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April 20 2009

(SPOILER) Joss on Dollhouse's renewal chances, that missing episode and more. A long interview with Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune that covers Dollhouse, Dr. Horrible, This American Life, the thirteenth episode, the chance of a second season, Cabin in the Woods, and other assorted things. Vague spoilers about upcoming episodes, and don't scroll all the way to the bottom if you don't want to see plot summaries.

"I assumed it was dead in the water because the network was refusing to air the thirteenth [episode]," Whedon said. "Not refusing, but just not interested. I assumed that meant the bell tolled for us. And they made a point of calling and saying, 'That is not what it means, and we'll keep you posted.'"

Key bit about Dr. Horrible: Ideally, they'd like to target Spring 2010 for filming whatever the next thing is.
Awesome stuff, love the interview. I particularly like how they rephrased Joss saying what was obviously 'side boob'.
Great interview, thanks for posting.
Great stuff in there. Interesting comment about the Rolling Stone article.
Was just thinking with all the beyond Nielson stuff:

I'm not a Nielson household so they have no way of knowing if I'm watching. Should I be watching on Hulu instead, where it can ostensibly be tracked? Assuming, of course, that I'm not watching both (which I wouldn't do).
While we have no idea how they weight things like Hulu (or, watching on Hulu is better than not watching on Hulu (or

[ edited by narky on 2009-04-21 07:42 ]
Unless I misread it, I don't think the Dollhouse itself was ever supposed to be good, just that it was going to be a seedy way of funding a noble company - which is an interesting idea, and probably more interesting than another "evil mega corporation," which is cliche at this point.
Oh wow, no, I misread it. Nevermind.
Yeah, I agree with Bonzob. I don't think the original idea was to have the Dollhouse itself as a good thing and all the characters in it good guys; rather it was to make it just as dark and morally deficient but have it making money for a company that does good. Personally, I love the dark moral ambiguity in the Dollhouse and it's really refreshing to have a Joss Whedon show which doesn't have that found family. I do wish, though, that he'd been able to keep his original idea of the parent company doing good work. That's a fascinating moral dilemma. FOX's idea of a hidden dark purpose is certainlyfun but I suspect ultimatley less satisfying. It's quite similar to the contrast between the Alliance in Firefly who were interesting in their ambiguity of their evil - if you would even call it that - and Nishka (spelling?) who was created because FOX asked for a larger than life villain. Still, I'm happy to wait and see where this idea of the Dollhouses's secret purpose takes us - it could be great
I'm not fully convinced that Joss didn't decide to go ahead with the idea of the Dollhouse funding a "good" corporation. How much do we really know about Rossum? They could be curing cancer for all we know at this point.

I definitely think that a "good" company doing not so good things as a means to an end, is infinitely more interesting than "we do evil things because we are evil! Mua-ha-ha-ha."

This show is all about the gray, so why have something black?
Well I thought it would turn out that Rossum was doing good things - pretty much until Joss basically said otherwise. It could be a giant mislead ('Miracle Laurie is now playing Paul's nextdoor neighbour') but given how he's said FOX specifically asked for this changed (and in a previous interview named the person who asked for this change) it seems unlikely
I loved the fact that Mo kept pushing the cable questions, just as I understood that someone hoping for a second season pick-up is going to be thinking about that at this point, never mind discussing it publicly. But it has always been a question for me if he would do it, given the chance.

I think he's also being very fair about Fox. The way I see it, Fox is a network with a certain image, and certain expectations. And that puts constraints on what you can do. And it creates a dialogue that you need to have to work with them. I think part of what Joss is saying is that constraints can be good, and feedback can be good. So the fact that some of the earlier episodes were weak wasn't because "Fox are evil", but was more about a process that didn't gell well, and part of that was that Joss' idea of what he was doing wasn't as clear and fixed as with Firefly.

I know there are creators whose self-published work I think is indulgent and unpolished in contrast to their other work. I think for some artists, some constraints really are helpful. I don't feel that way about Dr Horrible, or Joss' comic work, which I suspect had less "notes" than his network shows. But nobody creates in a vacuum, and those things were produced with the input and feedback of lots of other talented people. I don't think that working for a major network is the only way to get those constraints, and I have a strong interest in thinking about new, internet-facilitated, ways to create.

I'd love to see what Joss would create on a cable network with different expectations. I'd also love to see what Joss could produce in something directly fan-funded (with NO fan control, could you imagine if we got to vote? He'd never kill anyone off again! Nobody would ever put a shirt on again!). Coming from a country with strong public television, I'd love to see Joss produce something publicly funded.

Right now though, I just want more Dollhouse.
I think Joss will still be able to explore the idea of people doing bad things for noble reasons, through the characters who think that what they're doing is for a good purpose... ie: Adelle won't know that the parent company isn't actually doing all the good things she thinks they are... we'll still get to deal with the moral ideas and personal motivations.
Great interview. Also, here! here! to Sojourner's comments.
I just love the line "I got to fly under the radar for eight years, on networks so magical that they no longer exist." I guess they weren't screaming indicators of quality but the netlets did provide an outlet for quasi-mainstream efforts.

