean, why bother? Why expend any resources on a show you've decided you're going to cancel? To quote JMaloney, "Duuuuuuuuuuuuuude."
Does anyone know when the Dollhouse press conference call is? I don't want to stress myself without a specific day in mind.
I presume that FOX picks up the phone bill but I doubt that's an expense that really factors into anything. I think they decided it was worth trying to give the show a boost by getting renewed press interest for this 'better' episode and if it pushed the numbers up then it'd have been worth it. Now you have to wonder what they make of teh extra push and the lack of upward movement. Has DH found its audience? Can it find a way to actually grow from this 1.5/1.6 demo point? (My guess is that the line between 1.5 and 1.6 here is all to do with small moves that change the rounding more than any huge difference in numbers.)
I'd say holding your numbers against the NCAA tournament AND the finale of Battlestar Galactica is pretty freaking good, personally, and I hope they realize that.

Can't wait to see what the DVR numbers are, and I wish they'd release FoD/Hulu/iTunes numbers as well.
wilder, I believe the phone conference has been and gone.

C.A. Bridges, for additional hilarity it's worth noting March Madness increased it's 18-49 demo compared to the usual competition (FLASHPOINT).

The numbers for DOLLHOUSE, whilst not amazing, do look pretty solid for a friday night show. I think from here on out it's all about momentum for the series (creatively).
It appears that Dollhouse has an audience. Not a huge one, but not a tiny one, either (when we factor in DVR and online viewers).

I could see a reasonable case being made that, given the consistent weekly audience and the good supplementary numbers that a renewal (perhaps only for 13 episodes) and a summer of promotion (just continue streaming the episodes for free, a DVD release, allow fans to continue pitching the show to their friends) could possibly grow that audience. That's essentially what happened with The Office, if I recall.

Now, I'm not saying Dollhouse could grow to the same extent and it's not likely, in a single season, to double that 1.5 into a 3.0 and become a hit. But, I'd say the possibility of Dollhouse growing that 1.5 number into the mid 2.0 range (especially since it premiered to a 2.0 just through advertising, a second season premiere would have those first 13 episodes to entice an audience with) on Fridays is much higher than any pilot they pick up (or struggling property they move) of premiering to something better.

Given that some costs (like the set) are already sunk (in comparison to buying a new property to premiere on Friday night, I mean), the general dearth of good TV that's even remotely science fictiony, the fact that Whedon is a known quantity and some critical goodwill towards the network would result from throwing him a bone, you'd have to think that figures in as well.

I think, especially if it sees any bump from Prison Break or trends back towards that 2.0 number, it stands a pretty good shot. Or, I can see Joss and the other folks involved making a decent case.
gossi, do you really think that PB will perform better as a lead in than TSCC? I find that a bit unbelievable. I mean the only show more canceled than TSCC is the already canceled Prison Break. I don't think its viewers are going to show up on a Friday night unless they have been grounded.
do you really think that PB will perform better as a lead in than TSCC? I find that a bit unbelievable. I mean the only show more canceled than TSCC is the already canceled Prison Break. I don't think its viewers are going to show up on a Friday night unless they have been grounded.

Prison Break has been a consistently popular show with an 18-34 male audience, it's the reason it has stayed on the air for four years despite never being a mega hit. You'd figure some of them would tune in to watch the show end. Shows tend to get a bounce towards the end of their run, people come back to see how it ends, especially on decently series finales. Shit, Dawn Ostroff renewed 7th Heaven a few years because of the series finale bounce it got (and, stupidly, cancelled Everwood as a result). If some of the Prison Break viewes stick around to sample Dollhouse, that'd be incredibly helpful.
THRfeed.com is reporting that BSG got around 2.4 million viewers last night.
Oddly enough, after how GREAT last nights episode was, I find it even harder to get my hopes up. If I have high hopes and the show gets canceled now, I'd be DEVASTATED. So, I'd rather not get my hopes up at all and be surprised than the other way around.

I fell in love with DH in a scary new way last night. I mean, that episode was just... Wow...
Tamara, it depends if FOX promote PRISON BREAK or not as to if a bigger audience will show up I think. If they make clear it's OMG THE LAST EPISODES, some of the original audience may show back up. Of course, since they're burning the episodes off on a Friday night in the summer, that might not happen. They might not advertise it at all. I don't know.
The half hour ratings are interesting:

9:00 p.m. V: 4.22 m, A18-49: 1.5/ 5
9:30 p.m.: v: 4.04 m, A18-49: 1.5/ 4

It's the first episode so far which has turned people off mid episode.
I blame BSG, gossi.
Edit: I'm going to edit those numbers in in the original post if you don't mind.

[ edited by J.I.G. on 2009-03-21 20:01 ]
Ouch, I was hoping that wouldn't happen any time soon. I'm still hoping that the show will break the 5 million mark once it has Prison Break as its lead-in. Good to see that it held on to its demo, though.
'course I don't mind. You can edit in the weekly ratings thing I posted earlier too if you want.

