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April 04 2009

Ratings for episode 8 of Dollhouse. 3.49 million viewers, 1.4 in 18-49. "Unfortunately, there is no way to put a positive spin on the Dollhouse numbers this week." sez Media Week's Marc Berman.

The overnight recap:

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.
Episode 7 - 3.9 million, 1.3 in 18-49 demo, 4% share. (In the finals it was 1.4 in 18-49 demo).
Episode 8 - 3.5 million, 1.4 in 18-49 demo, 5% share.

Every Saturday morning, man. What a way to start the weekend.

Is it over? Can I stop thinking about it?
Episode 7 scored a 1.4 in the finals, not a 1.3. (That's just to not give the impression that there is a uptick this week...)
Sigh.

I really don't know what else to say about it.
Bye Bye Dollhouse. Too bad that the best episode of the series so far hit a new series-low.

Well, at least we have five more weeks of Whedon entertainment ahead of us and since Joss has "Cabin" in production, we at least have another Whedon-production to look forward to.
They really have to switch this show from Friday night. Its the death slot for sure. Renew it for season 2 and give it a decent time slot. I hope they are counting DVR, hulu, and itunes hits because everyone I know watches it when its not airing live.
This just really steams my brocolli, that two of my favourite shows are technically dead in the water. I wish networks would just wish that people don't watch "Live TV" anymore, and just forget this rating system ever existed. *stomps my foot and goes to pout.*
I'm going to say this before reading all the comments on the link makes me depressed: I think Dollhouse may have a chance if only because Fox has never renewed a Friday death slot show before, and maybe they'll decide to actually try letting one build an audience with a second season.

PS. I hate this part.
Ughhh... what a way to start a Saturday morning. I wonder what the ratings this week would've looked like had FOX actually promoted this episode during the week. It was a so-called "Awakening event" with no advertisement that I saw, other than during T:SCC 10 minutes before the episode aired. I guess I'll just resign myself to enjoy the rest of this season and the DVD release. Sigh.
I'm suddenly having a craving for steamed broccoli.
But at least they were kind enough to put an American Idol commercial in the middle of Dollhouse...I was really getting worried for those kids over on Tuesday nite!
I like broccoli.
But do you like hats? I seem to recall some talk about hat eating if this episode didn't do better than Echoes.
Hee. Trust me, I have not forgotten this helcat. I could try and spin the 18-49 being the same, but ultimately it's a series low in terms of millions of viewers. I will be eating my hat.
Would there be much point in Fox airing the remaining episodes?
Would there be much point in Fox airing the remaining episodes?

To please me. There doesn't need to be any other point.
Simon, they're definitely airing all the remaining episodes, that's without question. The numbers don't OMG!SUCK compared to whatever they would replace it with (say, Cops). In fact, they're better than Cops would do. The problem is they're probably not good enough to justify paying for more episodes to be made.

If anybody was wondering why it's not easy (possible?) to spin the Dollhouse numbers good: it wasn't against CBS March Madness basketball. It wasn't against a new Supernanny (which was beating it easily). It wasn't against new America's Top Model. And it got a series low. Day-am.
*sigh* Okay, I can't make any more excuses, this Friday was not a major sports event or a blockbuster movie opening night, and we still have lost even more viewers. I don't think I can kid myself into hoping Dollhouse will be renewed. Actually if I was hoping against hope it would still be that Fox is wanting to make more of a move into 'new media' and Dollhouse is their highest ranked show (I believe) on hulu and iTunes (not much money there, but it is getting their foot in the door). However I guess I'll just resign myself to the fact that we got this amazing (albeit short) series and the DVD w/commentary should be wonderful.
Let's look on the bright side - Dollhouse fan films should be cheaper to make than Firefly ones.
True! There's Dollhouses all over the world. DOLLHOUSE: LIVERPOOL will be fun to make!
Is that it? We're just giving up?? I still think that since the rest of the season is airing, if Fox would give it a better time slot - say, um Fringe's time slot - and promote it more, there is still a chance.

Maybe DH keeps losing numbers because everyone has been acting like it's already dead.

I say, Never give up, never surrender!!!!
BuffyGroupie, I don't think ratings have anything to do with what people post on the internet. If they did we'd be on season 24 of Due South.
I wonder if I can get an old dental chair on eBay...
This is just crappy. Damn it.
BuffyGroupie, I don't think anyone here is necessarily "giving up." FOX isn't going to give "Dollhouse" a different timeslot for the remaining episodes, they've been pretty clear on that, but they could actually make an effort to advertise the show.

On a related note, does anyone know an address to which I could mail a letter to FOX to ask them nicely to advertise the remaining "Dollhouse" episodes to give it a chance?
According to Ask Fox, FOX Network Primetime's mailing address is

FOX Broadcasting Co.
P.O. Box 900
Beverly Hills, CA 90213

Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh. I'll spare you all my several-essays-long rant/angst/crying/moping/fool's hoping.

(Also, wasn't last night episode 8? >_>)
Crap. Not sure how I didn't notice that. Fixed, thanks.
two questions:

Does it mean anything at all that the "share" has been consistant at 5% (is it wrong to read this as the show consistently holding onto about the same percent of total viewers, even as that number of total viewers goes up and down due to, I dunno, spring arriving or whatever)?

Is there any precedent for someone (Fox-the-studio-not-the-network? Joss? Mysterious financiers from Antartica?) buying and storing the set/props/costumes, allowing for possible future decisions on alternate routes of production of episodes (since I gather that the set was expensive to construct and its loss would be a major no-going-back point if anyone actually was scrambling to figure out other ways to make money off of making more eps)?

ETA: clarification: yes, I know the set occupies a soundstage, but am under the impression most sets are built with relative possibility of dissassembly/reassembly possible.

[ edited by doubtful guest on 2009-04-04 18:40 ]
This gonna sound weird...but I went into Dollhouse convincing myself that it was just a 13 episode mini-series. I found the ratings - and my expectations - much more tolerable *shrug*
Has Fox been advertising it at all, even for this so-called "special event" episode? I'm not sure how they expect it to pick up viewers without advertising it, even with the improving quality of the episodes.

Also, why is it the demographic number that matters so much? Because the millions of viewers and percentage share have remained relatively stable in comparison.

*shrugs* If this really means that there's going to be no Dollhouse season 2, I'll just have to resign myself to enjoying the last few episodes. It looks like Joss was expecting to only have 13 episodes anyway, and therefore tried to tell as much of the story and cover as much of the issues/ideas as possible.

ETA: And actually I would have no problem with Joss doing fabulous self-contained mini-series for the rest of his career. What upsets me is the derision from some individuals who think he is a failure because he can't get a series to a second season.

[ edited by flugufrelsarinn on 2009-04-04 19:01 ]
I wonder if there's any chance of the numbers bouncing back during these last few episodes. I mean, if they are great critically, and the numbers can go up maybe there's something there.
The demo matters so much is because that is the number that the advertisers are most interested in and most prepared to pay for.

As for advertising, FOX only has so much money each week to do trailers for upcoming shows and only so many spots to show them in. They tend to put their money and time where they think it'll do most good.
*sigh* I guess I can start moping now.
helcat, you do have to admit it's quite amusing they used Dollhouse's slot to advertise American Idol however. I've never heard of American Idol before.
I wish there could be a change of heart where TV networks are concerned regarding story-telling in general. The UK channels have quite a few self-contained series. Or short series which might span the year.

I'm interested in stories - not enlongated procedurals. It would be great if an interest in this form of story-telling/media could reamerge in the US. Normally it ocmes from remakes of classical literature, but there is definately a place for the what would be classified as a mini-series.

Everyone would know where they stood, that there would be a story in a package. I suppose it doesn't make any money? But a good story told well sells in any format....
Eh, I don't think this suggests that Joss is a failure. He's 2 for 4 as far as anyone should be concerned, and one of his so-called failures is widely considered as one of the finest television series' ever created, short-lived or otherwise.

I think the only thing this really suggests is that Joss hasn't adapted to today's TV mentality that things need to be hard hitting and explosive from the getgo. It seems like in all of Joss' TV series' he's revved things up slowly and let them build layers upon layers to hook you. TV just doesn't seem to allow for that anymore though, and instead you need the billion viewers from the very first episode or else it's kind of a death touch to the show.

That said, there's always the internet. That's where I watch 99% of my stuff anyway.
Tyshalle, you might watch 99% of your stuff online, but is all of that made for the internet?
I wouldn't be so mad, but Fox/Joss altered the show specifically so that it would get more rating and be a longer series. Thinking of Dollhouse as a 13 episode mini just doesn't work for me. "Needs" would not have been episode 8 in that case, it would have been episode 4 or 5. I guess it's good we get five more episodes, but if this was a "mini" it would be much more focused on Victor, Sierra, November, and Echo from earlier on. There was just too much bread in this season to let go of a second. Give us what we need.
Can I just ask:

Besides faith in Whedon based on all of his past greatness, are we sure this show, so far, is good?

