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May 02 2009

Ratings for episode 11 of Dollhouse. Click for your weekly dose of doom and depression.

The overnights tracker:

Episode 01 - 4.8 million, 2.0 in 18-49 demo.
Episode 02 - 4.3 million, 1.7 in 18-49 demo. 5% share.
Episode 03 - 4.2 million, 1.6 in 18-49 demo. 5% share.
Episode 04 - 3.5 million, 1.5 in 18-49 demo, 5% share.
Episode 05 - 4.3 million, 1.6 in 18-49 demo, 5% share.
Episode 06 - 4.1 million, 1.5 in 18-49 demo, 5% share.
Episode 07 - 3.9 million, 1.3 in 18-49 demo, 4% share. (In the finals it was 1.4 in 18-49 demo).
Episode 08 - 3.5 million, 1.4 in 18-49 demo, 5% share.
Episode 09 - 3.6 million, 1.4 in 18-49 demo, 4% share.
Episode 10 - 3.0 million, 1.2 in 18-49 demo, 4% share.
Episode 11 - 3.1 million, 1.1 in 18-49 demo, 4% share.

And bugger.
Audience shrank from lead-in for the second week... I just can't see how this will get renewed unless there's some back to alpha-stage, no pun intended, work done in revising the show's tone and premise. Like "Star Trek: The Next Generation" between Season 1, Season 2, and again in Season 3 basically reinvented itself each year until it worked. I'm sure there's other examples.
It's so sad that 9.7 million people watch Ghost Whisperer. I mean WTF?!
"Haunted" was not 1.3 in the finals. It stayed at 1.2. But "Needs" went up to 1.5 in the finals. (Why are we even tracking the overnights, when there are finals for every ep up until 10?)
Maybe there's another way to look at it, and ask what is it about "Ghost Whisperer" (I've seen it twice, and have no idea personally what it is) resonates with a big enough and sustained enough audience that "Dollhouse" doesn't have? It's not eye candy -- I'd say "Dollhouse" probably has more and at least equally appealing eye candy for all parties than "Ghost Whisperer". So what are they doing right?
That hurts.
'cos comparing the overnights to finals isn't fair.
Ghost Whisperer is much easier to follow, has a more standalone structure (I think, have just seen a few eps in the first season to be honest) and Jennifer Love Hewitt may just be a bigger star then Eliza.
Flashpoint and Supernanny are really what causes Dollhouse to lose viewers, it appears. I do think Dollhouse is, perhaps, a program which is too challenging for broadcast audiences. Not in terms of intelligence, but in terms of thematical elements and characterisation. As somebody said in the other topic, during the Boyd/Paul smackdown last night, who were we supposed to be supporting? I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but I do think it makes it more challenging for an audience member. They could just watch Supernanny.
Why is it not fair? It's just that the one's are cleaned up for calculating errors and the others aren't. The finals are the true ratings an ep got that night, while the overnights are an approximation. Why should it be more correct to compare two wrong approximations than to compare one of them to a correct number? For me the finals are overwriting the overnights. They are not a "new" number or category to compare episodes, they are the actual ratings of that episode.
Am i blind, according to the numbers listed above did it not do better than last week?? (and considering last weeks episode was the weakest(except for possibly "Stage fright" quality wise, we couldn't really expect any miracles.)
If anybody wants to collate the finals, go for it.
Lest it turn into a battle of euphemisms -- one person's challenge is another person's incoherency -- I do struggle to think of a show that's enjoyed any lasting success that avoided giving the audience anyone to really get behind as well as "Dollhouse" has. That can't be an accident.
Hey, I'm behind Alpha. I'm like that.
If anybody wants to collate the finals, go for it.

Link :)
Let's face it, the general TV audience does not like to use their brains when watching television. No wonder all the reality shows get the majority of the viewers. Anything that requires audience participation is treading dangerous territory, and as gossi said, Dollhouse is challenging to watch. There are many gray areas. Sadly, what makes the show so great is what scares off so many people.
That is still windmill tilting, to accuse audiences of refusing to be challenged, and "Lost" is the proof. Audiences are still dialed in to "Lost" intensely, it certainly demands a lot of the audience.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2009-05-02 17:34 ]
Damn. Well, I'm a Nielsen diary household this week, so maybe I can help out the finals a bit...

*watches it again on DVR*
I know that the show is as good as cancelled with these numbers, but yet I refuse to give up hope for a second season. Oh well. I will be very depressed in two weeks, once they eventually announce that the show will be gone. A second season really would be a miracle with these kind of numbers.
"Lost" is a brilliant counter argument. It's easily the most serialised TV show on broadcast I'd say. And yet it keeps it 10% of the 18-49 audience in it's slot, winning the night for drama.