If anybody wants to stack it against the NCAA thing:

9:00 p.m. – 9.15 million (#1), A18-49: 3.2/10 (#1)
9:30 p.m. – 8.29 million (#1), A18-49: 2.9/ 9 (#1)

So both Dollhouse and NCAA lost viewers at 9.30pm. Maybe it was Battlestar?
a scenario: over the next few days, the numbers for not just dvr but hulu/itunes/etc (most of which we never get to see, but Fox probably gets ahold of) are really really good. Why? as word of mouth spreads, lots of formerly uninterested and/or basketball/bsg/friday nite out socializing viewers decide to check this out. If this scenario happened, the hulu/itunes/dvr stuff would suggest to Fox that interest was suddenly percolating, and thus these numbers (if they came out as in my scenario) would mean something much different and more positive than the mere fact that this show has already shown itself to have a pretty good dvr viewership. Thoughts?
doubtful guest, FOX get all the numbers. They then go to a bunch of finance peeps, who stick them in spreadsheets and work out the profit/loss blah de blah. Renewal decisions take a basis of what the spreadsheets look like, where in the schedule it would fit next season, and then political/personal feelings from the FOX management layered on top.
Gossi, I think the reason why the numbers went down at 9:30 is because the games that started at 7-7:20 ended around 9:30 and the late night block of games didn't start until 9:45-10. The games weren't close at all, which probably helped decrease the numbers.

I would be interested in the late night block of games, which had two games go to overtime. I wonder if the numbers for the 10 pm Eastern dropped significantly. And those games would be going against Dollhouse on the West Coast.

Particularly in sports, if a game is competitive the ratings generally increase as the game draws to a conclusion. If it is not, they drop.

[ edited by crazygolfa on 2009-03-21 20:24 ]
Dirk, Prison Break USED to be mildly popular. This last fall it got the same ratings (worse when you add in DVR) as TSCC. I can see science fiction fans making a point of staying home or DVRing TSCC. I can't see Prison Break fans doing the same.

gossi, have you seen any indication that Fox has plans to advertise the show? I have yet to see a single ad for it and it comes back in less than a month. It'll be interesting to see if it gets even the bare bones ad support that TSCC got on its return.
Crazygolfa, the thing to remember about the NCAA ratings is that they will change when the finals come in as the fast nationals isn't able to sort out the time difference effects for live sporting events across the country. FWIW these are the breakdown for the 10-11pm hour from pifeedback.

10:00 p.m. – 8.55 million (#1), A18-49: 3.0/ 9 (#1)
10:30 p.m. – 7.98 million (#1), A18-49: 2.9/ 9 (#1)
TamaraC, no, no sign of advertising yet for PB. That said, there was no advertising for DOLLHOUSE a month out either.

Since PRISON BREAK will be on air during May sweeps with DOLLHOUSE, you would think FOX would advertise it. They have a responsibility to their advertisers to try to prop Friday nights up during that period.
It will definitely be interesting to see. I'm pretty sure that PB is an afterthought at this point.
Well, yeah - like I said, Friday night, already canned, burn off fodder. Still, it's in their own interests to advertise it for sweeps and see how it does with DH. They should send me to Comic-Con to promote the Dollhouse DVD, also. I'm not sure how I'd promote it, but I like the idea of being a DVD pimp.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-03-21 20:46 ]
What's odd to me about NCAA scheduling is that completely bleeped up the time placements of the games. During the 7 pm Eastern games, they had three contests featuring Pacific/Mountain Time Zone teams while the late night block teams had none from the Western Time Zones. If I'd done the scheduling, I'd put the put Western Teams in prime time on their area. It makes no sense to me that the Arizona-Utah game in Miami was 7 pm Eastern while the Cleveland State-Wake Forest (NC) in Miami was at 945-10 Eastern. It should have been switched.

I'm not sure who schedules the games. The NCAA or CBS or both. Makes me think there were Dollhouse fans amongst the scheduling people. ;)
Hmmm... Comic Con and Dollhouse DVD pimpage. What a great idea! See ya there, dude. ;)
Dirk, Prison Break USED to be mildly popular. This last fall it got the same ratings (worse when you add in DVR) as TSCC. I can see science fiction fans making a point of staying home or DVRing TSCC. I can't see Prison Break fans doing the same.


Really? I thought Prison Break (outside of some dips due to the World Series and one of the episodes airing at Christmas time, when people aren't watching TV) was still pulling down a 2.2-2.6 in 18-49. It seems like it has a loyal, core audience, is all I'm saying. If it matches it's season low (which appears to be 5,000,000 total viewers and a 1.9 in 18-49) leading into Dollhouse that'd be pretty decent. Especially if any number of those folks would be willing to stick around. At the very least, it would mean that Dollhouse wouldn't have to grow out of its lead-in.

[ edited by Dirk on 2009-03-21 21:02 ]
Dirk, when both TSCC and PB were on Mondays back to back last fall they basically got the same ratings as each other. Then when you threw in DVR +7, TSCC beat Prison Break. Then both shows went on hiatus.

Of course TSCC viewers dropped (but DVR viewers have increased by around 50%) by moving to the Friday slot. Now Prison Break who got less DVR viewers and has been on hiatus/canceled much longer is going to move into the same Friday slot that doomed TSCC and do better? Really? It is has been off the air longer and is known by almost everyone to be a canceled and dead show.

There is no way PB will pull 5M viewers or a 1.8 in the demo on a Friday night at 8. It will be a miracle for it to get 4M viewers and a 1.5.

I don't get your optimism about PB. And in no way would it help Dollhouse in the minds of TPTB for Dollhouse to not improve on PB's leadin. If Dollhouse doesn't improve on Prison Break, it will be canceled for sure. I just don't happen to think that will be much of a problem.