I'm not. I don't get particularly excited about it like I would a Buffy, Angel, or Firefly episode. Frankly, I'm more interested in Friday Night Lights right now. And do we really care about any of the characters on this show? I don't think I do.

Maybe this show gets canceled, but maybe it's not that bad a thing.
thewhedonkid, it depends person to person. Some people love the show. Some hate it. Others like it. Nobody can be sure it's good, because good is entirely subjective.

Personally, I would have put it on Friday nights, too. It's like a jigsaw with all the right pieces, but for some reason no way to put them all together properly.
And do we really care about any of the characters on this show?


I like Boyd and Echo. Sierra, November and Victor I'm starting to feel some what protective of.

Then again I didn't really care about the characters in BSG that much but I still enjoyed the show.
Count me on the Victor and Sierra boat.
I think one of the sad, naive fallacies that we've all been living with is the idea that good, well written Whedoniness would ever equate to ratings success.

Even if this was the best written and produced Mutant Enemy material ever, I still think it would be a ratings failure due to public interests, lack of advertising, bad time slot etc. Let's face it, word of mouth can only do so much, and I still have plenty of friends who are too ignorant to appreciate Whedon shows.

I can't help but think back to the famous Buffy Season 2 advertisements that hyped every episode as a "major event" in the lives of Buffy and Angel. The public has been given nothing to draw their interests.
Biggest problem I had with the latest episode is that they gave away the plot in the beginning, it really should have been at the end when

Missed chance!

Loved the ep btw <- ;)
Geez r u really that much of naysayer whedonkid just be thankful that Joss is back on television and try to appreciate the utter uniqueness of his show love the shows you've mention esp buffy and angel and l plan to rally around dollhouse friday night lights come on your name says it all whedonkid whedon like Joss Whedon stay loose
How about instead of moping, we, as fans of Joss and "Dollhouse" do something constructive?

I know I will be using the address Simon gave above (thanks, btw!) to write to FOX about the lack of advertising for the last two episodes of "Dollhouse." I will also continue to use my Facebook status to show my friends the clips for upcoming episodes, and to remind them to watch on Fridays and online.

Anybody else feel like starting a letter-writing campaign to FOX? Grassroots internet publicity has helped shows with low ratings before, why can't it now? I mean, we're Joss Whedon fans for sobbing out loud! ;)
Thing is it isn't just bad luck that landed the show on a Friday. It landed there because after FOX saw the early episodes they seem to have lost faith that they could sell it as a mainstream hit so dumped the Monday plan and moved it off to Friday. Had the show started stronger FOX may have stuck with the stronger time slot.
Well, the one advantage to this Friday slot is that all of the episodes will be broadcast. Drive had higher ratings than Dollhouse, but was canceled within ten days because of the drop-off in ratings from its lead-in. The lower pressure of Friday did seem like it could give Dollhouse a good chance to build a solid footing.

But... last night's ratings do seem like a death knell. One among a string of the best reviewed episodes, no longer opposite event television - and the lowest ratings yet? The demo doesn't drop any further, but it's at too low a number at a 1.4, anyway. It does seem like the advertising is lacking now (although I couldn't swear to it being nil - in the lead-up to the premiere, when people were talking of it being well-advertised, I saw two, maybe three spots; so I may just not catch much Fox advertising in general). (OTOH, I did see enough promos for Lie to Me to get tired of the series before it even debuted....) If nothing else, I would think Fox would have some obligation to Dollhouse's advertisers to make some effort to attract viewers to the show rather than throw in the towel completely....

The only hope I can really see here is if 20th Century Fox, to ensure the revenue stream of additional DVD sets, heavily subsidizes the production costs of a Dollhouse season 2, making the show no more expensive for Fox Network than an untested new program (or middling-to-weak holdover) which may not do as well in the demo.
But see the thing is helcat, as I am under the understanding, FOX wanted Joss to make those first 4 filler episodes. So they themselves screwed themselves over. If they would've let Joss do his own thing without trying to put in their own input, maybe "Dollhouse" would've been on Monday nights and maybe it would've gotten some stronger ratings, but because of FOX trying to appeal to certain demos (which isn't always a bad thing) we got some of the weakest episodes first and they off bat decided it wasn't worth their Monday time slot.
Joss wanted to do the first 6 episodes as "pilots". i.e. episodes that reintroduce the characters. He did the same with ANGEL and FIREFLY, and even talks about it in the DVD commentaries of those shows.
Then again, it's not an easy show to fall in love with.
Are they going to put Prison Break with Dollhouse? If so, hopeful???
Harm, yes. There's new Dollhouse next week, then Dollhouse is off air the following week due to Prison Break. Then it's paired with Prison Break for the final 4 episodes of Dollhouse. Nobody knows which way the ratings will go, but given Prison Break has been off air for so long and is already cancelled, it might be a terrible idea.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-04-04 20:49 ]
So, instead of SciFi Friday, they can called it Forced Confinement Friday?

Big House/Dollhouse?
The only thing that can save Dollhouse now is Prison Break.

I'm not saying it will. It probably won't. But it's our last chance.
I really am too sad and angry to contribute anything helpful trying to make justifications, other than blaming American television audience. But that really isn't gonna help, so I'll let this be my only post here.
This doesn't factor in DVR's, right?

One thing I don't understand is that everyone is or will be using digital cable soon anyway...why not just Big Brother us? If it means they can see that I'm watching Arrested Development, or a Pushing Daisies, then fine.

The Nielsen ratings are flawed as all hell.
I think they don't monitor everyone's cable boxes and report on them is that many people don't like the idea of anyone 'spying' on them and thus unless cable companies wanted to lose viewers there'd have to be an opt out and once you've got that you've no longer got an accurate sample. Plus just knowing what the TV is showing doesn't give you viewer numbers as the TV could be playing to a house full of peak demo people or an empty room.

Nielsen's are flawed but so far it's all we've got to work with.

ETA: This also ignores the sizable number of people who still get their TV over the airwaves rather than via cable/satellite.

[ edited by helcat on 2009-04-04 21:18 ]
I don't think it's a simple as Fox wanting four "filler" episodes. They don't WANT their shows to fail. It seems to me there were two main problems at the network.

1) Joss pitched the show as "Alias" meets "Quantum Leap," but ended up writing a moody, complex, sci-fi noir.

2) Joss wrote a show about the Dollhouse falling apart/being taken down, before he had even established what the Dollhouse IS, and how it operates.

Fox basically said, hey, can you actually make it like "Alias" meets "Quantum Leap,"? Can we have Eliza wearing different outfits and going on different missions and helping different people each week? Which, if that's how Joss pitched it, is not really unreasonable. And, truth be told, I think part of why those episodes didn't work as well is that "procedural" shows are not Joss's strength. Long-term plotting is.

I also think Fox's notes were 100 percent right on number two. For all the fan complaints about the early "filler" eps, there are still people questioning how the Dollhouse functions, why people would hire a doll, etc., and we are eight episodes in. If Joss had started the show with eps similar to Man On The Street, Echoes and Needs, great as they are, I don't think it would have worked. You needed to set the Dollhouse up before you tear it down.

All that being said, I still feel the first eight episodes of Dollhouse are better than the first eight of Firefly or Angel. Buffy is a tougher call, although even then, as many others have pointed out, it didn't get amazing till the finale (Prophecy Girl).

It seems two of the major problems fans are having are 1) lack of banter, and 2) no likeable characters. But, to me, neither of those things make sense for the world of Dollhouse. As I said, this show is clearly a neo-noir. Take away the sci-fi trappings, and it's pure noir. The whole point is every character is partially corrupt, there are no true good guys or bad guys, and everyone is screwing over everyone else. It's not a world of funny wordplay and Joss's usual adopted families. It's every man for himself.

It reminds me of the switch Paul Thomas Anderson, one of Joss's favorite filmmakers, made between his early films and There Will Be Blood. As praised as that movie was, I know a lot of his long term fans were disappointed, for many of the same reasons - it wasn't a movie where you could feel the creator's love of the characters. Everyone was dark and twisted.

I think Joss originally wanted to go this way with Angel (remember how that was envisioned as a much darker show?), but he was somewhat constrained by the Buffy universe and the show's fantasy elements into making something a little more fun and funny. That show essentially morphed into more of an action/adventure, although it still had many trappings of noir: the LA setting, the Private Investigator, the (many) Femme Fatales, the conspiracy that's bigger than the hero could imagine, etc.

