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July 13 2009

Can Dollhouse survive a second season? Den of Geek ponders the matter.

I'm pretty much in agreement with the author of this article in the assessment of season 1. Very muddled and very difficult to absorb in any emotional way. They were getting there in the end, but a big step up is required to put it even in the same league as Whedon's prior work.
I'm still amazed by how people take the slot to mean that a third season is unrealistic right now. It's kind of the same reaction we saw with people saying that a second season is impossible because of what they did to Firefly.
So, we start panicking?
In the immortal words of Douglas Adams, I'd say "Don't Panic." But then again, I have a lot of faith in Joss (hehe), and I think he can pull this off as well as any of his other shows. I mean, even Buffy wasn't all that great till about halfway through Season 1, and even then only truly began to hit it's stride with the Angelus arc. If he's got a five season plan for this show, then he's probably building to something, possibly as with Angel as the article's author suggests, but then again, maybe not. After all, no one wants to repeat themselves, and he already did the conquer from within thing with Wolfram and Hart (by the way, watched the series finale of Angel yesterday, and I loved it, finally seen all four shows to present. Though I wish they'd actually show the Wolf, the Ram and the Hart). But I digress, obviously we haven't seen Epitaph One, and I think that's a gonna preview the shape of things to come with the rest of the series. Or at least some of it. Either way, the guy did good before, he'll do so again. Though the first five episodes weren't great, Dollhouse is still better than most of what's on TV right now (I'm talking to you reality television). So I'd disagree with the critic and say that it can make it to a third season, provided Joss is left at the helm.
Even though Buffy took a while to hit its creative stride, the show was still clearly defined and knew what it was about - from episode 1.

I think they're only just starting to figure out what Dollhouse is about.
Oh G-o-d... This ALREADY?

We've got two months until the season premiere. I know this upholds the fine tradition of "canceling" the show before it's even aired and all, but do we really have to do this again?

Arrgh! Bor-ring. I refuse to break out the three bean salad until at least September 26th.
The problem with this perspective is that Dollhouse wasn't a critical failure. Sure, the reviews from early in the season were bad, and hurt the show. But by mid-season, the reviews had changed. And by the *end* of the season, the critical buzz was very, very good. I don't know if that will hold or not, but giving Dollhouse a second season allows them the opportunity of regaining momentum. And now that Fox is of Joss's back when it comes to how the show is put together, I think the chances are better than even that the show will have a great start out of the gate.

The bigger question, I think, still remains: can a genre show like Dollhouse survive at all on a major network? JJ Abrams has pulled it off with Fringe, and if anyone else can, it will be Joss. But I still wonder. Even with good ratings, I rather suspect Dollhouse won't see more than the new order of 13 episodes.

I've learned to be content with that. I don't need long runs for a show so long as the writers have a chance to bring at least some closure to the story. I'd have loved to see more Wonderfalls, for instance, but at least they had an opportunity to tie up loose ends before the end.
What ern said about not being a critical failure. Also, in regards to wether DH "played it's ace" too early. That is an interesting thought. The author suggests that the writers felt they had to wrap things up due to impending cancelation. The problem with that is all of the episodes were shot before the first one aired. So the story arc played out as planned, not as forced. I also remember Joss saying something about how as much happens in the first season as he'd normally do in 2 or more. I didn't like the fast progression either, but I respect Joss' attempt to do something new, and I have no doubt whatsoever that he has an awesome plan for season 2. But only cause he planned it that way.
sorry! moved to other post
[ edited by demon magnet on 2009-07-13 15:11 ]

[ edited by demon magnet on 2009-07-13 15:22 ]
Ah, ye of little faith. Don't you know this' the season to repack your bins of fruits and various meats?

Much of what this article stated is true. However, whether those facts are relevant to the possibilities of the second season is beyond me. I seem to recall similiar questions being raised after the first season of BtVS. Then, Joss kinda' turned the whole story on its ear which made us scream for more....rest is history.

Now, back to my morning's cup of coffee and peace of mind. Wait...is it half full or empty?!
The price will probably go down soon enough, demon magnet. But for now it's a brand new season DVD, so the price is gonna be high. Though Amazon already has it for $30, which is pretty good, I think. Er, if you were asking about the DVD. I think you were.
As bobw1o has already pointed out, the idea that they've played their ace too early doesn't hold water ... we got the whole season as planned; there was no mid-season decision to wrap things up.

I have high hopes for Dollhouse Season 2, though I agree that the first season (especially the first five episodes) were less than Jossy overall. Once it got going, though: hoo boy. I think S2 will rock the house down.
Seems like some media people want us to be in a permanet state of panic. But if these are the caterpillars to pay for the butterflies I don't care so much.
Is it fuchsia again?
Good article, it sums up my thought pretty well. My one nitpick would be the part where he says "the best course of action for this show would have been to follow the plot progression that Angel did - from fighting against, to walking into, the offices of Wolfram & Hart". If we're comparing the Dollhouse to W&H then surely season 1 of Dollhouse was already from an inside perspective?