[ edited by TamaraC on 2009-03-21 21:13 ]
The Daily Beast says FOX's Kevin Reilly job may be in trouble.
The Daily Beast says FOX's Kevin Reilly job may be in trouble.

Which is weird because I thought the industry buzz was that he was safe because Rice needs someone to show him how the television side of things works.
Hasn't that been discredited since, gossi? Rice doesn't have any experience in TV and needs someone who knows the ropes with Ligouri gone.


Or what b!x said 3 seconds earlier than me. :)

[ edited by TamaraC on 2009-03-21 21:21 ]
Also, when there's any kind of shakeup, enemies of other people not ousted start showing up as "insiders" in news reports to try to undercut them in the process. So I'd think it's tough to tell what "insiders" are describing reality and what "insiders" are just out to get Reilly.
They could just hire another exec with TV experience, of course.

I've no idea if there's any truth in it. The fact Fox have two big execs go in recent weeks suggest they are shaking things up.
Of course TSCC viewers dropped (but DVR viewers have increased by around 50%) by moving to the Friday slot. Now Prison Break who got less DVR viewers and has been on hiatus/canceled much longer is going to move into the same Friday slot that doomed TSCC and do better? Really? It is has been off the air longer and is known by almost everyone to be a canceled and dead show.

Admittedly, I wasn't paying much attention to either show because they're both, you know, bad. But, I think the situations are different. Prison Break's concept never lent itself to a long run, I tend to think most of the decline is due to viewers getting tired of the concept and the general TV viewing post-strike. The folks that were tuning in in the fall and some of the older viewers may tune in for the final batch of episodes. It's a burn off, but to a four-year, loyal Prison Break viewer, the distinction probably doesn't matter (this is a special breed of person). Terminator has pretty much been declining since its series premiere, which indicates (to me) that people sampled it and thought it sucked. It never had the same kind of consistent audience of Prison Break.

I think there's a chance that Prison Break does better on Friday than Terminator. I look back at Friday Night Lights and it managed to carry most of its audience to Friday night. Different fanbases, different circumstances, it's unknowable, but I've got some hope that Prison Break could do some good for Dollhouse. Even if it's just by exposing some hardcore Prison Break fans to Dollhouse.

[ edited by Dirk on 2009-03-21 21:38 ]
The Daily Beast says FOX's Kevin Reilly job may be in trouble.

I do believe I saw this coming. *looks around with a wise and caring expression*
How does being on hulu NOT hurt the shows ratings? BSG is not up on hulu until 8 days after it's initial broadcast or, in other words, until the next episode has aired. Hello?
Hulu allows people to do catch up viewing and keeps people from giving up on a show because of an occasional missed episode. BSG is over. *sob* It doesn't matter when it is on hulu now.

Dirk, I don't think Prison Break fans and Dollhouse fans are at all similar. One show requires absolutely no thought and the other is the opposite. Not at all the same fans.
I enjoyed Prison Break for the first two seasons. And I admire it's penchant for routinely upending the show every season. But from towards the end of season two on, I didn't care about what was happening.
Dirk, I don't think Prison Break fans and Dollhouse fans are at all similar. One show requires absolutely no thought and the other is the opposite. Not at all the same fans.

Dollhouse is hardly a Russian novel, Tamara. Shit, Joss wouldn't want it to be. David Simon could tell him what happens when your show gets a reputation as being 'hard' or 'impenetrable'. I have to admire anyone who has stuck it out with Prison Break, silly and incoherent though it may be. A good writer can make something intellectual, complex and awesome, but also inherently accessible and delightful (provided people pay attention). Joss is one of those guys. I think anyone who would give a chance, Prison Break fan or otherwise, could get a lot out of Dollhouse. Or, maybe if they just watched the pilot, skipped episodes 2-5, and continued on from 'Man On The Street'.
These are pretty solid numbers.


Gosh, I swear that I read someone saying this to you a little while back... if only I could remember who it was ;).
Man, I'd feel bad if I were a Prison Break fan around here. Yeesh. At least I'm feeling vaguely, cautiously optimistic about Dollhouse, but it still really kills my high when people start moving towards putting down other shows. Low ratings or no, someone out there likes them.
IMMORTAL, I think the relation of Hulu viewing to network viewing is something the PTB are still actively tinkering with: When BSG season 4.5 started, for example, Hulu noted that the first several episodes would be up on Hulu the day after they aired, but then the last x episodes would be up, as you note, a week later. Dollhouse is up the day after. Clearly, different shows on different (broadcast/cable/tincanonastring) networks are testing different hypotheses about how to best benefit from Hulu. I suspect that, as a show approaching its end, BSG chose the split strategy to first get people back "into" the show as 4.5 started, but then wanted to drive as much traffic as possible to the actual airings of the last episodes because, by then, the focus was definitely not on letting newbies catch up. Dollhouse, however, as a new show still trying to build its following, can really benefit by allowing some people whose interest is piqued late to have a way to get up to speed and buy in, so might see Hulu as a real audience-building tool rather than an airtime ratings stealer.

ETA: and I think Prison Break deserves more respect than it is getting. Having watched the first season on DVD, the second "live", and kinda losing interest mid-third season, I can say that, while it didn't ultimately hold my interest, there were wonderful "macgyver"-esque machinations to the plotting and at least some ongoing emotional resonance to some of the relationships, such as the FBI agent-turned-co-conspirator or the loyalty and committment of a character like Sucre. I'd take its first two seasons over most of the procedurals out there.