The truth is, I don't think anybody fully understands what makes a TV show connect with an audience. I think BTVS, Angel and Firefly had something called 'family' and 'love' running through them, whereas Dollhouse is more about alienation and hate. It's more angry, which does make it a harder sell overall.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-05-02 17:37 ]
So why does it work and "Dollhouse" doesn't?

Poor timeslot, a lacklustre start, a concept that can't really be explained by one sentence and some damning internet buzz when the show was in production.

For a while it seemed like the ratings and what was going on behind the scenes was proving to be more interesting than the show itself. Perhaps the fandom should share some of the blame for focussing on that and not talking up the show but its still a bit early for a post-mortem.

But at the end of the day, Dollhouse has made myself and other fans excited to watch tv again. And that is something that Joss and co should be rightly proud of.
Also it's not a shippy show. Love triangles seem to draw and keep a lot viewers.
What Simon said.
Lost gets only a third of the viewers it once got.
Yes, but it keeps them week to week now. It's insanely profitable for the network/studio. If Dollhouse had launched to 15 million viewers and kept 5 million of them every week and a 2.0 in the demo, we wouldn't be having this thread.
Sunfire said:

Also it's not a shippy show. Love triangles seem to draw and keep a lot viewers.

Okay, should I start shipping Topher's juice boxes and Adelle's teas? Or does that break the shipping rules? Are there tariffs?
I was going to post to say much the same as Simon just said, only he said it much better than I. I would only add that there is nothing by way of promotion that would indicate to those viewers who stopped watching that the episodes have gotten better, unless said viewers pay attention to the particular reviews we've had links to in the last three or four weeks. The lackluster start went on too long. Those who were willing to give the show three viewings, say, were not rewarded. Had I not been a Joss fan to begin with, I would not have come back after Stage Fright.
Lost is very shippy. Lost gave us a variety of characters to choose to "get behind." But beyond this, Lost also seems to have some noteriety for NOT selling itself right out of the gate as a heavy serialized fi-sci show. I mostly recall there being a lot of buzz about the guy from party of five starring, the same show that gave J. Love Hewitt the skills to make sure glop like Ghost Whisperer never drops below its weekly allowance of sacharine.
If Dollhouse had launched to 15 million viewers and kept 5 million of them every week and a 2.0 in the demo, we wouldn't be having this thread.

Because it would have been cancelled already?
Poor timeslot, a lacklustre start, a concept that can't really be explained by one sentence and some damning internet buzz when the show was in production.

See, these arguments never do anything for me, because they've so often been overcome. Want to talk damning production buzz, how about "Titanic"? That movie was a punchline for months before it's release, huge budget, too long, etc. Everybody knows what happened after. Point being, I think that people will go get the goods if the goods are there. And while "Dollhouse" has the goods, it seems to have the goods only for a niche audience and/or people that already liked Joss.

One thing I think "Lost" had that worked was that it actually took a huge chunk of the zeitgeist's reality TV buzz and turned it on its head -- "Survivor" and "Big Brother" and such things. Challenge driven reality shows, if you will. Might "Dollhouse" be doing better if it had figured out a way to provide a much less subtle commentary on image driven reality, makeover shows, marriage shows, etc?

I definitely agree that "Dollhouse" could use more that's 'shippy. I can think of only one 'shippy dynamic that actually has resonated -- "Victor"/Priya, and the confirmation in "Needs" that it's not just programming. I think the premise of "Dollhouse" makes it hard to do a lot of 'shippy, though.
crazygolfa: It's all about the Bopher.
Sunfure: Sorry, you are so very wrong. The OTL of Topher is his starches. There are a match made in whatever they are made in.
My problem is that half the things people point to about the show that apparently "should" be changed to make it more commercially successful are the very things that I like most about the show.
The thing is that Dollhouse is challenging in a different way than Lost is challenging. Lost is intellectually challenging (WTF is with the island, the monster, time travel, etc. etc.) and interpersonally engaging (shipping, fun characters etc.). Dollhouse is morally challenging as well as intellectually challenging (you don't know whom to root for, who is good or bad - or they are all somewhat bad, etc.). That is to say, where Lost is a puzzle, Dollhouse is a critique. That's hard to sell people on.
Fox has almost completely stopped promoting the show. That's exactly what they did with Firefly.
well, Lost has a similar moral challenge -- for example, how ultimately grey will Ben be, since some of his acts clearly stem from a true belief that he is doing something important in protecting the island -- though, of course that moral gray scale is not as directly connected to specific ooky "real life" issues like rape/trafficking/etc that are hard to keep at an analytical distance while enjoying your teevee show.
Septimus, I'd say "Lost" is morally challenging, otherwise I wouldn't want to pummel so many people for sympathizing with the Others. But you're right about the critique angle, and that's actually part of the problem -- because you run the risk of the audience deciding that the critique itself is... wrong. That the conclusions are incorrect. I'm not sure I can think of a more absolute way for a show to disengage an audience.
I think hoards of folks tune into shows such as Gost Whisperer because the good guys are always good guys and pretty much always win.