Also I'm slightly disappointed we don't get a bit more of this slightly intriguing side conversation between Whedon and Dan Savage.
Fox said, "Do the standalone episodes so that people can understand it so that people can get into the mythology," which I get. But because the process got a little twisted, some of the standalone episodes didn't end up being as textured as I thought they could be. I had to call [frequent Whedon collaborator] Tim Minear and say, "Tim, I didn't hate 'True Believer.' [Comments about that have] been taken out of context." There were things that I was going for that I didn't always achieve. Like 'Stage Fright' and other episodes, which are diverting, but

So, this is new, right? Or have we seen the actual Harvard Q&A session this seems to be referring to yet? Anyway, it seems the sounds of Joss hating the first five episodes - and maybe even being embarassed by them - were slightly over-the-top, although it would appear they do have a basis in that he doesn't seem overly proud of 'em. Glad to get a little more clarity on that. And sorry to see that Joss actually had to go and call Tim to explain he didn't hate 'True Believer'. Guess those Harvard Q&A reports did more bad than good.

On the whole, this is a very good interview. It's fun to have the cable thing adressed, to have the above adressed, to have him talk more extensively about the relationship between him and Fox, etcetera. It seems someone really did their research and asked a lot of relevant questions. Enjoyed that a lot.
Seems like he's almost taking it as a given that we'll get a second season when he remarks that it will be strange if episode 13 does not air. Or is that just me thinking wishfully?
edit: whoups sorry, posted to the wrond thread... way to many open windows...

[ edited by Creat on 2009-04-21 16:16 ]
When Joss spoke about future projects, he didn't mention the Comic books. I wish we'd get some sort of update on whether there is ever going to be a "Shepherd's Tale" Trilogy. To paraphrase the Bedlam Bards, "We want our Trilogy of Trilogies!". :D
Why is Joss saying things like (paraphrase) 'I hope the 13th episode willg et shown on Tv, otherwise very few people will see it before any possible second season,' and the like?

I know he dislikes webisodes, but this is the guy who made Dr. H. an internet phenomenon. Why isn't he (and Fox) thinking aobut alternate distribution methods for Ep. 14, like putting it online?
His argument is that since a Season Two would be weird without seeing episode 13 of Season One, then especially if there's a Season Two the episode needs to air, not be available only in some form that only a portion of the audience will see.

He doesn't want people to have to go out of their way (let alone pay money) in order to see an episode that in this interview he pretty firmly states won't just be jettisoned from being canon. Basically: A canon episode of a television series should be available on television.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-04-21 17:41 ]
With "Dollhouse," I feel like there is closure. It's the kind of closure that, as with any good series, asks more questions than it answers, but I also felt like, we got to say a lot of what we came here to say. I'll never [adopts a quavering voice] let myself be hurt again, like "Firefly."

I sort of think if they renew it, they'll air Episode 13 at some point. Maybe not all that soon after 12. Just because if there is dealmaking going on, it seems like it'd have to be on the table. They've already made it, and they made it for cheap.
One of the deepest, most insightful interviews with Joss Whedon I've read recently. It brings up a lot of burning questions I've had myself, about the process with the network in creating Dollhouse (and how their notes both helped and hindered things). About Joss going cable (although I still don't think, after the question being asked multiple times, it got really answered. But I'm sure it's something that is on Joss's radar once he figures out his next project, he just can't announce anything at this point.)

Mo did some amazingly insightful interviews with the writers of Battlestar Galactica, and it's great to see her interview Joss Whedon with the same level of knowledge and insight and really ask the questions the fans want to know about but rarely get the opportunity to pose to the man himself.

I'm really hoping for a Dollhouse season 2 now. And also, once again, depressed that Firefly didn't even get that closure-lite of a season finale (being cancelled mid-stream as it was.) Serenity helps, but it still doesn't feel like a mini-arc leading to a finale in a Joss show, it's too abridged and well... movie-like.

If Dollhouse ends, I hope that Joss's return to the television medium doesn't turn out to be a brief stint, and that Mutant Enemy continues to pitch and develop new shows (possibly ... on cable??)
Hey, I'm trying to add my comment to the blog (so Mo can read it) but I get "We're sorry, we cannot accept this data" when I click post there. Anyone know what that means?
I'm a bit confused - Joss is saying that he already filmed the This American Life segment - I thought it was going to be live this Thursday?
I think it's filmed live but not broadcast live. Their website hasn't been on that clear on several points, that one among them.
Correct. It was this past Sunday and you can see him at the piano thanks to someone who was there.
Oh wow. I totally believe him that that was kind of terrifying.

Also, I'll just go ahead and admit that the idea of Joss Whedon, Ira Glass, and Dan Savage in the same place at the same time filming a movie/radio/stage show is like all my massively nerdy interests thrown in a blender set to happy puree.

All it lacks is Chris Thile playing some masterfully spastic mandolin between acts.
"Mommy, put it on the fridge. We made it!"

Yeah!! *stamps foot*
I believe that if they renew it the 13th episode will air, at least as an special introdution to the new season.
And Yeay for the it's going to air [in foreign markets] !
This was a great interview. Mo does some awesome work.

Spring 2010, eh? *squeehappydance*

Anyone watching "This American Life" tomorrow?

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