[ edited by doubtful guest on 2009-03-21 22:18 ]
http://www.deadlinehollywooddaily.com/foxs-tony-v-talks-rupert-rice-reilly/

Reilly's job seems to be rock solid.

Thanks, zeitgeist. I'll never get this html stuff. Don't know how many times I have read the how to instructions and I still don't get it.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-03-21 22:15 ]

[ edited by TamaraC on 2009-03-21 22:20 ]
FYi if you click that link you just go to this page.
Saving the day, one link at a time.

I'm getting stupidly optimistic about the show's chances again. I am really just bouncing between the depths of despair and the heights of optimism.
LiLi, of course some people like them. One of my best friends is a huge Prison Break fan no matter how much I tease her about it. She admits it is all for the Wentworth Miller eyecandy. LOL

I just don't think there are enough PB fans who will go out of their way on a Friday night to make PB get better ratings than TSCC (which is almost guaranteed cancellation).

My admitted bias is that I find the show more boring than watching paint dry, but I feel the same way about CSI which gets a crazy amount of viewers every week. My conversation with Dirk has very little to do with quality and everything to do with facts and numbers. Pretty much the same way that networks make decisions about shows. US Broadcast television is not a meritocracy.
As much as I like Dollhouse, yesterday was BSG Day. ALL day.
Surely Fox and the Dollhouse producers had to know that they were up against the 2-hour final episode of Battlestar Galactica?
Me? I taped Dollhouse.
Hello, Fox? I TAPED it. Because I TIME SHIFT. Look it up.
I hope they don't Firefly Dollhouse.
Why in all that's holy (and unholy) ISN'T Dollhouse up on iTunes yet?

Such is my minor complaint. I wonder how truly safe a network exec's job can be. It seems a pretty unstable world. Kevin Reilly helped give further life to The Office and FNL, didn't he? Then I hope he gets treated well by new management.
It would be nice if it was up on iTunes. This episode isn't available yet.
Ah, wouldn't Dollhouse be the new Prison Break? I mean, if the Dolls break out of the Dollhouse and escape, it would almost be like Prison Break. I had to miss last nights Dollhouse, because like a few of the posters here, it was BSG all day yesterday.
Nebula1400, it's up on Hulu now. My wife and I will watch it tonight. We haven't watched a show in the old way in a very long time.
It's on Amazon Video On Demand too.
zeitgeist, when I said 'these numbers' I meant these numbers - as in the overnights against BSG and NCAA. I still don't think 1.5 in 18-49 is enough to renew it with, as it's way below FOX's network average (even excluding American Idol).
Let's talk about Fox's Friday Night ratings, not the rest of the week. The rest of the week doesn't matter if they plan to keep it on Friday. The previous ratings haven't been so bad for Friday, either. Simon's cheekiness about this being a lesser watched ep aside (I suspect DVR numbers will prove that not to be true all in all), I agree. I just don't think the previous numbers have been as bad as some people have claimed. They would be bad for a show following Idol, but this is a genre-y show on a Friday. If it makes money for them and catches a little critical and press attention, they'll keep it. I know you meant this week's against its specific competition. You know I enjoy teasing you (jeez, I'm gonna end up owing you a pint if I keep it up!), it's just your assessment of the state of the Dollhouse union has occasionally made me wonder if there are two gossis. I think that's probably true of all of us at times, though.
Indeed, if it ends up making money and there's a place for it on their schedule next year, it'll be back. Would I bring T:TSCC and Dollhouse back next year on a sci-fi Friday block with these numbers? Absolutely not. That idea tanked. Which, you know, duh.
I hypothesize that Dollhouse becoming awesome just as BSG ends is actually a good thing. Some BSG viewers are going to be in bad scifi withdrawal come Friday. And guess what the scifi internet chatter's going to include this week.

That's right-- Tahmoh's sexy scenes are on FOX now! Also something about Whedon and dolls, I dunno.
I agree Sunfire, now that BSG is over I think some of their viewers will definitely be coming over to Dollhouse...if not only for the shirtless Tahmoh ;-)

[ edited by ShanshuBugaboo on 2009-03-22 02:27 ]
Btw, something amusing from the link above - Rupert Murdoch takes home the FOX pilots, watches them and sends back notes. I bet he loved Dollhouses original pilot!
gossi, he obviously loved sitting next to Eliza at that CNN Heroes event ;-)
I'm afraid I find myself thinking about what his next show will be. If it will be funny. Caring about this ? Not so much. And 1x6 didn't really change that much. Though it was nice to see pizza girl a bit more - guess she really will get killed before the series is over. Shes the only really likable character
I'm perpetually confused by people missing the humor in this show. Maybe that's just one man's reaction ;) ;).
As AmazonGirl put it, "I hope they don't Firefly Dollhouse."

That's gotta be the coolest quote to come out of Whedonesque :)

If Dollhouse gets cancelled, we'll be like "No way, FOX fireflied again, they're fireflying all over the place".
Or we could, you know, just learn to let it go. ;)

Firefly that is, not Dollhouse.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-03-22 03:01 ]
Unfortunately, I don't see that happening, gossi. Which is a crying shame in my book.
The One True b!X, I completely agree with you. I didn't feel the Firefly pain because I didn't like the show when I saw it on TV but I gave it another chance on DVD after I watched the movie. So by then it was long over. But I would feel the Dollhouse pain if the show doesn't come back. I need my Eliza+Joss fix.
Supposed to be the first episode, according to a Dushku interview, that isn't fudged with by FOX.