Anyway, I'm a little off topic... these ratings don't look good. Maybe we'll get a miracle and they'll pick it up, thinking it has potential to grow in season two. Sort of like what happened with the US Office. But that show was on NBC, which is struggling far more than Fox. And I don't get the sense Dollhouse has too many fans at the network.
dibs on the set when it gets canned.
I don't know if I can agree with bonzob that Dollhouse's first 8 eps were better than Firefly's first 8 eps.
All that being said, I still feel the first eight episodes of Dollhouse are better than the first eight of Firefly or Angel


I disagree with that completely, at least in Firefly's case (I'd argue Angel's first eight are better, too). Firefly's first eight episodes include Shindig, Our Mrs. Reynolds, and Out of Gas.
This show is great and just starting to heat up, if Fox throw in the towel now...
IMO they should stop sticking their nose in Joss's business and let him do what he does. Adding all the ratings that are AVAILABLE would indicate that Dollhouse is not doing bad at all.
(DVR,Hulu,Itunes)
I also agree that Fox should have actually advertised this show, which sadly they have not.
Joss should try like the devil to buy his Buffy rights back from Fox and take his Ponies elsewhere. His Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse rights, etc...Anyone who loves Fox, I appologize but honestly, seems as if they didn't even try to advertise this series at ALL.
Can I just end this by saying "Ghost Whisperer" is the substance of today's television success. What a pity.
I know most will disagree on that. I was never the biggest fan of Firefly. I love Our Mrs. Reynolds, Out Of Gas, War Stories, Ariel, and Objects In Space, and like Trash, The Message, and the original pilot. But The Train Job, Bushwacked, Shindig, Jaynestown, Safe, and Heart Of Gold never did much for me, outside of a few great moments. I'm one of those weirdos who thought Serenity (the movie) was everything Firefly should have been.

Whereas Dollhouse already has three episodes that I love (MOTS, Needs, and The Target), and three I think are very good (Echoes, True Believer, and Grey Hour). The only ones I thought were mediocre were the pilot and Stage Fright.

[ edited by bonzob on 2009-04-04 21:40 ]
I don't think it's a simple as Fox wanting four "filler" episodes. They don't WANT their shows to fail.

Absolutely, FOX gave notes because they wanted a show they felt they could be a hit and didn't see it in the original pilot. The question I have is did they just not pay attention to the show Joss pitched or did the pitch and the actual show just not match up. Whichever, I don't think FOX wished ill on the show, they just lost their belief in it as a commercially viable show and so stuck it on Friday to see what happened.
I don't get this 'the first eight episodes are better than x' argument. The seventh episode of Firefly was 'Out of Gas' by which I was absolutely head-over-heels in love with the show. I can't say about Buffy because I didn't start until much later, but when I showed season one to my brother, I had him at Welcome to the Hellmouth. I love the first season of Angel (the first Joss show I watched). I have yet to really connect with Dollhouse, though I've been watching.

I suppose part of the problem is that SF/Westerns and Vampires are sub-genres I already loved. I loved Nikita too (the show that seems to me most like Dollhouse) but I could connect to the characters who KNEW they were trapped. Besides, that was filmed in Toronto and I liked to look at the scenery.

I'll stick it out until the end, because it's Joss, but I shouldn't be feeling that sticking it out is something I have to do.
How can this show be doing so bad in the ratings? Everyone I know watches this show, and that's quite a lot of people, and then I have even more people watch it on the internet... WTF, mate?

After "Man on the Street", I finally sunk in with all the characters and got REALLY excited about this show. There is so much potential here!
because we don't count unless we have a magic box in our living room
How can this show be doing so bad in the ratings? Everyone I know watches this show

I have often noticed that things that are true of the general public don't seem to be true of anyone I know. I've come to the conclusion that, statistically improbable as it seems, everyone I know is a freak. :)
I'm still not giving up hope. There are a lot of shows that I loved that didn't get good until the very ends of their first seasons and then took off like crazy. Buffy being one and 30 Rock the other. I realize the vast differences between both of those shows and Dollhouse, but still.
FOX knows the risks and benefits of a sci-fi show. They also know that with Joss, there's already a built-in fan base and they just have to go up from there. I don't think Dollhouse will ever be another Buffy, but I do think that a second season would give it room to show us what it can really do. Most shows don't make their mark or amass viewers in their first season, anyway.
FOX isn't known for overall show quality or wise treatment of their few good shows, so maybe I'm being too logical. Look, I like Dollhouse, but it's not my favorite show. Still, there's some compelling stuff going on and that's what keeps me coming back. If FOX doesn't care about DVR or online viewing as much as live, then they should move it to another night. Simple as that. If they don’t, then they should expect these kinds of numbers. Also, they really need to advertise this show more. I saw a commercial for the pilot episode twice, and then nothing. Except for Joss related websites, I saw/heard nothing else about Dollhouse anywhere, and I watch a ridiculous amount of TV. People don’t just instinctively know when I good show is on, someone has to tell them. I was already excited about Dollhouse, but a lot of friends who where also Joss fans hadn’t even heard of it before I said something.
Here's my wish. Fox will say "screw it" to the actual ratings and give both Dollhouse and Terminator two more for sure years. Keep it on Friday nights and really promote it as their BIG Science Fiction night. Fox should know Sci Fi isn't what it used to be. I don't think people will be scared off. Hasn't comic con taught us anything? Give both shows "limited commercials", and do subtle yet affective product placement. In the next two years the core audience for these two shows will get DVR if they haven't already. Yes, a wish, but there ya go.
I've come to the conclusion that, statistically improbable as it seems, everyone I know is a freak. :)
Well, birds of a feather flock together.

At the very least, I think the show is successful in terms of getting people to discuss the issues.
I hope that people don't just say "ah, FOX sucks" if/when the seemingly inevitable cancellation is made. I think FOX did right by "Dollhouse", enough so that I *still* think they might, instead of just cancelling it, come back to the table with Joss and Eliza and think "how can we restructure this show into something we can sell?" and give it another chance. They didn't juggle it around the schedule.

If "Dollhouse" doesn't work out, it won't be a victim of network abuse in the way that many fans will want to complain about. It'll just have been a very entertaining but low-rated show that couldn't be kept on the air.

If it'll only going to be these 13 episodes, if no plan can be struck to move the show toward another phase, something that will engage a broader audience, then I do hope that Joss made these 13 episodes with some sort of worthwhile coda in mind. Think of "Prophecy Girl" -- Season 1 of "Buffy" could have, if cancelled, stood on its own narratively.
You aren't a Joss fan if you don't know about his new series...


Guys it's getting renewed. No worries.
I know plenty of Buffy fans who didn't know what Dollhouse is. Or who don't care.

EX, you might want to tell FOX they're renewing it.

KingOfCretins, the blame game has already begun. FOX forced the episodes out of order! They didn't market the show! They forced the '6 pilots'! etc. These things are, of course, false. But I guarantee that's how history will be written. It's very easy to blame the faceless.
Okay - I'm a huge Joss fan and I won't be blaiming anyone if this is cancelled or not renewed. I like the story, I'll be buying the DVDs and I'd watch season two.

However, the show doesn't have good numbers for the cost of the it. From a networks point of view it may not be enough for them. But they're showing the episodes, it's just that not enough people are watching!
gossi, it's how history might be written amongst Whedon fans -- I'm not convinced -- but I doubt even the typical industry or industry-related commentators are going to be able to find a way to bust FOX's chops if Dollhouse is cancelled (EW, TWOP).

I hope EX is right -- maybe, if Prison Break is a better lead-in, they'll get optimistic?
because we don't count unless we have a magic box in our living room John Darc


I used to have a magic box in my living room, but I kept coming home to find the proprietor dead with neck wounds. After that black-eyed chick broke in, I just gave up.
The first eight episodes of Angel, and Firefly, are way, way more better... and so was the casts of both shows... than Dollhouse.
I'm sorry, except for ED and AA, the rest of the supporting cast in Dollhouse I just can't stand! It's time to start killing off some of the supporting characters!
EX is not right. If Dollhouse continues with this ratings, it will be axed, no mater how much worries you have.

I think I saw someone saying that the first eight episodes of Dollhouse are better than Firefly's first eight. They're not. With Firefly we had Man On The Street every weak.
harmalicious, while I, unfortunately, have no faith at all that what you suggest will happen, your comment did make me think -- what if Fox decided that the utter silliness of "SyFy," post-Galactica, was their opening to go all out to build up one night in their schedule, as you suggest, as a scifi nite.
I can't speak for FOX's promotions department, but despite their platitudes on growing an audience it's obvious that Friday night serves them purely as a dumping ground for doomed shows. They can't pull the shows because of the fan backlash, but neither will they throw good money after bad through paying to promote things they probably just want to get over and done with.