In the world we live in, too little time, too little money, less and less kind and caring people surrounding you that have been replaced by more and more evil ALL around you, it might be more uplifting to pretend for a while that it's possible to go back to simpler and "better" days. Where the good guys who struggle to do what's right are rewarded with happiness. Where the main characters want to do what's right because it's right.

Dollhouse is a show with very REAL methaphors for the corruption that surrounds most people everyday. Could be that after trudging through real life all week, another hour of corruption on Friday night is simply too much to take.

It becomes a fight between;

Young innocent girl takes on the evil of the world and wins but not before giving someone a new fresh look on life, thus increasing happiness to be had by very grateful stranger, tenfold.


The young very sexy girl who pretty much is held a captive to her "job" as she never gets to leave is used and used and used. The big evil corportation has brain washed her into giving more and more until there is nothing left. All identity is gone, she is simply now a slave to the success of the organization. She will be exploited, abused and betrayed. She will be helpless to stop the cycle.

While typing this, I realize that I would prefer to watch #1 most of the time. It's also interesting that we could insert "Buffy" instead of "Ghost Whisperer" into the first definition.

Having said that, there is a world of difference between a non Joss Whedon # 1 choice "Ghost Whisperer" and a Joss Whedon # 1, "Buffy". Whether it's good or evil, Joss does it best. In this case the outcome remains the same. More people apparently crave the postive and "Good" outcome on Friday night.
Just to be clear I don't watch the really shippy shows, and I find them annoying. I think shows like Dollhouse will never attract as many viewers as some other shows as long as it's not mixing intrigue with the will-they-or-won't-they teasing kind of love triangle plot elements. But that's also why I really like Dollhouse, it's busy doing other, much more interesting things. So when I say it's probably a weakness in turns of ratings, I don't mean that's a weakness for me. I'm a big fan of a more substantial romantic storyline or of subtext that's clever but I see the ZOOMG will they or won't they? Tune in to find out!!! stuff as a blight on tv drama. It works numerically but it really sucks narratively.
I think Lost got viewers to watch without them realising it was a genre show. On the surface it had a high concept hook, plane crashes, survivors trapped on desert island, and by the time viewers realised they were watching a scifi show with time travel it was too late, they were hooked.

With Dollhouse, just trying to explain the concept to people made their eyes glaze over after ten seconds and they were already wondering about what was on the other channel.

Lost: Plane crash survivors trapped on island.
Ghost Whisperer: Girl sees dead people.
House: Cranky doctor cures people.
Dollhouse: Er, it's about these people who aren't people, they have their mind removed and these other people pay the people who own these people to put the minds of other, made up, people into hey! Where you going? I haven't finished yet!

Maybe, with the fantastic superpower of hindsight, it might have been better to sell and promote the show as nothing more than an Alias rip off. Eliza Dushku plays secret agent each week.
Then people notice some things don't make sense, some odd comments, she forgets some things, then episode two or three introduce the chair and the imprints and bang! We're in new ground!
No, I was saying if the show launched to 15 million and held on at 5 and kept it's core demo good, we wouldn't be worrying about ratings. They wouldn't cancel it. What you want with serial drama is a loyal following who make it profitable week to week.

From a commercial point of view, they should have launched it better (with AI, maybe), they should have put it in Fringe's slot whilst it was off air, they shouldn't have stopped for that Prison Break repeat. From a creative point of view, the earlier episodes could have been better. But I wouldn't change a thing about the actual aspects of the show. The fact it's a show (to me) about being alienated, alone and a bit hateful is what makes it compelling.
Dollhouse: Er, it's about these people who aren't people, they have their mind removed and these other people pay the people who own these people to put the minds of other, made up, people into hey! Where you going? I haven't finished yet!

I think a lot of Joss fans look at that and say it's not a bug, it's a feature. But, well, that still doesn't get people to watch her weren't already doing it for loyalty. And it's a longshot to *keep* someone watching. It's puzzling because Joss himself blamed the poor commercial performance of "Serenity" on it lacking a sale-able premise. "What have you learned, Dorothy (I love "Volunteers")?"