This episode is indeed a noticable improvement over the first five. The level of writing and plot stepped up a level or two.

The whole conversation with the F.B.I. agent and the guy who hired Echo, was good stuff.

Topher still sucks and I'd like to see him get killed off. And the scoring for the show still sucks as well (I'm going to keep asking for a composer change until it happens).

The preview for this episode last week sure did make it seem more epic in scope than it was and like there would be a hell of a lot more happening in this episode, but it was just clever editing, that's all. Still, I found myself more engrossed in this episode and actually -- for the first time -- enjoying watching it.

Maybe Joss thought that twist ending there would be a surprise, but considering his M.O., did anyone actually think that that Handler was just going to "get away with it"? Come on.

And a touching kind of sad ending with a song that made it work well.

Preview for next week looks like enough to keep me going. Hell, if the episodes keep being this much better and improve, I'll probably stick around for the remainder of the S1 run. And I think re-filiming and re-writing of the first five episodes would help the series TREMENDOUSLY. That and whipping the execs at FOX who fudged with it until they bleed. If only we could tear their skins off like a certain dark witch did in BTVS...
Heh, heh. Kinda'reminds me when "Angel" was cancelled. Before everyone gets in a pitchy fork mood, remember that Fox IS giving this show a run.

Oh my gosh, did I just defend Fox?!

SNT, think I need my head examined, must be a flaw in there some place....
They should just call Ballard Helo and Tanaka Romo and try to get some BSG fans.
I think the reason this week's episode is so important is that it opened up the show. We now have a mystery, an unsolved mystery, that we need to keep tuning in for week after week to start working out. This sits much better with me, that the stand alone style of eps we've had up to this point. I like my shows to have an underlying story throughout a series/season, and finally Joss has given us one, besides the Ballard is trying to find the DH/Caroline one. It wasn't my favourite ep. I think I still prefer Target the most for the Boyd stuff, and the Alpha stuff. But it was good. And it was this ep, that has me finally feeling like I will be screwed over if Joss doesn't get his shot at a second season.
FWIW, from an LA Times blog about the BSG finale showign in LA.
[Penikett] also seemed to be fretting about the fate of his new show, "Dollhouse." "We're waiting to see how it all goes," he told me. "We're hoping to get the numbers up...."

One thing I find troubling is that Fox.com and Hulu.com no longer have the first episode of Dollhouse available. Doesn't seem logical if you want to attract new viewers to a serialized show like Dollhouse to limit the show's online availablity to only the last 5 episodes aired. Its just seems to me that the numbers might not grow as much as they could if Fox does not provide new viewers a means to catch up with the rest of us who are gushing about the show.

[ edited by mangydog on 2009-03-22 17:03 ]
Almost all current running shows on Fox are limited to the last 5 eps. The pilot of Dollhouse falling off the queue is not that important.
If only we could tear their skins off like a certain dark witch did in BTVS...

Just for the record, I think murdering FOX executives is probably a vibe we don't want to go for. Especially since many of the problems people are complaining about online are kinda Joss's fault.
I don't see MoTS available on iTunes. Does anyone else? In the past iTunes posted it by Saturday morning, and we're already 24 hours past that this week...
That and whipping the execs at FOX who fudged with it until they bleed. If only we could tear their skins off like a certain dark witch did in BTVS...


I missed this earlier. Please don't make comments like that here ever again. It's highly unpleasant.
Yeah, SteveP. What is up with the lack of iTunes presence for MoTS? Perhaps it's an experiment to see how this affects Hulu viewage in the short term? Or perhaps somebody dropped the ball. Whatever. I would like very much to download this baby from iTunes and play it when I want to, where I want to. It's the 21st-century way.
It's number one again on Hulu though. Good stuff! Hopefully people are watching and loving this episode and getting the positive buzz out there.

gossi, why do you say the problems were Joss's fault? He rewrote the pilot, and adopted the format of the first five episodes to please Fox right? Or are you referring to some other problems?
Right now I'm more worried about Terminator than Dollhouse. I actually feel like its going to get a second season, where everyone's pretty much resigned to Terminator being cancelled without them having actually done it. I really really really hope they don't; its an amazing, underrated show with great writing and compelling characters. Ill be just as upset if they cancel Terminator as if they cancel Dollhouse. Why even bother making these shows if you're not going to give them a proper chance? Firefly fans, sympathize now, please.
CarpeNoctem, TSCC has had a proper chance. It's in its second season, and it will finish its second season, with absolutely abysmal numbers. There's a huge difference between the way TSCC was handled (you know... well) and the way Firefly was.

You can't expect FOX to give it 7 seasons when bars and tone would draw better ratings.
Hah. I don't know if anybody knew this or not (I had no idea), but Fran Kranz was the lead in a CBS show last year. Check out this link. I've got to track that down!
I watched the pilot to that show on a flight to Canada. I didn't recgonize Fran Kranz though when I started watching DH. How interesting!
I watched Welcome To The Captain after finding out he was cast in Dollhouse. It's nothing great, but I had fun watching it.
I had watched Welcome to the Captain when it was on (mainly because it was Jeffrey Tambor). The show was pretty awful, and Fran was, I'll admit, nothing special in it. However, when he was announced as playing Topher in Dollhouse, I could instantly see how he'd work in the part...and he is.
Fran Kranz is in a movie coming to the Reel World Festival in Toronto - Shades of Ray, starring Zachary Levi (Chuck). And yes, I have a ticket.
I'm also pretty interested in Gossi's claim that something was Joss's fault...? What are you referring to Gossi?
Well, one could argue that Joss has had to cave to network pressure before and still performed admirably. So if people had problems with the writing of the first five episodes, you can't lay the blame solely on the network, since he has been in the same situation before and done wonderfully.