At 3.49 million viewers, Dollhouse still gained on T:SCC's 3.35, so I will be madder than a wet hen if they drop Dollhouse and renew T:SCC.
missb: Yeah, that would be really damn lame.
Re: Dollhouse's quality: I completely disagree that Angel's first eight episodes were better than Dollhouse's. I mean, the premiere was fun and so were "In the Dark" and "Room w/a View," but "Sense and Sensitivity" (besides Kate's speech to her daddy, and his reaction later on) is not really Minear's best work, and, really, "Lonely hearts"? "The Bachelor Party"? "I FALL TO PIECES"? (And I'm one of the five fans who don't really like "I Will Remember You" very much, but I acknowledge that most people do.) I really don't think Angel hit its stride until Faith showed up at the season's end, in spite of a few very solid efforts earlier in the season (esp. "The Prodigal").

As far as Firefly: I think the first couple of episodes of Dollhouse were comparable to the first few episodes of Firefly (I mean "The Train Job", "Bushwhacked," "Shindig," and "Safe"--though they didn't air in that order) in quality. I'm not sure where I'd put "Man on the Street" in comparison to, say, "Our Mrs. Reynolds" though.

Anyway. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed and my expectations for renewal low.
- I'm not convinced -- but I doubt even the typical industry or industry-related commentators are going to be able to find a way to bust FOX's chops if Dollhouse is cancelled (EW, TWOP).

Dude, those are publications which say fans made Serenity happen with Firefly DVD sales and FOX reordered the Firefly episodes. Both of which are, you know, wrong. History doesn't really matter, and I can see why people write their own, but don't think for a minute major publications fact check. They'll tell whatever story we sell them.
It does no good to worry about time slots and lack of promotion or whatever else you want to lay at Fox's feet. Shows like Joss's are never going to be blockbusters.

It does bother me that the world has gotten so impatient that networks don't think they can let quality shows simmer for a couple years to give them a chance to build up the audience that makes them viable. I find it hard to believe that Firefly wouldn't have been a success if it had been allowed to continue for a couple of years.

Dollhouse OTOH, is a quality show, but also a very edgy one. Read Waxbank's reactions about how unsettling the show is (and is meant to be). The tragedy is that the quality that makes DH brilliant is probably the same quality that makes it unprofitable. I'm going to be very disappointed if it gets cancelled. But I can see their logic if they do cancel it.
Prison Break is hemorrhaging ratings and acclaim, so I doubt it will do better as a lead in.

And you people seem to think that FOX will invest time into a show if it does poorly. This is a business, people. They will gladly put on another hour of fat people trying to contort their bodies to fit into cut outs if it will give them more ratings. They are quick to cancel shows if it isn't an instant success. That fact that it's on FOX Friday might be the only thing keeping it alive.

I often wonder...would the show have done better as a lead in to 24? It's not exactly the same sort of show, and if it had done poorly on Monday nights, it would have been canned immediately. So it's either flounder on Fridays and then get good, or sink immediately on Mondays and not have a chance to even get to a "Man on the Street" or "Needs".
the problem is there is minimal promotion, not a great lead-in, and this was honestly one of THE best episodes of the series, thus far.

I think it's disappointing that it took this many episodes to get good, and many people who tuned in previously have given up on it - but had this episode come second or third in the season, then it might've been rated much higher.

Plus, there's a lot of geeks watching this show, and I think many of us watch online or DVR it. I know I watched it on Hulu (though I recorded it on DVR) - and it seems silly that Hulu doesn't make money for the networks, since there, I can't even fast forward through commercials!
They'll tell whatever story we sell them.
OK, here's the plan: we tell them we were, um, having tacos and we saw the silhoutte of Amy Acker in a tortilla, and, um, Barack Obama appeared in a cloud of cotton candy and said "Yea, verily, for it is easier for a camel to do a backflip than for an executive who cancels "Dollhouse" to enter Heaven"...and, um, then Simon Cowell drove up in a dune buggy and said that he feared American Idol would never last another season unless Dollhouse remained as a site to run Friday evening commercials, and, um, then Jesus, um, well, I dunno, but gotta work Jesus into this somehow!
I'll chip in to the "reinforcement of the endless diversity of opinion" portion of the thread.

Personally, I like all of the actors on Dollhouse (at least, now that Penikett has more to work with). As far as first eight episodes goes: IMHO, Firefly would be the greatest, with a near-perfect launch, with only "Safe" (and possibly slightly "Bushwacked") being less than excellent. I've enjoyed Dollhouse end to end more than many here have, and might actually rate its first eight ahead of BtVS' and Angel's, though.

Getting out the DVD set to remind myself exactly of what Angel's first eight episodes were shows it to be not quite as iffy as I remembered; while the three person cast and anthology format were weaknesses thankfully eventually left behind, there's still only two or three episodes in this bunch which I would consider somewhat weak in themselves. So I guess that leaves Buffy the Vampire Slayer, overall probably my favorite show of all time, as the IMHO slowest/least-impressive out of the gate - although it's hard to judge, with the obvious budgetary and musical constraints it's working against. Hmm... tie for Buffy and Angel? And my opinion could shift again when I see the Dollhouse eps as many times as I've seen the others; or possibly, in a couple hours...

So, I guess MHO subject to change - except re: Firefly, anyway: best launch ever! :)

(ETA: does it look to anybody else like I'm quoting doubtful guest's [very funny :)] post? Because I really didn't...]

[ edited by LKW on 2009-04-05 00:11 ]
ETA: meant to post this to the episode thread.

[ edited by doubtful guest on 2009-04-05 00:21 ]
There are two types of people who watch TV: those who want high quality with though provoking stories, and those who prefer the mind numbing pablum that is reality TV. Four of the top five show this season are about dancing celebrities and wanna-be idols. It's obvious to me that shows like Dollhouse cannot survive on broadcast TV (read free) due to the dumbing down required to get viewers. Even the higher rated dramas are predictable and repetitive. Cable is the only place where shows of quality can exist and grow. And while I haven't written off Dollhouse yet, I hope Joss' next show finds a better home on one of the cable channels.

I intend to just enjoy whatever remaining episodes of DH are aired and not worry about ratings or shares.
kmb99, I think it's overly simple to say there's two types of viewers. Many people have posted here to say they're American Idol fans before. I'm a huge Big Brother fan. And if you think that makes me less of a person, screw you. I'm not saying you do, of course, I'm just saying it's quite possible to not fit in a box of stupidity or intelligence when it comes to TV shows.
I think it's unfair to compare Angel to Dollhouse. The show started with two main characters already very well stablished on Buffy. Characters that had been around for three seasons. And then another character originated from Buffy was added to the main circle. Not only that but the "simple rules" to the universe were already set out.
I'm just hoping that the finale blows critics' mind holes enough that FOX decides to give it another go. I'm a fairly optimistic person apparently.
I think the last episodes will be really amazing. Tim Minear wrote and directed the 12th, can't wait to see that.
After watching this clip, I am reminded that anything is possible.
I don't think you can compare Dollhouse to Angel.

Angel was a spin-off of a successful show on a smaller network.Angel premiered at the height of Buffy's success.It featured two major characters from Buffy as the leads and then added a third one mid-season with Wesley.Plus Angel was paired with Buffy so you basically had a two hour Buffyverse block which was there until Buffy moved to UPN.

Angel had a lot more advantages at the start over Dollhouse.

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2009-04-05 02:18 ]

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2009-04-05 02:19 ]
"All that being said, I still feel the first eight episodes of Dollhouse are better than the first eight of Firefly or Angel."

Ha ha ha! Dollhouse has at best been ok with the exception of episode 6 that was actually rather good. Firefly is/was in another league entirely! I'm trying sooo hard to like Dollhouse but its just not doing it for me. There is a good story behind the vacant exterior but I fear it will be cancelled before we ever get to see it.
What Buffyfantic said.
I think we see here a demonstration that FOX doesn't know how to write a hit show, even when they bring a great writer and great cast to the screen. Not going to hold my breath waiting for them to believe that it may well have been their "fixing" that is responsible for the results. Again.

[ edited by htom on 2009-04-05 03:42 ]
Firefly is as close to perfect TV that I can remember seeing if my lifetime. I like EVERYTHING about it. Dollhouse isn't at that level for me, but I still enjoy it quite a bit.
FOX doesn't pretend to know how to write a hit show, that's why it hires other people to do that part of the process. It has also shown that it can oversee the development of hit shows - House and 24 have both thrived with FOX and I doubt they were immune from notes in their first season. It's clearly very easy to blame FOX for Dollhouse's failings but Joss has said repeatedly it was his choice to reshoot the pilot and I have to assume he wrote the best pilot he could.
Does anyone think it's a possibility that the show could be moved to FX for a second season? Are there lower expectations as far as ratings go for an FX show?
All the cable networks have lower rating expectations than the networks. The question would be could FX afford a show like Dollhouse and could the show be made for the kind of budget that FX could live with. Plus does it fit their current brand which has been very much gritty dramas set in the real world though I'll admit not being up to date with what they have currently.
The one thing I was wondering is how BSG, which I assume has a large budget, could get by with the ratings it did. I know it was on the network formerly known as SciFi, but I have to assume that the cost of the episode was pretty high, what with the CGi space ships, Cylons, and all. Does anyone know how BSG compared to Dollhouse cost wise? I know that effects are not the only expensive thing, what with salaries and stuff, but still.