Gossi, I'm not sure the 15 million launch would have helped -- strike or no strike, "Terminator" had 18 million watch the first episode.
KingofCretins, Septimus - I'd agree too, that the critique angle is part of the problem here. As for Lost (Ben, Others) vs. Dollhouse (The Dollhouse) in terms of morally challenging TV, the difference is, I think, that in Dollhouse, you have no real choice.

As Septimus said, there's no-one to turn to, if you can't relate or be interested in the morally problematic characters that are abundant in the show. Paul isn't a Jack or Sawyer. No matter how unlikeable I find the character of Jack to be, I know I'm in the minority. He's relatively clear cut. It's really hard, however, to root for someone like Paul Ballard.

Similarly, while I can root for Ben turning out to be more gray than most people want to believe, and while there seems to be a lot of people thinking the same way as I do, alas... Most people do believe he's entirely black -- and the show even seems to want to paint him more so with each season.

However, like b!X, the problem for me is that this lack of "moral anchor" is a big part of what I like about Dollhouse.

ETA: And I actually think your premise might have worked very well, zz9. Brilliant =o)

[ edited by Kaneda on 2009-05-02 18:29 ]
KoC, you will also notice that TSCC got a second season and it's ratings did not drop off a cliff until it was moved to Fridays. You made gossi's point for him.
TSCC went from 18 to 10 to 8 to 5 to 3. It wasn't going to survive on Mondays either with those numbers. My point was that Dollhouse's drop off actually isn't that bad if it weren't for the already low starting point. Now Heroes dropped off a still gets an okay demo but is a complete disappointment.
"Terminator" was moved to Fridays in part because it's ratings had gone off a... well, one doesn't want to say cliff, but let's say a very steep hill. Nor do I remember it being a sure thing that it was going to get the second season.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2009-05-02 18:43 ]
l was thinking if fox execs drop it maybe sci-fi might pick it up
Indeed, Terminator performed very badly. It doesn't surprise me it ended up on Friday - I'd have put it there.

I haven't a clue if Dollhouse will return or not. Personally I would bring it back if I could slash the cost a little. Move it to another night, pair it after Fringe. Maybe do a 13 episode mid-season again. If it moved off Friday and had a better lead in and it would get much better ratings. Then the show needs to be slightly broader. Get a character in there you can invest in.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-05-02 18:47 ]
Failing a pickup from Fox, is there any chance Dollhouse could be bought by another network, like Sci-Fi? (um.. SyFy) Fox-the-studio being a separate entity to Fox-the-broadcaster and all, I don't know if this could happen or not. With the set already in place, they might be able to work with a smaller budget, and another network might see those kinds of viewing figures in a whole different way (they're higher than BSGs were in its prime, if I remember rightly).
It is hugely disappointing that Dollhouse can't hold on to the Prison Break viewers....
I guess I'll just go kill myself now. *sigh*
Well, Prison Break is probably a different audience to Dollhouse. It's an odd pairing.

MattK, the chance of Dollhouse being sold to a different cable network is so small it's minus figures. I'm still wondering if FOX will keep it around anyway. It's possible.
Of course TSCC's second season wasn't a sure thing. Only 30% of first year shows get a second season. It performed ok in the horribly competitive 8pm Monday night slot last fall. It's 18-34 ratings and numbers with men were even considered good. It out performed it's leadout on a regular basis. The numbers were good enough in the fall for Fox to pick up the back nine that was in addition to the original 13 ep order. Yes, the numbers were declining and that precipitated the move to Friday nights, but where else was Fox going to put it on their crazy crowded spring sched?

I know that TSCC is almost certainly canceled but I will miss it. Dollhouse needs a shot at a better night with a decent/compatible lead in.

embers, I have a hard time believing that the audiences for Prison Break and Dollhouse are not completing different subsets of viewers. No one who watches Prison Break watches Dollhouse and vice versa.

MattK, I would put the odds of any other network picking up Dollhouse as one in a ridiculously large number. I don't think Dollhouse is ridiculously expensive but it is far too expensive for cable (as almost any network show is). BSG was a co-production with a UK network and Syfy did not have to foot the bill by themselves.

[ edited by TamaraC on 2009-05-02 19:06 ]
It's so sad that 9.7 million people watch Ghost Whisperer. I mean WTF?!