But I was a fan of the first five episodes (and the sixth), so I can't speak much further on the subject.
I think the first five episodes were fine, were entertaining, but played a bit dated. Things we would have been fine with pre-BSG and pre-Lost are now unacceptable. Minor MotW storylines need to be on the back burner of an episode while we deal with the primary story of the characters. At least, in the Sci-fi viewership.

Even Stargate's getting all dark and survivory, but if they try that reset button at the end of every episode, I think they'll become a laughing stock.

Joss caved to network pressures because that's his bloody job. He didn't come up with a show and then pitch it to Fox, Eliza asked him to come up with a show to fill her contract with Fox, they bought the idea, and then got noiry art when they wanted a new Prison Break. So he retooled, and now we have noiry Prison Break, with a bunch of Philip K. Dick peppered in.
I thought the first 5 eps were fine too (with the possible exception of True Believer). But I think it's difficult for anyone to claim that they reflect Joss at his best, or that they are remotely comparable in quality to episode 6. My only point is that the relative weakness of eps 1-5 is more attributable to Fox than to Joss (unless gossi knows something I don't).
I don't know if it's fair to say that. As Jobo said, there has always been network pressure, and they may or may not have pushed for things that weakened the early episodes, but the creator is still responsible for whatever they put out. I think he put out a good show so I'm not complaining, but I agree with gossi that (maybe I'm putting words in his mouth?) it's a bit too easy to blame everything that doesn't work on the network and give Joss credit for everything that does work.
Plus, we have Joss explicitly stating that some of the stuff that made MotS so great was indeed pitched by the network.
Are you suggesting Joss is not a genius whose ideas are perfection in isolation and FOX isn't a creative pestilence that messes up everything with its input? Because that's crazy reasonable!
Frankly I don't see this 'reasonable' thing catching on. Seems like a lot of work.
Re: Dollhouse vs. BSG

The ratings for BSG "took off" at 2.1 million total viewers. Dollhouse is floundering in third place with 4.13 million viewers. Yes, one is on cable and the other is not, but this show nobody gets (except I think I do get it) has twice the number of viewers as the cult hit.

I liked MotS far better than the BSG finale. After watching the latter for the last six years, the finale in all its Return of the Kingness took the easy way out of explaining everything.
For me, two things distinguish Joss TV from the rest: wit* and the stand-out performances of one or two principals or guest stars. The plots, as distinct from the themes and metaphors, are usually the standard stuff of the chosen genre (horror, comic-book superhero, noir, sci-fi)... the kind of stuff that any other scriptwriter or TV producer working in the same genre would be expected to crank out as well or better. Dollhouse has been disappointing thus far not in that it has been generally bad TV -- it hasn't -- but that it has been weak Joss TV: hit-and-miss on the wit and mostly miss on the stand-out performances. That said, the standard genre stuff has worked just fine and has made for conventionally satisfying TV ... just not (for me) compelling Joss TV.

Ep 6 was better than eps 1-4 and about as good or slightly better than 5. The best parts were the performances of Mellie and guest star Ratatouille-guy's turn as the Internet mogul. The story itself was more intense and there was greater craft and care in staging the spectacle aspects (e.g., the kitchen fight in the Chinese restaurant, the attempted murder of Mellie). All examples of good but still pretty standard genre TV.

*As to what I mean by "wit," I'm not talking about quippy, clever dialog, although certainly that's one example. In that area I think DH has been pretty solid. Fewer one-liners, perhaps, but so what? The amount of wit at the level of dialog has been appropriate to the kind of story Joss is trying to tell (actually, as much as I enjoyed Mellie's lines in ep 6, they seemed jarringly charming and clever -- only because they were nowhere in evidence in previous episodes).

The wit I have in mind is found in the use of themes and metaphors (high school as a literal hell, for example, in Buffy) and the delightful metatextual "commentary" or tour-de-force twists of the storyteller. These latter examples of wit are the thrilling little deviations from the storytelling norm that suggest to me that the storyteller (Joss) knows his material and is having some fun coloring outside the lines. The title of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is as pure an example of this that I know. The show itself is filled with examples of this kind of witty zigzag from the usual expectations: Angel's reversion into a soulless predator, the death of Jenny Calendar, the wonderful gimmick of playing out almost an entire episode without speech (also a great example of witty treatment of themes and metaphor).

To date, there has been nothing like this on Dollhouse.
True, 1ststarbuckstown, there hasn't been anything like that on Dollhouse... but when did Buffy really take off? For me, I'd say midway through season 2, with Surprise and Innocence. I'd say the first 6 episodes of Dollhouse are FAR better than the first 6 episodes of Buffy.

[ edited by jfhlbuffy on 2009-03-23 17:32 ]
There's a couple of things often being cited online as to things FOX messed up with Dollhouse.