I'd personally be interested to see the very opposite of this happen, effectively what we saw in Needs with the Dolls escaping, but with at least a few episodes of them on the outside, working to take down the various Dollhouses. Even if this isn't the route the show goes down, I think it needs a radical change to this extent to make it to another season.
ChromeShark got it right about being already inside. I really couldn't figure out what the article was getting at. We already know that Echo is going to take the place down, and she's inside, so ... huh?

I very much would like to see some ex-Dolls and how they respond after being released. We've seen that their brain-reprogramming doesn't work right when they're actually *in* the Dollhouse, so what makes us think it's going to work when they send these guys back out into the world after their stint is up?
Kazzmere, I think it's more of a violet.
It's clearly maroon. It's that bad.
Actually, I think it's more of a bluish-green with flaming highlights.

Which leads me back to the destination of 'Whiskey'. Is there another group of dolls we aren't aware of, what are they planning? Or, whom is planning them?

Heh, heh! Doomsayers step aside, I'm looking forward to the story ahead!
Which leads me back to the destination of 'Whiskey'.

You mean these panic alerts happens after many doses of it or we should drink it to tolerate them?
See...that's why I stick to vodka.
Dollhouse was awesome, regardless what haters say. And no way was the ace played to early. This is just someone without a lick of sense trying to get hits by bashing one of the best shows on television right now.

And I must say I'm a Whiskey man myself.
Magenta with vertical puce stripes (they're slimming).

As to the rest, i'll include myself out as they say. Speculation like that strikes me as fairly ridiculous at this stage but if it floats the author's boat then who am I to plug his or her scuppers ?

(like Whisky well enough - though it's not overfond of me, never been as kind as vodka to the auld heid - and in its defence have to say that i'm definitely less likely to picnic after a few doses. I'd go as far as to say there're few better picnic preventatives in fact)
ern's idea is neat and I really hope they explore that.

The above statement is also my current Whedon panic level. Shiny shiny S2 ideas.
The timeslot gives the show a license to stay mature, stay a little more inside. The show was not renewed because they got the "engagements" bit right, it was renewed because it "became itself" (ie, the "Twin Peaks" aspect Joss was attempting).

It reached a 2.0 with DVR numbers, it will do well on home vid, and overseas. Business is business. What to look for this season, from a marketing standpoint, are spots playing the night before in Fringe. (Forget about the comedy lead in). The only way this show survives is to continue to build credibility with those who dismissed it. (And they had good reasons.) This is not impossible, by any stretch.
People talking about playing their ace seem to think that there's only one ace in the deck. How many Big Bads did Buffy & crew defeat, only to come back the next season to find more woes?

It's far too early for such gloom and doom.
Joss has a long history of having many aces up his sleeve.
People with too little imagination themselves assume that Joss already 'played his Ace'. But this is Joss, he not only has 4 aces, he has a couple of jokers too. I have no doubt that we will see stuff in Dollhouse' season 2 that we haven't seen before, and personally I'm really excited about it.
Ah, short-sighted men of great vision! Gotta love 'em.

I'll agree that the first few episodes of season 1 were less than ideal, but if anyone can pull a rabbit out of his hat just when people think all is lost, it's Joss. I firmly believe that without Fox's interference, Joss will do wonders with the show.
All this talking about the future only makes me wanna see Epitaph One more. Sigh...
Saje if you adjust your dial, I think you'll see those are actually brown stripes.

Alternatively, less whiskey might be called for.
My money is on Fringe getting axed, not Dollhouse. Joss 'does' do wonders for the show, while JJ Abrams screwed up with his show.
So is the idea to get all of our pickup panic over with before the season even starts? Cause my god, what a pointless effort and needless article, sorry just my opinion.
Clearly, we must start now if we are to have time to work up a proper pickup panic.
silent knight, Fringe was the number one new show with viewers 18-49. JJ hit a home run. Dollhouse was the worst rated show ever picked up for a second season. It got on first through a combination of a fielder's choice and multiple errors by the competition. In other words, a miracle. Which do I think holds more promise creatively? Dollhouse. That doesn't mean that Fringe won't always kick its ass in the ratings. It will.
ChromeShark got it right about being already inside. I really couldn't figure out what the article was getting at. We already know that Echo is going to take the place down, and she's inside, so ... huh?


Well, ern & ChromeShark, what the author was getting at (or at least, what I assume she was talking about :)) is that Dollhouse made a mistake in starting inside a morally dubious organisation. In Angel we followed characters we knew into Wolfram & Hart and had people to latch onto when they took them (and the viewers) through the moral wringer.