I no! i really don't get that. Every week Dollhouse has something new and a more intense storyline that you can't help but stay glued to teh screen adn Ghost Whisperer has near enough the same storyline every week and people love that more?!
Really hope this show gets a second season so it has a chance to really shine. Please Fox give it a second chance and show it on a different day!
Ugh. This is more unpleasant than seeing my San Jose Sharks get eliminated from the Stanley Cup way too soon.
So, next week's show will be aptly named, although a Time magazine writer's sugesting that we gat a Dollhouse mini-series next year to wrap up what loose ends we'll be left with may be our only hope.
I'm still watching Dollhouse, but I'm not really into it like I was the other Joss Whedon shows.

As mentioned, Lost developed its characters really well in the first season. When the Sci-Fi stuff kicked in heavily, the show already had interesting characters to play around with. The reason I got into the show was because of the characters. I thought the first John Locke centered episode had a really touching ending. I didn't expect it and it ended up moving me more than TV shows usually do. That was my hook.

I don't think Dollhouse has engaging characters. Anyone can die and I won't care. The only characters I have any interest in are Boyd and Victor. I think it's easy to root for Boyd for the obvious reasons and I think Victor's actor does a convincing job portraying multiple people to the point where he makes things more interesting for me. A character like Paul seems completely like a rouge cop cliche and I didn't think he was believable from the start so he ends up being a character I root against even though he's on the side that's easiest to root for.

A show like The Wire had a lot of disgusting morally misguided people that were still easy to root for because they had human qualities. Dollhouse touched upon the idea that people like Topher and DeWitt were lonely, but it didn't do a thing to make me care for them. I think it was a great idea to focus on morally challenged people, but I don't think it was executed that well. The story is fine, I just think the show lacks touching moments that makes me excited for the show to come on. I just watch it. I'm interested to see what happens, I just don't care. If it wasn't a Whedon show, I would have gave up on it.

It still would be nice to let the show stretch its legs a little longer before canning it.
Let's hope Joss has time to continue the story in form of a Comic Series.
Hey Stunn, I completely disagree with you. I don't really understand why people who don't like the show, only seem to like boyd... He may care about Echo, but he has been complicit in all of the bad stuff that the dollhouse has been doing, just like all of the other employees of the dollhouse..

Boyd seems like more of a cut out character than Ballard to me. For me He seems basically to be the Giles of the show, so I haven't warmed to him yet. Maybe when they flesh out his backstory a bit more I'll like him more.

[ edited by mortimer on 2009-05-02 19:23 ]
I don't see why Fox can't just bring back another limited 12 or 13 episode series. I'm happy to have 12 excellent episodes. DH can't carry the audience to make a 22-episode run financially viable. However, they know what kind of numbers they could expect for a limited run. The die-hards aren't going away. The studio knows the DVDs will sell. So just use the network for Season 1 DVD promo, hope to pick up viewers, and make everyone happy with another 12 kick-ass episodes. Look what happened when the network stopped interfering. Suddenly the episodes went from blah to awesome. Another limited run, everyone makes a little money and everyone's happy. A solid plan for today's financial market.
Look what happened when the network stopped interfering.

The audience stopped watching? *snerk*. (But also, true).

The thing with Dollhouse is - I believe - there's a show there somewhere. How to balance the serial nature to the broadcast nature, I don't know. I'm glad they stopped undressing Eliza and concentrated on story, though.
April November, what you propose may happen. Fox hasn't canceled the show.
Well DirecTV picked up the low rated Friday Night Lights series and shares it with NBC, heck even with low network ratings it has already gotten a 2 additional season order. That may be an option for Dollhouse perhaps pairing up with another network or video service. Doing the 12-15 episode arc thing instead of the full 20+ season one.

However, I think that Dollhouse may have suffered from what shows like "Dirty Sexy Money" also got pounded by the portrayal of the uber rich in the current economy. Last Season DSM was a hot property and got a quick full season pickup, but when it came back this season it tank faster than the housing market. It went from 20+ episodes to 13 of which maybe half made it to air on ABC. The show was about Billionaire family and it's extravagant lifestyle. When Dollhouse started it was about wealthy people who could afford to do with what they want with human beings they purchased, or used as government drones, that may have been a mistake. About a decade ago there was a show called The Pretender, although not the same premises as the Dollhouse, was about a guy who changed identities every week and was being chased by n out to bring him back. The concept worked because every week he helped someone who really needed to be helped (in his to case to make up for the bad things he had not know he had been doing). I think had they sprinkled that aspect earlier on in the series they would have gotten a better general fan base who would ride it out. Even House does good, there has to be an emotional payoff that is uplifting or light on occasion in the beginning. I am not saying rich men and play things are a bad thing but if that is how you portray it including their contempt for the dolls it will backfire on you. I bet if you re-ordered the episodes and replayed them for non-hardcore viewers you would see a change in viewer ship. People are intelligent enough to watch and understand it but in the end if it doesnít give them a positive message early on at least once or twice there interest will drop and they will not come back.