1) FOX changed the episode order. Wrong. Actually: Joss did. He says so in the Maxim interview, explicitly, that he suggested doing it.

2) FOX made joss do "6 pilots". Wrong. That was always Joss's plan. You can find it in the very first interviews for Dollhouse back November 2007, where he talks about that idea. You can also find Joss talking about how he did it for Angel and Firefly, on the DVD commentaries for those shows.

3) FOX made the new first episode bad. Kinda wrong. Whilst I definitely think FOX's notes led the wrong direction, Joss Whedon wrote and directed "Ghost". He wrote every line. Every scene. He was on set every day directing everything.

FOX absolutely shares part of the blame for the thing initially not gelling. But they're not this evil faceless corp trying to mess up their shows. They asked for it to be funnier, more action packed. They said "The Target" was a brilliant script. They said make the show more like that. They pitched many of the things in "Man On The Street" - Joss talks about this in interviews. So, ya know. Maybe, just maybe, FOX had a point in some of the things they were saying.
Choosing to scrap the original pilot is another frequently cited example of FOX meddling that keeps getting misrepresented. Joss made the call, not FOX. Based on FOX feedback, so again, they share the responsibility.
I think this reasonableness and rational thing is most likely doomed. Kinda interesting to watch another myth about a Joss show being created and snowballing right in front of our eyes. Crazy how that happens.
If it gets renewed, things will get very interesting.
If it gets cancelled, things will get very interesting too. 'cos the myths will live on. It's like Firefly - who reordered those episodes? The evil FOX, right? Yeah - not so much.

Somebody did point out to me the other day in the pub that sometimes it's better to leave people to believe in myth. Which, you know, fair enough.
Fan history is written by those who write the Whedonesque headlines.
We should start calling it TV's Hit Dollhouse in the headlines, then. Although I think Tim Minear tried that already..
Right, but cancellation feeds into the present myth. Renewal challenges the myth, so then it needs to revised.

In which case I guess it either becomes the show FOX tried to hard to kill but couldn't (for those who like it) or the show FOX slowly smothered with mediocrity and kept because it sufficiently sucked to meet their crappy standards (for those who don't like it).
Somebody did point out to me the other day in the pub that sometimes it's better to leave people to believe in myth. Which, you know, fair enough.

It's like bizarro-Jaynestown. Please just let us have our imaginary villain.

[ edited by Jobo on 2009-03-23 19:37 ]
Frankly I don't see this 'reasonable' thing catching on. Seems like a lot of work.

I know it's left me exhausted, and I won't be trying it again. Also, Joss Rulz! Down with FOX!

Fan history is written by those who write the Whedonesque headlines

Hee hee.

ETA I do actually think Joss Rulz ;)

[ edited by catherine on 2009-03-23 19:42 ]
To add to what Gossi said, the "Echo" script is easy to find online, and while it's arguably better than "Ghost," it's still pretty weak. Yes, there's no "engagement of the week," which gives more room for character development and philosophizin', but it's also slow, needlessly confusing, overly talky, and entirely action free. I mean, literally not a single action sequence. Which, based on Joss pitching the show as "Alias" meets "Quantum Leap," I can kind of understand the FOX execs taking issue with.

I think "Ghost" suffered from being rushed, and from Joss not finding the tone of the new direction yet. But to me, "The Target," "Grey Hour," and "True Believer" are all stronger than the original pilot (at least based on the script).

"Man On The Street" does seem closest in tone to "Echo" (the pilot, not the character), but it's a more concise, intense, funny, and action-packed version of it. And it seems like it was the Fox notes that got it there, as Joss himself has said.
Soooooooooo... Fox are the good guys? My head hurts now.
More accurately, this isn't a situation with bad guys.
Can we make the people who aren't watching the show the badguys? ;)
Just make them watch the show SteppeMerc. Then maybe you can be considered the "bad guy." (I supposed that depends on your tactics for getting them to watch the show.)
I hve been getting people to watch the show. Not in a very bad guy manner though... Maybe I'd reach more people that way.
I've been linking to the fight scene on Hulu.
I can't believe it was almost three years ago that I was suggesting we use sandwich boards to get the word out about Serenity.

I guarantee it will make the evening news...which could translate to viewers. However the mention might not be in the entertainment segment. (In other words, they may think you're a whacko.)

[ edited by alexreager on 2009-03-23 22:00 ]
Here's what happens when Joss drives to FOX's offices for a meeting about Dollhouse. I was there taking notes.

JOSS ENTERS OFFICE.
He is dressed in ALL WHITE. He glows slightly. Like Peter Petrilli from Heroes, except with less emo hair. Or just hair.

FOX EXEC KEVIN REILLY ENTERS OFFICE.
He is dressed in ALL BLACK. He has a BLACK HELMET ON. Scary music plays. For the purpose of this memo we will call him Evil Bastard Exec.

JOSS
So, I hear you didn't like the Dollhouse pilot?

EVIL BASTARD EXEC
Yes, we do NOT. It was TOO GOOD. We want you to make it crap so we can CANCEL IT just to piss off YOUR FANS. It's not like we're a business and my job depends on us making successful shows so we can afford to pay my wage. Now die!

JOSS
Wait! Are you saying I should add some action, make it easier to understand since the audience might not be invested, make it look less like framed like a cable show and make it funnier and more involving before doing wacky Joss episodes?