So what she would have preferred is for Dollhouse not to start on the inside but rather on the outside and move inside later on in the show. Which is fair enough (I can imagine that Dollhouse would've worked better for some if it chose to set-up its themes and story in a similar way), but is at the same time irrelevant because Dollhouse is not that show and won't ever be. Better to judge it for what it is instead of isn't.

As for the 'ace in the hole' argument: I think it's weird. We know there are already several seasons planned out "in principle" by Joss and we also know that S1 ended up in exactly the pre-planned place, despite the fact that the road to that place differed a bit from the original plans. So there's no real reason to suspect a priori that the ideas are now gone or that there's any problemen whatsoever. In fact: all the evidence actually points to the contrary.

Playing advocate of the devil for a moment though, I can see the same basic criticism but used in a different way, making some sense: by "burning through" this plotline in the first season (where it could certainly have been stretched for two: the basic plot-speed was very high in the second part of the first season), Dollhouse will probably (but not necesarrily) have to change gears and drill new story places to stay fresh which might be problamatic in a show which took some time to find its feet and prefered tone in its first season already. (Yikes... this paragraph consists of one sentence, heh ;))

As it is, though, I'm not worried about S2. I'm fully assuming to like it. In fact, I'd like to think that the show getting better as season one progressed is a good sign (i.e. the trend will continue), instead of the 'bad sign' which it gets spinned as in this article (which is kinda left-field and unexpected, for which I do kind of respect this article. Saying the fact that the show got progressively better is a bad thing and making it sound convincing is, at the end of the day, quite a trick :)).
HATED this article.

No, it's not because it said not particularly unpleasant things about Dollhouse. Those are actually quite easy to put up with since they are usually quite valid at least partially.

My problem is, the article really doesn't make a good case as to why S2 should have problems. It makes the case why 1 season was enough. And then it committed what I'd consider the cardinal sin of judging this series: comparing it to Firefly, Buffy, or Angel. If you like Joss, please just stop doing this. He's stretching himself by populating his world with a bunch of character's that don't SOUND like him. Remove November's Mellie and Topher, and almost everyone is a "straight" man although the Doll's occasionally have flashes of Whedon dialogue. He's done the other thing for three shows now. Let him stretch, I'm enjoying it.

Yes, so they burned through the "who is" Alpha storyline. Ok... Is the Dollhouse any less morally ambiguous? Do we know what they are really doing yet? Could Alpha not start programming people on his own to complete his own objectives? Just because Omega was a failure, do we really know that he's going to stop trying the same thing? Do we know what the other Dollhouses are doing? I'm not even putting on my thinking cap yet and I've got another season and a half in story lines. Dollhouse is more about the characters living in this really squiffy situation rather then events or clever reveals.

[ edited by azzers on 2009-07-14 01:38 ]
I can't quite see the writer's pov either. Because if s/he's big enough fan of Joss, how can they not recall that Joss's greatest strength is in turning a story upside down and creating something brilliant out of thin air. Love BtVS but the show didn't reach brilliance until Angel lost his soul -- in the middle of season two, and Buffy sending him to Hell shook the show to its foundations. And my favorite storylines on AtS was Wesley and Illyria's doomed affair in the last half of season five, and neither actor had been hired when the show premiered.

I loved the Alpha storyline but in no way did I see that as the pinnacle of Joss's storytelling abilities on Dollhouse. C'mon. I can see how we fans might freak out over the ratings and possible cancellation (a good case can be made that this miraculous season two will be the show's last), but I do not have qualms about its creative future.
Alternatively, less whiskey might be called for.

Less whisky ... less whisky ... less ... whisky.

Nope, not getting you barboo. Is that some sort of code ?
silent knight, Fringe was the number one new show with viewers 18-49. JJ hit a home run. Dollhouse was the worst rated show ever picked up for a second season. It got on first through a combination of a fielder's choice and multiple errors by the competition. In other words, a miracle. Which do I think holds more promise creatively? Dollhouse. That doesn't mean that Fringe won't always kick its ass in the ratings. It will.

There's no question about that, TamaraC, but I do think that Fringe is under a bigger pressure to perform than Dollhouse. That night might really kill Fringe, and by "kill" I mean, it's possible that Fringe won't be renewed if it comes in 4th for the slot, because the budget is too big for that. Fringe has ground to lose. Dollhouse... not so much.
This kind of speculation in July is simply insane, IMO. Dollhouse was kick-ass but uneven from the beginning. Then when the suits butted out and Joss had free reign, it became truly awesome.

No more speculation threads for me before September, unless some huge development develops. Or unless some really dumb article pisses me off sufficiently. ;)

Panic level, non-existent.

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