I donít know whose plan it was to put so many rich play thing, rich contemptible thing, or government drone episodes first but I think that may be shot themselves in the foot because of it. I think it certainly has potential but it needs to be more on test missions, what can or will a doll do, than pay-per-ones that can be a side for the episodes not always the main plot point.

My 2 cent, now worth a 1/2 cent if lucky.
mortimer, even though Boyd works for the Dollhouse, I think he just has more interesting characteristics than the other employees. He just hasn't done anything I didn't like plus Harry Lennix is just one of those people who can hold my attention. He's soft spoken.

Boyd seems like more of a cut out character than Ballard to me. For me He seems basically to be the Giles of the show, so I haven't warmed to him yet. Maybe when they flesh out his backstory a bit more I'll like him more.

My problem with Ballard was that I never thought he was believable. I understand his purpose in the show. My problem just stems from the early episodes because I didn't think it made sense that a FBI agent was on a case that nobody believed in when he probably had some real assignments to do. I know it's something that should be easy to overlook, but it was just a thing that bothered me to a point where I became detached from the show whenever Ballard was on during the first few episodes. It's just my problem which is something I'm pretty sure most other people wouldn't care about.
Indeed. Another 13 episode run with Remote Free TV ad sales on a different night seems like a profitable venture to me. I'd do it.
Gossi: from your mouth (er, fingers?) to Fox's ears! Okay, it's not a perfect metaphor.
I think "Joss Whedon shows" suffer through the same thing Star Trek has for many years. You could always count on the Trekkies to show up but it never was able to pull in people outside that orbit. I think Joss' core audience is good for anything between 3-4 million but his shows are going to need something else to go beyond that. They put Lie to Me and the Osbournes behind Idol, and so I don't know why they couldn't put Dollhouse behind Idol. Having said that I think maybe the decline would have been the same. There is a stellar 2 hour premiere that I think could have been made from the best parts of the first 6 episodes. Personally I would have shown the character's lives pre-Doll. Those are the people we could root for and hope through all this they could find their happy ending. But yeah, I think genre shows need 2 hour premieres.
Lately I've been seeing a lot of people taking about the idea of a 13-episode mis-season order. Just yesterday, Hitfix suggested they "wouldn't be surprised" if that happened (although they also took the edge off at bit by saying that might just be "empty, unfounded optimism").
just curious: have read in the past that cable networks like HBO can get a bang for their buck with limited run series because of the subscription model: they notice the uptick in sales right before a new season of the Sopranos or whatever and show each episode several times a week, so not as tuned-in to the numbers for the initial airing. Is it really even possible/plausible for a broadcast network to commit to multiseason shows on this pattern when it needs to show a sizable audience tuning in to a given timeslot for the majority of a long season? I love the short series structure, but would it work on broadcast commercial teevee outside of the familiar "midseason" short runs, which are, of course, meant to lead to full season runs if successful?
Flashpoint and Supernanny are really what causes Dollhouse to lose viewers, it appears.

Like I've said before, I love Flashpoint. I stayed up until 1am so I could watch the west coast feed (luckily, I knew I wasn't working today). It's not a mindless show, and it does deal with moral problems. I just wish it didn't air against Dollhouse for both our sakes.
I wish the other 50 million viewers hurry up and get their Nielson boxes already!
There's no reason to get mad at Ghost Whisperer for having higher ratings than Dollhouse. GW is a good show. I watch it at 8 and then move to Dollhouse at 9--I think both shows work together as a nice contrast.
Does anyone know how DH does in an older Demo?
I think trying to lay the blame for it's sad ratings on bad word of mouth prior to introduction and other behind the scenes stuff is an empty excuse.

One need look no further than The Mentalist for a perfect example of a show that was widely expected to be the season's first big flop and now it's pulling 15-20 million viewers a week, sometimes on a repeat.

The fact is that the average TV viewers doesn't know about all the industry talk, they just see the previews and then either turn in or they don't.

Also, people talk about first 5 episodes damaging the show's following but it can't be forgotten that it was only after episode 6 that the show really started shedding viewers. If these later episodes aren't even keeping existing viewers around then it's hard to complain about the earlier episodes.