EVIL BASTARD EXEC
Yes! No! I don't know. Joss, I have a secret... I AM

(Evil Bastard Exec took off his helmet)

EVIL BASTARD EXEC
Fury! David Fury. And I'm - yes - furious. And oddly hungry.

JOSS
Let's get lunch! Then we can discuss my next project whilst you cancel this one.

Then Joss and Kevin held hands in a romanic and entirely odd moment of joy.

That's how these things work, you heard it here first.
Then Joss and Kevin held hands in a romanic and entirely odd moment of joy.

You have this particular dream a lot, don't you?
I think THAT's the show I want to watch, gossi. :)
gossi has frightened me.
David Fury!!! I knew it!
I second everything bonzob said. Especially about "MotS" being a cooler, better version of "Echo" (the script), and about "The Target", "Gray Hour" and "True Believer" already kicking the show into higher gear than the original pilot had. ("Echo" may have been a great Season 2 episode, but it was just not a good pilot for me.)
And as for what gossi said:

There's a couple of things often being cited online as to things FOX messed up with Dollhouse.

1) FOX changed the episode order. Wrong. Actually: Joss did. He says so in the Maxim interview, explicitly, that he suggested doing it.

2) FOX made joss do "6 pilots". Wrong. That was always Joss's plan. You can find it in the very first interviews for Dollhouse back November 2007, where he talks about that idea. You can also find Joss talking about how he did it for Angel and Firefly, on the DVD commentaries for those shows.

3) FOX made the new first episode bad. Kinda wrong. Whilst I definitely think FOX's notes led the wrong direction, Joss Whedon wrote and directed "Ghost". He wrote every line. Every scene. He was on set every day directing everything.

FOX absolutely shares part of the blame for the thing initially not gelling. But they're not this evil faceless corp trying to mess up their shows. They asked for it to be funnier, more action packed. They said "The Target" was a brilliant script. They said make the show more like that. They pitched many of the things in "Man On The Street" - Joss talks about this in interviews. So, ya know. Maybe, just maybe, FOX had a point in some of the things they were saying.


I would like to have that somewhere more visible. Maybe a dollverse-post? Maybe stop the snowball before it gets out of hand?
David Fury, cool. Can't wait to episode two when they figure out that if they show an hour a week of Echo's life in real time everything goes fine.
A lot of people are complaining about FOX messing up Dollhouse. If it wasn't for FOX, we wouldn't have Dollhouse, or any new Jossness on our TVs to enjoy today! So, I say "Thank you" to the FOX bosses for putting Dollhouse on the air!
I'm going to reaffirm my original point, which is that the relative weakness of eps 1-5 has more to do with Fox than with Joss. Sure, assigning blame can be a complex endeavor, but I think one plausible way to come at the issue is to ask whether Fox's involvement can be said to have added to, or detracted from, the quality of the show. Taking gossi's points in reverse order, here goes:

(1) Ghost. Yes, Joss himself rewrote and reshot the pilot episode in its entirety and so is in some sense ultimately responsible for its quality. But he did so as a result Fox's notes. Without Fox's involvement, the original pilot would likely have remained the actual pilot. The only question then, is whether the actual pilot (Ghost) was better or worse than the original Pilot (Echo). From what I've seen, the general critical consensus is that Echo was the better show (though some on here evidently disagree). The conclusion: Fox's involvement resulted in a lower quality pilot episode.

(2) The quality of the early episodes: Whatever Joss may have said about starting off with "pilot" episodes, he has clearly stated that it was Fox's "mandate" to "go ahead and just really make the first several episodes pure standalone engagement." This emphasis on standalone engagements to the exclusion of the "mythology that would play out over time" is precisely what most people have been complaining about in these first few episodes. Again, yes, Joss is the creator, he's ultimately responsible, the buck stops here, etc., etc., but the bottom line is still the same: But for Fox's "mandate", we would have had (I believe) a significantly stronger set of early episodes.

(3) As to the sequence of the early episodes, I think this is largely unimportant to quality, since eps 1-5 are all fairly comparable in quality, and since their "standalone" emphasis makes sequence essentially irrelevant.

Lest this post garner a deluge of outrage on behalf of Fox's tragically misunderstood executives, a few caveats: I'm not saying I think Fox Execs never add value, or that Joss never goofs up when left entirely to his own devices. What I am saying is that any issues in the first 5 eps are MORE attributable to Fox than to Joss -- at least in the sense that those eps would likely be stronger overall if Fox had never gotten involved.
Lest this post garner a deluge of outrage on behalf of Fox's tragically misunderstood executives,

Hee.

I think in a case like this, it's "simpler" to attribute a creation to the creator, because we just don't know if the show would be stronger or weaker or dumber or stranger or what, without network notes, except that there are no shows made without network input as far as I know. I'm not sure I see the point of trying to dissect what is Joss's "fault" and what is the network's "fault." I agree that this last ep was the strongest, but we'll see where it goes from here. I liked eps 1, 2, 4, and 5 a lot too.
Here are the final numbers. Nothing much changed (4.14 instead of 4.13 million viewers) but we do get a glimpse at the 25-54 demo which is seldomly published: Dollhouse got 1.8/5 there, being tied second in the timeslot. They also have a quarter-hour breakdown.

ETA: This site has quarter hour breakdowns and 25-54 demos for almost all Dollhouse episodes.

[ edited by wiesengrund on 2009-03-24 11:17 ]

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