And I know I broke my promise and posted here. But I'm staying away from discussion of the ratings and comparison to Dollhouse to other Whedon shows for now.
The one thing I was wondering is how BSG, which I assume has a large budget, could get by with the ratings it did.

According to bobw1o:

...regarding the cost of dollhouse versus the cost of BSG. BSG shoots in Vancouver. Film/TV industry is cheaper in Canada than California. They have tax breaks that CA doesn't. Also, Dollhouse shoots on film, BSG on HD. In fact, the stye of camerawork on BSG means they need a lot less equipment to pull of the shots, and also means they shoot faster, so less overtime (you wouldn't believe how much money productions waste on OT) and possibly fewer days to shoot. BSG stays on stage most of the time which is cheaper than going to location as often as Dollhouse, and BSGs locations are cheaper to get. I could probably go on, but you get the idea.

I'm not saying Joss couldn't successfully do a show on a cable network (the Shield was shot in LA for example, although same camera style as BSG and on 16mm film instead of 35mm, so cheaper equipment and film) I'm just saying he would certainly have to take a hit in budget from what he's used to.

Aha. Thanks for that. The most depressing thing for me is that not only will Summer be gone off TV, I was hoping that maybe she could join Dollhouse or something. Now, I don't think that's a gonna happen. Now excuse me while I go watch some comfort Whedon TV.
Angel was a spin-off of a successful show on a smaller network.Angel premiered at the height of Buffy's success.It featured two major characters from Buffy as the leads and then added a third one mid-season with Wesley.Plus Angel was paired with Buffy so you basically had a two hour Buffyverse block which was there until Buffy moved to UPN.

Assuming everyone watching Angel previously watched Buffy. I did not. Neither did my dad, for that matter, which surprised me when he mentioned it. And I loved that first season.
I too, hope Joss has written a final ep that could be taken to lead into a new season, or at least leave you feeling like its not the end of the world if there is no new season. I'm just getting into the shows undertones. The ratings are not good however. I had hoped the big drop from last week was the basketball, or the Fox signal issue, and it would bounce back this week. It hasn't, and it's not got much time left to do so. About the only thing in it's favour is the demo share has stayed much the same, and the share is what's important I guess. Sure you might only get 3.5 million viewers, but as long as that equates to the right percentage of all 18-49 year olds watching TV that night, then it's all good yeah? Not that I think ending the series on anything less than a 1.6 for the last 2 episodes would even be considered as the right percentage of course.
The other networks' numbers are quite pathetic also.

Is there a way to see how the difference between them shift from week to week? The numbers are smaller, but maybe the gap shrunk?
I actually kind of really liked this episode... the ending definately made me want to see more.
Dollhouse got picked up in the UK. That has to count for something. Maybe against the cost of production.

Also read the Dollhouse DVR numbers are great. Those DVR people might not watch anything Live on Fox on Fridays no matter what Fox put on.
Just for comparison, the four weeks leading up to this week for a few shows

TSCC:
3.96m/1.0
3.5m/1.2
3.65m/1.3
3.83m/1.3
->3.53m/1.3

FNL:
3.8m/1.2
4.4m/1.5
3.85m/1.2
3.95m/1.2
->3.61m/1.2

DollHouse:
3.5m/1.5
4.3m/1.6
4.1m/1.5
3.9m/1.4
->3.5m/1.4

looks like there was less viewers around the board this week, but we did hold the demo from last week... just

[ edited by Ivalaine on 2009-04-05 11:57 ]
There are two types of people who watch TV: those who want high quality with though provoking stories, and those who prefer the mind numbing pablum that is reality TV. Four of the top five show this season are about dancing celebrities and wanna-be idols. kmb99 | April 05, 00:34 CET


At the risk of incurring the wrath of gossi, I have to say that I agree with this. Of course you can't generalize 100%, and what different people find entertaining can be subjective to a degree, without falling into a black and white "either creative and smart, or mindless and stupid" model.

But in general, I totally agree that the vast majority of TV viewers prefer mindless junk, to quality. Factor in subjectivity to a degree, but tasteless and dumb are still words with at least somewhat objective definitions.

ETA: I've long been in the "Joss belongs on a cable network" camp. I'm sure he could adjust to the budget requirements. None of my favorite cable shows (which equals almost everything I watch on a regular basis) have a "low budget" look.

[ edited by Shey on 2009-04-05 12:02 ]
How can this show be doing so bad in the ratings? Everyone I know watches this show, and that's quite a lot of people, and then I have even more people watch it on the internet... WTF, mate?


You hardly know anyone.

When Whedon fans accept that the only thing that matters in television is money, that they tend to fit inside a miniscule demographic slice of the United States, and that Whedon doesn't make what most human beings understand as 'television'...well, that'll be an interesting day.

Fans often let their enthusiasm substitute, in their minds, for things like viewership ratings. Same thing with romance: 'But how can things be this bad when we love each other So Very Much?' This is the funny variety of narcissism, I suppose.

Did you know that Seinfeld, back when it was the #1 or #2 show on American television, was something like #87 among black viewers? That fact didn't matter to NBC, 'fairness' in representation aside, 'catholic' (small-c) programming philosophy aside, shared experiences aside, common culture aside. NBC didn't care because the money was absolutely pouring in. It didn't have to care - good thing too, because corporations can not care.

The success of BtvS was an accident - only on such a paltry network as the WB could that show have survived - and it bought Joss years of goodwill.

Hollywood is not a meritocracy; it's a whorehouse. Joss is making a show, among other things, nastily critical of Hollywood. If it succeeds, it does so by accident. The system's not in place to support such programming.

Maybe we all should stop relying on network goddamn television for our doses of fairness and joy.
When Whedon fans accept that the only thing that matters in television is money, that they tend to fit inside a miniscule demographic slice of the United States, and that Whedon doesn't make what most human beings understand as 'television'...well, that'll be an interesting day.


Your argument falls down as the concept of Whedon fans as one monotholic block is somewhat of a fallacy.

There are two types of people who watch TV: those who want high quality with though provoking stories, and those who prefer the mind numbing pablum that is reality TV.


Horses for courses. When reality tv is done well, it knocks the spots off most drama shows. And I'd like to think people can enjoy oysters as well as snails.
gossi -

kmb99, I think it's overly simple to say there's two types of viewers.


You're right, there are many many different ways and reasons to want stupid comforting pabulum pumped into your brain by corporate shills.

If you're watching gutter-dwelling trash like Big Brother, validating the networks' choices to throw up cheap quick-hit 'reality' TV instead of costly, more meaningful scripted dramas, then you're part of the reason Dollhouse is in trouble.

This is not a personal attack, of course; it's only to point out the relationship between the two phenomena. Most people, most of the time, turn to television for comfort. Since its inception that's been its default function; it's a conservative 'consensus narrative' medium, and those only stage debates that the culture is ready to have. Shows like Big Brother and American Idol - fake scandals, middling talent, grotesque histrionics, superficial sex, whitebread reactionary Middlebrow Culture, etc., etc., etc. - offer no challenge whatsoever. (Not even to corporate media dominance, in the case of American Idol.) They're part of the evolution of culture, they sometimes land on the left of the Gaussian and sometimes the right, they momentarily lead but mainly fucking follow; yeah, yeah, yeah.

But they're stupid morally simplistic carnival shows and we shouldn't pretend that our affection for 'reality' TV has anything to do with its dramatic weight. The appeal is a specific variety of fake risk. Of comfort.
Your argument falls down as the concept of Whedon fans as one monotholic block is somewhat of a fallacy.


You're misusing the word 'argument' here.

Obviously the only thing TV networks care about is money, i.e. power. Obviously Whedon's fans come from a variety of backgrounds and so forth, and connect to the shows for a whole spectrum of reasons. But more importantly: almost no one actually watches his shows. You do get that, right? How many people have seen Buffy more than once in the decade-plus since it's been on? Let's say, ten million? Twenty? Twenty million seems high to me but whatever.

OK, grant twenty million.

Do you realize that the 'Who shot JR?' episode of Dallas brought in three quarters of the television viewers in the entire United States? And that's a late-prime-time hour as well, not for young people.

Did you know that nearly half the TVs in America were turned to the Survivor first-season finale?

Statistically speaking, there are hardly any Joss Whedon fans in the first place. Their loudness does not constitute numbers.