Also, we really ought to be using Final overnight figures and not preliminary numbers. They are flawed...and final numbers are available later in the evening on the same day as the preliminary ones.
It couldn't have helped that Prom was Friday night, or at least it was in my area. Fox is a broadcasting company that depends on sponsors, so I can see why Joss Whedon isn't expecting a renewal. Also, despite what Fox executives claim, they were irresponsible to try to debut a show on Friday night. Personally, I don't see the appeal of "Supernanny," but I guess that's just me. I can think of a number of reasons why the "Dollhouse" ratings dropped, but all of them lead back to Fox taking away creative control and giving a new show a bad time slot. I can't shake the feeling that if Fox hadn't interfered with Joss' intentions with the show, it would have been better, or at least a whole lot less confusing. Fox mucked things up.
Ivalaine, the ratings in the 25-54 demo are higher.

Dollhouse wiki
I believe that as Whedon fans, we don't win friends or influence people by being supercilious towards other shows and fandoms. And since I come from a family of 'Ghost Whisperer' watchers (albeit, 2 of them are teens who are only in it for J-Love's boobs) could we have a little less snarkiness? People are complex creatures, and what floats one persons boat, may merely sink that of another. I will say, those NOT watching 'Dollhouse' are missing out on an extraordinary ride, and leave it at that.

What I can see that 'Dollhouse' is holding pretty steady, which means if it was going to be renewed on the above numbers, it will be. And if not, it's already a done deal and no amount of whining, whinging, moaning and ranting will make an iota of difference.

So chillax, pimp out the show where you can and just look forward to next week's episode- it's gonna be a corker!
Boyd seems like more of a cut out character than Ballard to me. For me He seems basically to be the Giles of the show, so I haven't warmed to him yet. Maybe when they flesh out his backstory a bit more I'll like him more.

My problem with Ballard was that I never thought he was believable. I understand his purpose in the show. My problem just stems from the early episodes because I didn't think it made sense that a FBI agent was on a case that nobody believed in when he probably had some real assignments to do. I know it's something that should be easy to overlook, but it was just a thing that bothered me to a point where I became detached from the show whenever Ballard was on during the first few episodes. It's just my problem which is something I'm pretty sure most other people wouldn't care about.

hey stunn

I actually hadn't watched the latest episode when I wrote those last remarks. I like boyd as a character alot more after seeing tonight's episode where he explained his thinking to paul.

I think Paul was given the dollhouse case, he wasn't just looking into it in his free time. They probably gave him the case because they thought it would keep him from getting in trouble, since most people think the dollhouse isn't real... or maybe someone high up in the fbi gave it to him, because they knew the dollhouse is real.
Bloody hell. Not much more I can say besides what I've already said, especially since I'm not in the mood to be attacked again. But seriously, this is a very depressing commentary, IMHO.
Wow! Those ratings are kinda sucky, huh?

Let me just say that I enjoyed all the chattin', fightin', and commiseratin' with you guys this season. I'm looking forward to doing it again next time, though I hope it is for a lot longer than half a season!

ETA Love that positive attitude, Missb, and nice shout out to J-love's boobs!

[ edited by Squishy on 2009-05-03 07:01 ]
Not sure why people think the show is canceled already. It isn't. I think FBC would love any excuse to pick it up for another season. The ratings have just been a bitch and not giving them a reason.

Also not sure why people think it should be a "midseason" show. FBC doesn't need January through May shows. American Idol and 24 fill all those holes quite nicely. Their open slots are in the fall. That is where they are the weakest. Baseball throws them a curve every year and then they make it up in January. Fringe is their only successful fall launch in how many years? 4? 5? Since Bones anyway. Fox desperately needs shows that can be competitive in the fall.
Interesting, I wonder if it does better in the 25-59 than other shows or not?
Ivalaine, I think the rank was pretty much the same in 25-54 as it was in 18-49. It's mostly small movements, like ASITHOL that outperformed Friday Night Lights (and TSCC) in the 18-49 demo, but they were all three at a 1.6/5 in the 25-54. "Needs" outperformed the Supernanny-repeat in 18-49, they were tied in 25-54. "Echoes" outperformed FNL in 18-49, tied in 25-54. And it also goes the other way around: MOTS and "Ghost" lost out to Supernanny in 18-49, but both were tied with it in 25-54.

Flashpoint generally has a big boost in 25-54 demo, since it skewes much older than Dollhouse. For instance "True Believer" was pretty competitive in the 18-49 demo (1.6 vs. Flashpoint's 1.7) but in 25-54 it was no match (1.8 vs. Flashpoint's 2.5). "The Target" outperformed a Flashpoint-repeat in 18-49 barely (1.7 vs. Flashpoint's 1.6) and it still lost out in 25-54 (1.9 vs. Flashpoint's 2.3). Same thing with "Ghost": won the 18-49 (2.0 vs. 1.8), lost the 25-54 (2.4 vs. 2.6).