So do tell, Simon. By all means, talk to me about how Whedonites are equally likely to be found in Williamsburg and Appalachia, in Orlando and the Haight and downtown Houston. Equally white and black and every other hue. (Actually, spare yourself that misery.) Equally likely to watch Gossip Girl and American Idol and Oprah and SpikeTV. Likely to go out and Buy American and stay on for whatever's on after their precious show-of-the-night. So numerous that a couple million bucks an episode is a totally reasonable investment for anaesthetic industrial moneymen to make.

There's next to none of us, man. And as far as the Top 20 Broadcasts of the Week are concerned, we're just not important. Every Josshole could stop watching TV entirely this week and - betcha anything - the list of the top XYZ shows wouldn't change at all.

The mainstream looks more like us than it used to. But it still doesn't look anything like us.
waxbanks, Big Brother in the UK held probably one of the most confrontation debates on race relations of our generation. (The Jade Goody and Shilpa Shetty incident). It marked a true clashing of cultures and backgrounds, and showed how uncomfortable as a society we are dealing with things.

You wouldn't, however, know that - since you haven't seen it, since you're busy picking apart how awful these shows are, and you're in a different country.

Of course, I'm not part of the problem Dollhouse has. For a start, I'm in a different country, pirating the show. Secondly, if watching reality means I can't have Dollhouse, then bye bye Dollhouse. I want a wide variety of programming, and if you think you have the ability to call shows I watch "gutter-dwelling trash" and have me care what you think, you're sadly mistaken.
Wow, waxbanks. Bitter much? Why don't you tell us what you really think?

[ edited by QingTing on 2009-04-05 13:58 ]
I have to admit waxbanks you might want to tone it down a just little bit. Your posts are coming over like you are having a go at me or anyone who debates with you. Which I imagine is not what you intend.
I'm as guilty of watching 'Bridezillas' and 'Beauty and the Geek' as the next person, but there is no way I would ever buy those shows on DVD and re-watch them repeatedly. They're the Maccas of TV, cheap and digestible, even though you know there are better options out there.

I know the renewal decision will be made long before the Dollhouse DVD is even released, but I do hope that more and more people will get into the show when able to watch it in the context of an entire, completed season.

Because even if the cooking process has been uneven, a good steak sure beats cheap hamburger mince, anyday.
Do you realize that the 'Who shot JR?' episode of Dallas brought in three quarters of the television viewers in the entire United States? And that's a late-prime-time hour as well, not for young people.

Did you know that nearly half the TVs in America were turned to the Survivor first-season finale?


At the end of the day, does it matter? Who talks about Dallas and the first season of Survivor these days? Quality wins out. More people read penny dreadfuls than Dickens back in the 19th Century but we still read Dickens today.
Somebody posted the Terminator ratings above - the interesting thing there is Terminator is trending up the ratings in the way people were hoping Dollhouse would. I think next week Terminator may overtake Dollhouse in 18-49.
For those who follow ratings historically, do Nielsen and the networks focus on different demographics during an economic crisis? I was reading that the recession is hitting 18-35s the hardest. So wouldn't the 18-49 demographic needs to be broken down more? At the moment which age group has the spending power that advertisers crave?
Only after having dived down Gossi.
Ivalaine, yes. I'm not saying Terminator has a shot - I'd be gobsmacked if it got renewed as it can't be profitable with these ratings - but nevertheless it has started to trend up like we hoped Dollhouse would.

Simon, Nielsen do all kinds of reporting. You can get just about any kind of information from them if you're an advertiser or network. For example, they do a report on top shows on broadcast TV watched by households earning over $100k. These are seen as premium households by advertisers for obvious reasons. The top show for the past two years in that category? The Office. Closely followed by 30 Rock. So whilst those shows aren't exactly TV hits, they earn the networks a pretty penny.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-04-05 14:37 ]
Most of the people I know who watch "Dollhouse" watch it on DVR, Hulu, or iTunes, because they work or are otherwise engaged on Friday nights. A number of them are college students who have to work Friday nights because of their class schedules, but they still make a point of watching "Dollhouse."

The reason shows like American Idol do so well is because kids watch them. "Dollhouse" is not a kids' show, so it's not going to draw the megamillions of babies who aspire to be humiliated in public by overpaid a-holes.
Dollhouse got picked up in the UK. That has to count for something. Maybe against the cost of production.

It got picked up by a tiny cable channel, this won't have brought in much money in TV terms.

Also read the Dollhouse DVR numbers are great. Those DVR people might not watch anything Live on Fox on Fridays no matter what Fox put on.

Dollhouse does well on DVR but even with those numbers added in the ratings are still pretty anemic. Last time I checked the much reviled Ghost Whisperer had more actual DVR viewers than Dollhouse for instance.

Also not getting into the 'TV viewers can be divided in two' side of things but it's worth remembering even people who don't particularly care for reality TV don't necessarily find Dollhouse compelling viewing. It's also possibly worth pointing out that plenty of reality shows fail to find an audience.
There have been some great programs on network tv over the years, but I'm afraid that the type of ratings game in place now is unlikely to support much that is really special into the future. It really does seem as though cable is the place to go, particularly for those who make quality drama or cutting edge comedy.

Movies are great, but we need Joss on tv every week. I would be very surprised if he couldn't interest HBO or Showtime or even Scifi (SyFy?, oy) in pretty much any project he might come up with. A huge budget is nice, but he didn't need much for Dr. Horrible...I'm sure he'd manage just fine with less.
Joss's greatest show IMO was Buffy, followed by Dr. Horrible. I think he is at his best when he starts from a place of sillyness, even if (or especially if) he then moves to a dark place. DH suffers I think from trying to start out dark and more realistic. It's just harder to accept in that context the whacky plot developments and lines of dialogue that he does so well. Combine that with the inherent difficulty of trying to sympathize with these characters and I guess I can't claim to be surprised by the ratings. I'm coming around to the realization that the show's flaws are conceptual, and thus maybe not likely to be worked out in a second season. Of course, I don't think matters were helped at all by Fox's influence, which resulted in the rewritten pilot, and the "standalone" quality of the first five episodes. But in the end, I'm not sure Joss could have made this show work even without Fox interference.

At this point, I just hope Joss doesn't get frustrated and give up on tv altogether, as that is where I think he's made his greatest contribution to date.
Far as I can recall, Dollhouse went from conception to TV screens in a REALLY quick timeframe. It's not like this story had been kicking about in Joss's head for years like Buffy was.

It wasn't a project he had given the same amount of time and thought like Firefly.

To me, Dollhouse is a concept that got him thinking, sparked his interest and then happened as quick as you like and I think that's why we see it play out differently. It's like we're watching the character development process in real time.

I don't think Joss was necessarily looking to go back into TV, he hadn't pitched anything that know of. This next project was the big screen and I think that's where he was going. I have to say, to me it's got to be easier to craft a movie than a TV series creatively speaking.

I don't know, I mean, I would love there to be Joss TV on a cable network but only if there's a story that Joss (and co for that matter) would want to tell.
What bubblecat said!
I used to be worried that if DH was canceled Joss would be heartbroken and never return to TV-land (mythical place, not cable channel). But interviews given recently imply otherwise, so I don't mind so much if it's canceled. I mean, I do, because I'm loving the show. But it won't be as dire a situation to me as it otherwise would've been.

Just as long as Joss keeps pumpin' out the art ;)
I've heard Joss say Dollhouse is his last TV thing. Which I think is wise, if sad. If people are too stupid to like Dollhouse, then none of Joss' shows will ever be watched, I think.

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-04-05 19:44 ]
Possibly Bubblecat, except that Fox said yes to the pitch of Dollhouse and then Joss went on strike for six months. I assume he thought about Dollhouse during that time, even if he didn't officially work on it or take notes. So I don't think he was rushed although it could be argued that Buffy came from an idea (the ,cute blonde who always got killed in horror films) while Dollhouse came from a "Eliza needs a show, what can I think of?" moment.

And these is a positive spin.
The very first comments were:
-Friday’s Winners:
Since not a single show cracked 9 million viewers or a 2 rating among adults 18-49, there were no “winners.”

-Friday’s Losers (excluding repeats):
Howie Do It (NBC), Wife Swap (ABC), Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Fox), Everybody Hates Chris (CW), The Game (CW), Friday Night Lights (NBC), Dollhouse (Fox), Dateline (NBC) -- that’s a lot of losers!


So it looks like everyone's figures suffered. If everyone else was getting high, and rising, audiences and Dollhouse was going down then that's bad. But here the tide is going out. All the boats are going to go down.
I was talking to my dad, who likes sports, and he said there were still basketball games on Friday. Could that have been it? I don't think there were any new movies or anything...
Please, liking Dollhouse is not a mark of intelligence. I really don't think the show is struggling because it's too clever for a general audience.

ETA There comes a point where you can't keep blaming external factors for a shows failure to gain an audience. There will always be movies opening and sports on one channel or another, if Dollhouse can only be expected to do well when nothing else is happening then it isn't going to survive.

[ edited by helcat on 2009-04-05 20:02 ]
I've heard Joss say Dollhouse is his last TV thing. Which I think is wise, if sad.

This isn't quite true. It seems to be a misquote, or at least a quote taken out of context (other people here may remember better than me), that started with this Rolling Stone interview. This TVGuide video interview clarifies a bit. It's not like he's said "never again!" He's just looking to the internet for several ideas he has, and reading between the lines network tv seems to put a show creator through a lot of strain. Especially a control... enthusiast.

If people are too stupid to like Dollhouse, then none of Joss' shows will ever be watched, I think.

I really wish I didn't see this kind of statement as often as I do here. What people do or don't like to watch on tv has nothing to do with how smart they are or aren't.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2009-04-05 20:03 ]
Well, if Terminator and Dollhouse both get cancelled, at least one good thing to come from that is we might finally get "The Serving Girl'.
That's the silver lining I've been looking at myself, flugufrelsarinn.
Well, Fast and Furious opened to a $30.5 million Friday, so that might have taken some viewers from Dollhouse (and TV in general), but regardless of that, I have to agree with helcat that you can't constantly blame external factors for the low ratings of Dollhouse. If people care for a show so little that every time something crosses its path with it, they ditch it a and watch the other thing, then what’s the point of keeping such show anyway? You could argue that on a different night and with better promotion, the show’s chances to succeed would be higher, but the situation is as it is. Dollhouse at least got more of a chance and better treatment from Fox than Firefly. They could have done way more, no doubt, but even under these conditions, the show could perform stronger. The fact that it doesn’t makes me sad, but blaming it every week on basketball, new movies, finale of other TV show etc. only makes Dollhouse look like a show that people just don’t care enough for.

[ edited by Anuris on 2009-04-05 21:45 ]
The Dollhouse UK deal was tiny, as it was lumped into Sci-Fi UK's Angel renewal. That was disclosed at the time. Reportedly 10% on top of the Angel renewal got them Dollhouse.

The reason Dollhouse is getting less viewers week to week is that less people are watching it.

Signed - the anti-santa.
Oh anti-santa, always stuffing our stockings with coal and cynicism ;). Or realism. I always get those two confused.

I'll be sorry to see Dollhouse get canceled for those that are loving it and because I really do wish success for everyone involved in the show, but I'm not worried about one of my favorite story-tellers disappearing. Not everything works, or is successful, and it's disappointing, but I'm sure we'll be getting lots more goodies in the future.

Also adding my wee voice to those put off by the whole "Joss Whedon's shows are just too smart for dumb television viewers" thing. I think his shows appeal to a niche audience, but not necessarily an uber-sophisticated audience, and as others have said, we watch different shows for different reasons. I hope to god my TV viewing isn't a reflection of my intelligence!
I don't love hearing people call others stupid, especially if it's because their television viewing preferences. It certainly doesn't contribute anything worthwhile to the discussion.
I just realised we've got only five episodes to go. That's sad. So far Dollhouse wasn't everything I had hoped for, but I would like to see it grow. Last few eps were all pretty good. Guess it is not supossed to be.

At least we'll have Cabin to look forward to. After that I really hope Joss isn't going to spent a lot of time on movies that never make it out of development hell again (he sounded pretty tired of that himself, so here's hoping not). So I would prefer to see Joss do something on the Internet again (am I the only one who thinks a long running dr. Horrible series would be better than Dollhouse?) or return to tv. (On television) I would especially like to see him try to make a sitcom.

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2009-04-05 22:22 ]
I don't like the whole too stupid for a show thing either. People just like different things and don't see the same things and all that stuff. *Shrugs*

I quite like Dollhouse and I would like to see it continue, even if it was always just a 13 ep seasons. That's not bad. XD Am I making sense here?

Anyways, it'll be damn sad to see it go but *sigh* that's what happens to a load of shows and at least we'll get to see all 13. that's something.

But bleh, I wish we got more. Who knows how things could develop. But maybe it's a good thing it's only 13? lol. I don't know.
This is a shame. Not surprising, though, because the show was not built for network TV. It actively subverts a lot of network TV-isms and forces the audience (and audience that usually wants someone to 'root' for) to, you know, observe and be compelled by some pretty awful people. Plus, it's lead character is anamporhic at best. There's no consistent image for the audience to latch onto. And, the characters that are latch onto-able are, as previously mentioned, awful. Shows have succeeded with 'awful', but compelling characters, I just don't see it happening on networks as much.

Dollhouse is a cable or premium TV idea forced into the packaging of a network show. Of course, ideally, Dollhouse was embracing its network status (and the budget the comes with it) in attempt to be satirical and subversive, but I just don't think the modern network TV viewing culture rewards that kind of show. It rewards stuff that exemplifiy the qualities Dollhouse attempts to critique.

[ edited by Dirk on 2009-04-05 22:36 ]
As much as I would like to disagree with Gossi, I can't. people aren't staying home to watch Dollhouse, or are preferring to watch something else. I' opting for the former, mostly because i like a little optimism in the morning, and because everyone else's numbers have suffered. What remains to be seen is if those horrible 3. something million numbers are going to be reflected in the DVR numbers. My early morning optimism begs me to believe the loss will be made up in the DVR numbers.
Of course intelligent people agree about what makes quality TV! They agree about everything else, don't they?
Ivalaine, people are taking it off their DVR's too, as evident by the DVR numbers week to week.

Which, by the way, is completely natural for a show. 'course, it's not ideal.

I do think Dollhouse has many of the trappings of a cable show. Not that it would work on cable either, due to budget issues. But in terms of the issues being discussed, occasionally the tone and often the visual style, you're looking at a FX or USA Network show on FOX. I'm not sure how that happened, and if gets picked back up - despite all my doom and gloom you'll notice I've never called the deathbed for Dollhouse - it will be interesting to see how a second series looks. I think execs like Kevin Reilly must have done their nut when they were looking at the earlier episodes in comparison to other things he's babied along ("Fringe" for example) because the difference is vast.

And as to if Dollhouse is too intelligent for FOX - please. They aren't making something incredibly complicated here. In fact, they're doing something they go to great lengths to explain to the audience. You can jump in at any episode bar "Echoes" and know exactly what's going on, I think. Which is a testament to Joss, by the way, because exactly the same applied with the first series of Buffy, Angel and Firefly.

The problem, for me, in a sentence is this: Let's watch a girl get abused to death. I'd rather not.
"Please, liking Dollhouse is not a mark of intelligence. I really don't think the show is struggling because it's too clever for a general audience."

Correct. What exactly is so clever about Dollhouse? The problem in my opinion is that there isn't really anything to put it above the majority of sci-fi/whatever shows out there already. I watch it every week as it is a Joss Whedon show. I would probably still watch it anyway if it wasn't, but in that case would have probably stopped watching by now as it really is quite standard fare and not what i would expect of a Whedon show. I keep hoping this will change, and will continue to watch to see if it does, but will honestly not be that bothered if it isn't renewed, something I never thought I would say about anything that Joss Whedon was involved with.
The problem, for me, in a sentence is this: Let's watch a girl get abused to death. I'd rather not.

Yes, hyperbole will help.
I'm serious, b!X. That's how the show makes me feel. There's only so much of Eliza flailing around half naked getting the shit kicked out of her I can take as entertainment. I don't kind it entertaining. If it wasn't a Joss show, I absolutely would not be watching.
I know that you're having that difficulty with the show. But the statement is still hyperbole. It's not like Joss airing a weekly hour of the phone camera footage of Du’a Khalil Aswad.

I don't have a problem with people being unable to deal with what the show is doing, despite being able myself to handle what it's doing until and unless where it ends up taking it falls apart for me.

I just don't think "watch a girl get abused to death" hyperbole helps anything.
I absolutely think it's something which needs discussing at some point, but probably not in a ratings thread. Joss got offended by the marketing of CAPTIVITY for it's sexy abuse imagery (with a film pretty much of the same vein), and DOLLHOUSE often both taps that advertising, and taps the premise too. The show, of course, often subverts expectations (Echo kills Richard in The Target, Mellie kills the Handler etc) - however often it does not. I do feel like I'm tuning in to watch a bunch of mostly girls getting their human rights taken away and then abused in a sexy fashion, and that's not my cup of tea both as a TV viewer and a human being.
And as to if Dollhouse is too intelligent for FOX - please. They aren't making something incredibly complicated here. In fact, they're doing something they go to great lengths to explain to the audience. You can jump in at any episode bar "Echoes" and know exactly what's going on, I think. Which is a testament to Joss, by the way, because exactly the same applied with the first series of Buffy, Angel and Firefly.