All in all, that demo is only meaningful for CBS, since they have advertisers looking and paying for it. Fox doesn't.
Tamara, I assumed it's cancelled because these ratings seem to make renewal an economically indefensable decision. I'm no expert though, and I'd love to be wrong about this.
For anyone interested in the effect Hulu performance might have on Fox's decision.

From Newsweek in February said:

Amel estimates that while Hulu attracts far fewer visitors per month than YouTube (8.5 million versus 89.5 million), in financial terms Hulu is actually doing better. He estimates that last year Hulu took in $65 million in U.S. ad revenue and cleared $12 million in gross profit, while YouTube generated $114 million in U.S. revenue but had no gross profit. This year Amel estimates Hulu's revenue will grow to $175 million in the U.S. and that YouTube will take in slightly less.

Then Business Insider on April 30th showed Hulu is gaining fast on Youtube in raw viewers (and very likely way ahead in operating profit) having doubled their monthly viewership in six months while YouTube actually declined slightly.

And this is before you add in Disney/ABC who joined Hulu last week.

So Hulu is not a tiny sideline for the three networks that own it, including Fox, it is well on it's way to becoming a huge force and could very possibly overtake the broadcast network a a few years.

So when they say Dollhouse is doing well on Hulu that matters.

(And under the current WGA agreement they don't pay writers a cent for the first two weeks of airing. But that's another matter...)
Squishy, there are more things to consider than just the ratings (although that is probably the most important component and will be for many more years to come). We aren't privy to all those things since high level ratings data is the only info that is public.
thank you for those articles, zz9. They go to my reasoning for why Fox should strongly consider keeping Dollhouse as a sort of "loss leader" to help them figure out the possibilities of really building the model of profiting off of net viewing: A Whedon show is a unique opportunity to play with this model, as there is no one else in quite the position he has found himself in as both a "cult" teevee maker and a net innovator. Sarah Connor Chronicles (which I've not been following) is probably a show that might have some value in this way, but not to the same degree. I'm tempted to say "Fringe," as well, though something in my gut tells me that show is, ultimately, more of a traditional see-it-on-tv-and-maybe-occasionally-the-net-when-I-miss-it sort of thing. When I argue for this "loss leader" idea, I think I'm arguing for the strategic value of Whedon show to Fox quite separate from what my own judgement of the particular show "Dollhouse" is.
I've updated the table above with the share (4% again).
But, zz9, aren't those numbers ($12 million in gross profits) essentially nothing? They certainly don't compare to their main revenue stream of live advertising.
If SYFY picks up Dollhouse, wouldn't the production have to move to Canada? Aren't all the scripted "first run" shows made for SYFY filmed in Canada?
Syfy wouldn't be able to afford the set, let alone the actors. Or Joss.
Septumus, that is "operating profit" in addition to the fees Hulu pays the networks for running the shows. So Fox, for example, gets a fee for allowing Dollhouse to air and gets half (now a third) of the operating profit of Hulu.

In effect since the three owners of Hulu are also the content providers they can juggle to figures any way they want, big fee that adds to their bottom line and Hulu breaks even or small fee and Hulu shows a big profit. Either way it's income for them that they wouldn't have had a couple of years ago. It's coming at the expense of traditional viewing, but without Hulu they would have lost those viewers anyway to illegal downloads.

And the 2008 figures were 8.5m viewers a month to make that profit. In March they were up to over 40 million viewers a month, and growing fast. Where is it going to be in a year or so?

Certain fixed costs will stay the same (Software design and development etc) while bandwidth will have risen (though costs are generally coming down) so that profit figure will be much higher already.
And this is a business that is only a couple of years old. Amazon didn't make a cent of profit for something like five years. YouTube has never made a profit.

Fox, and the other networks, know the net is going to do to TV what TV did to radio in the 40s and 50s. Fox needs Hulu to become a big player in online viewing, maybe THE player. For that they need content now. Tomorrow is too late.
So... How did Watch Dollhouse Week go? Were you able to count clickthroughs?

Also, I just realised that events like WDW can help out cast and crew of a show, especially if the material being viewed is more than 2 weeks old. It's like you're being counted twice. We're supposedly included in their Nielsen numbers, but then we can force them to pay Joss more, by then watching his shows on Hulu after 2 weeks has passed.
I also wonder if people have decided not to watch from hearing the buzz it was almost a definite to be cancelled. Why would you want to invest in one of Joss' wonderful mysterious story arcs, knowing full well you might never get to see the conclusion?

I would like to see them move it to another night, prop it up with something like Fringe, just for 6 eps to start with.

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