The problem, for me, in a sentence is this: Let's watch a girl get abused to death. I'd rather not.

I don't think anyone is saying folks don't watch Dollhouse because it's 'too intelligent', just that it's not exactly conventional. The bolded part of your post is more what I perceive as the disconnect between author/audience. Which has nothing to do with intelligence, it's more about expectations and desires on the part of the audience. I try to avoid consciously imposing any expectations on films/TV shows/books, because it's arbitrary, it's totally from me and irrelevant to the text. I have to let the text stand on its own merits and discern the authors intent.

I have some problems with Dollhouse, mostly the limpness (with a exceptions) of the weekly 'missions' (which could have been used to satirize a variety of TV/film cliche, but, you know, didn't) and the general awfulness of 'Stage Fright', but I think those failings are much more blatant.

That stuff probably had something to do with viewer disinterest, but it appears some viewers (consciously or unconsciously) rejected the premise (and by that I mean having to watch a show largely from the perspective of immoral/amoral characters, all of it) because of their own preconceived notions about what a TV show ought to be. Rather than letting Joss et al experiment with those notions.

gossi, out of curiosity, do you have any idea how much the production of Dollhouse cost in total?

[ edited by Dirk on 2009-04-05 23:49 ]
The DVR numbers are very flat. That seems to imply that those viewers are only watching on DVR and are unaffected by the trends of the live numbers. So while it boosts the overall numbers, we can't really depend on them picking up the slack when there's a down week. The problem is the show started off with a low viewer base and could only go down from there. Some of the bigger shows like American Idol can fluctuate a million viewers week to week and no one even notices. Lie To Me peaked around 13 million and bottomed around 8 million. Much larger range than Dollhouse but they had a larger sampling to work with. I doubt Lie To Me would be doing much better in Dollhouse's situation either.
The problem, for me, in a sentence is this: Let's watch a girl get abused to death. I'd rather not.

I agree, gossi, particularly if you now add Sierra's multiple rapes (in actuality, not just her "engagements" which is somehow supposed to be OK) and it is even worse in my view. Doesn't feel to me that this is being 'subverted' even when the woman 'gets back' at her abuser. Hell, even Farah Fawcett had a burning bed moment. I'd just not rather watch it unfold weekly, and the numbers suggest I am not alone.
Dirk, the set cost just shy of $1m according to the LA Times. The licensing cost per episode is reportedly between $1.5m-2m according to Variety. So that's around $20m production, or $21m in total, based on $1.5m per episode. FOX also, obviously, pay for advertising, both in print/billboards/etc and advertising air time. 20th incur some additional expense for producers etc as they hold the deals (Tim, Joss). If I was gonna guestimate the total cost to both network and studio, I'd say around $40m.
I understand gossi's problems with the show -- but I give Joss credit for attempting to handle a tough subject that's obviously close to his heart in an interesting and engaging way. There's basically an argument that goes that EVERYTHING in TV or movies is there for our delectation and is basically being glamorized, which is why, I guess, you should never, ever make a fun show about, say, murder. Murder is certainly a very serious issue, particularly when it happens to someone you love, but there it is presented for our light and heavy amusement in all sorts of media going back to the earliest tales known to man.

The other approach is to try to figure out ways to deal with serious issues in an entertainment medium, which is basically Joss's entire MO. If "Dollhouse" doesn't work because it's too inherently dark and depressing and doesn't quite deal with the issues it brings up, that wouldn't be the first time, but I still give him major props for even trying, even if it was doomed from the outset.
I watched the last two episodes of Dollhouse over the weekend. The moment where Sierra encounters Nolan, and we realize that he raped her, is responsible for her imprisonment in the Dollhouse, and continues to have sex with her as a Doll was pretty horrible. I know it was supposed to be, at least I hope so, but knowing she will be probably servicing Nolan again soon is beyond distasteful. It's horrifying and so far away from being sexy and yet the show is still being sold sexy. Yuck.

Additionally though, I think I am coming to realize that I never warmed up to Eliza Dushku. I thought it was the character of Faith and maybe that has something to do with it. Thinking back now, there are many episodes in the Third season of Buffy that are among my favorites, Lover's Walk, Doppelgangland, The Wish, but none of them revolve around Faith.
I would maintain the dolls are being abused, and I don't believe for a second that any will be allowed out alive, so yeah, I get that.

In general, I don't like the show. I don't think I'm stupid.

I found some hope during Man on the Street that I was warming to it, but now not so much.

I'm neither a Neilsen viewer nor an American, so as far as the ratings go whether I watch or not doesn't really matter anyway.

I would like to see some resolution to Ballard's story.
...and I don't believe for a second that any will be allowed out alive...

While Topher was talking with a loaded gun pointed at his head he explained that they put back their original personalities and memories, but not the specific memories that they wanted to get away from, when the Actives ended their contract. I think you'd have to assume thet there is a distinct possibility that he was telling the truth there.
Of course, he might believe they get to go free....
Of course, he might believe they get to go free....

Whatever he has to tell himself to get him through the day...
I do feel like I'm tuning in to watch a bunch of mostly girls getting their human rights taken away and then abused in a sexy fashion, and that's not my cup of tea both as a TV viewer and a human being.

gossi | April 05, 23:44 CET


I so agree. I have not liked the show from the beginning. Though I did like the episode "Man on the Street" partially because it brought forward some of the moral issues, watching abuse week after week is not my thing. The whole thing with Sierra and Nolan this past week pushes it to a more horrendous level yet...as though that was needed.

As far as the ratings, I wonder if they created the worst of both worlds. Let's have some truly mindlessly exploitative episodes at the beginning to turn off people who would usually be attracted to a Whedon show. Then we start the episodes that are much more like Whedon so the watchers who were in it for the mindless exploitation are turned off and stop watching.

Irony: I have often thought that Dollhouse reminded me of the worst of reality TV. Horrible people doing horrible things to people who do not seem to understand that they are being set up. Give me a competition show where talented people are competing for a chance to have their talents recognized any day. (Project Runway, not American Idol, I hate people being purposely humiliated.)
One spectrum of reactions I find most interesting ist the one between "That show is simply to horrible for my understanding of entertainment" and the one crying out loud because "Fox destroyed Joss' vision" and made him drop the "darker aspects" of the show. What would people actually say, if Joss had done his even darker version, say on cable?

It's so convenient to have Fox.
Except wiesengrund that some peoples' criticisms of the show have been that it has dark, horrible things in it but doesn't deal with them head on. I'm not so sure Joss's original vision would have a darker premise etc - but it would be ABOUT that premise more than the first five episodes were. (I really like the show, btw. I'm just trying to do justice to the position of people I vehemently disagree with)
I think Joss uses Ballard very well to put the "abuse" into perspective. Yes the dolls are abused, they are trafficked, used for horrible things. But Adelle, Topher, Claire, Boyd, they're all ok with it. Ballard is not. I'm sure we'll see some more of this coming through as the series continues on, with Ballard really ramming it through to the audience that just because they won't remember, doesn't mean it's ok.
Oh I sincerely hope not, the way the show leaves the questions open and refuses to entirely judge in black and white terms is maybe the aspect i've been enjoying the most, it's extremely refreshing to see that willingness to embrace the moral grey in a US network TV show. Ideally i'd like to see more of the damaging effects of Ballard's single-mindedness, maybe even have it be revealed to him that the situation is much less clear-cut than he believes it to be.

...but it would be ABOUT that premise more than the first five episodes were.

Hmm, the first 5 episodes seemed to be very premise related (as I understand the premise anyway) and it's hard to picture an episode that's more about the premise than 'Stage Fright', much as I didn't rate it in and of itself.

In that we had the idea of being complicit in and even benefiting from your own objectification, the idea of the male figure who's ostensibly the exploiter maybe also having altruistic motives (or at least not being straightforwardly evil), the idea that some women (like Jordan) feel they're able to choose their own course while some (like Rayna) feel helpless and the related question of whether either of them are 100% correct, the idea of Echo - possibly - showing through the imprint etc. Ironically one of my issues with ep 3 is that it's maybe a bit too "on the nose", a bit too explicit in how it addresses the themes of the show.

To me the "not dealing head on" is actually just "not deciding for the viewer who's right and who's wrong" and i've been enjoying that aspect of the show a lot. It's not dodging the issue IMO it's only acknowledging that it's complicated and that, much as it'd make it easier to understand and deal with, there just might not be clear-cut heroes and villains in every "exploiter"/"exploited" situation.
I totally agree with that, Saje, I tend to see the show more head on regarding the darker themes than anything I have seen on TV before, and that is the reason why the show makes me so unfcomfortable, and that is the reason why I am insanely in love with it.

And yes, Let Down, of course there have been other criticisms. That's why I said "One spectrum of reactions", not "The spectrum of reactions".

And yes, my remark was basically pointless. :)

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