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October 05 2009

Should Dollhouse Be Sent To The Attic? Both a criticism of the show and questions whether or not it would be better for the show to be allowed to be canceled. Also: TV Guide's Matt Roush is concerned about Dollhouse.

[ edited by azzers on 2009-10-05 04:41 ]

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-10-05 04:47 ]

I stopped reading this article when I saw it earlier once they highlighted a reader comment claiming the show had no narrative.
The last paragraph is actually what did me in. It was the premise that it would be better for Dollhouse to die so that Whedon can work on other projects like Dr. Horrible, etc.

Now I don't have any problem with Dr. Horrible. But I actually deleted a comment I was about to post today because I thought it was a little unfair. We were talking about people exiting the show. And what I roughly said was, "And honestly I think there are now Whedon fans who are jumping off because they'd rather see Joss make Buffy the movie and work on other projects."

But I thought, "no... that would be too cynical."
I stopped reading this article when I saw it earlier once they highlighted a reader comment claiming the show had no narrative.


This.

There's most definitely a narrative. A philosophical narrative, a narrative about human nature, and then of course the individual backstories and mysteries at work surrounding each of the characters. Perhaps some folks are just too dense to follow the story through all that?

If Dollhouse is canceled, it's proof that television caters only to the lowest common denominator.

[ edited by CZGoldEdition on 2009-10-05 04:55 ]
Yeah, the "Whedon's current project should die so he can do more of what *I* want to see" stuff bugs me. "Firefly should be cancelled so he can do more Buffy!" Everyone remember that? And how exactly did Mr. Whedon feel when Firefly was cancelled? There's a certain dehumanizing & ownership of the creator in that I find distasteful.
Yeah, see, I really don't mind if people aren't into Dollhouse. But the "kill it so he can do something I like" people drive me crazy. It's part of the "dance, monkey!" attitude that Joss owes them only things they're into and never anything they aren't.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-10-05 04:59 ]
What might surprise a lot of people in the "move on to something else" camp is that part of Dollhouse's narrative involves the idea of entitlement. People believing they have a right to control the actions and endeavors of others seems to be a point of interest both on and off camera. I can only imagine what Adelle would say in response to all this.
I stopped reading this article when I saw it earlier once they highlighted a reader comment claiming the show had no narrative.


That's not what the quoted reader said at all. He was referring to a perceived lack of narrative flow present in the show going from scene to scene, not the show as a whole - an entirely different point.

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2009-10-05 05:14 ]
Even if so, it's still a non-point. Any show with several threads going at once goes from one scene to another with no connective tissue between them. That's just writing.
But, no, b!X. To use an example of a show with large ensemble cast and multiple threads, what Baltar did on the Baseship has relevance for the people back on Galactica, yes?

However, with Dollhouse, what Echo does has no effect on Sierra, has no effect on Victor. Last week's Amy-less episode made me realize how hollow the show feels for me without the "Acker factor", given that her acting could save the Titanic.

As much as I like to think long term, Dollhouse seems to actually only have enough plot points for a film, and it's getting stretched into a series. Honestly though, wouldn't Dollhouse have been a kick arse movie?
Even if so, it's still a non-point. Any show with several threads going at once goes from one scene to another with no connective tissue between them. That's just writing.


One of the keys to good writing is knowing how often and to what extent you need to 'connect the parts' in order to keep your reader/audience connected to the story. The commenter was merely pointing out his observation that - in essence - the rhythm of connectedness present in Dollhouse didn't feel to him like the most effective one that could be employed in a live-action tv show - IMO a perfectly fair criticism to make, regardless of whether I agree with it or not.

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2009-10-05 05:38 ]
I don't like Dollhouse. I have never had a show work so hard to make itself so unwatchable for me (and yes, I got through all of Season 1 and the extra DVD-only episode). Honestly, the only reason I got through it was for a podcast project with which I'm involved that required my viewing the show.

That being said -- regardless of how I feel about Dollhouse -- Whedon has every damn right to do whatever the damn hell he pleases.

If it's not your cuppa joe, well fine. Go watch something else. But Whedon does not exist just to be your creative monkey slave.
It faintly reeks of 'Misery', doesn't it, the way that some people think that killing off the DH world will lead to their 'pet' project being completed? Where's their compassion for the cast and crew who are making a living from this job?
I actually understand not liking the show, but watching in glee as the ratings drop and willing it to fail is a pretty low act.

As Joss has said, we need to trust the tale, not the teller. So as long as they keep telling, I'll keep watching.
@missb -- let me clarify. I was NOT watching it in glee, willing the ratings to drop. I actually got the DVDs from Netflix so that I could watch it for this podcast project with which I'm involved.

Truthfully, had they started from Epitaph One and worked backward, much of what made the show so problematic for me would have gone away.

That being said -- I don't get the whole "Let's watch the trainwreck just to make nasty comments!" mindset. Don't like? Don't watch.

And yes, your analogy to "Misery" is so, so apt. :/
I think that there IS a narrative but I agree with this writer in the fact that it seems extremely weak. The pacing in many of the episodes seems very odd as well and something just doesn't click with the show in my opinion. Overall I think that some of the moral questions that the show brings up are much more interesting than the actual narrative. I will say though that an exception for me is Epitaph One. Everything about that episode worked for me.

It actually kills me that I don't like Dollhouse because honest to god I've tried really hard for it to grow on me I just still find myself disappointed week after week.

[ edited by TOASTERslayer on 2009-10-05 06:03 ]
missb, but the ending to Misery is that when it was all over, the product she did force him to make WAS better. She was able to tell when he was cheating himself, and not being his best. That was the irony. And I think it's an irony that can't be ignored in the creative process, and I think the best episodes of Dollhouse are the ones that mix in this conceit anyway. So it's hard to say ha ha, the show is denouncing entitlement, and look at all you fans acting the exact same way as the Dollhouse villains, because at the end of the day, and as we see in the best episodes. there are no Dollhouse villains.

I love Dollhouse, and I'm so glad there's a season 2, but I really feel like someone (whether it be JJ Abrams, or me) needs to go into that writer's room and set things straight there. Either the writers really can't see what they have, or it's just too difficult to make work, or what. But while I love some episodes, some are very much not at the standard Whedon has set with himself (I think if the show started with the original pilot it would have had a much better shot at wowing us all and growing into a success). Last year he denounced "True Believer" as being merely diverting, and not the kind of TV he wants to make, and I feel like with "Instinct" he just took a step back again. It was better, but not his best. And Dollhouse as a whole might be getting better, but if some fans think it's not his best and he needs to hang it up for something else, maybe, just maybe, that's not completely wrong. As icky as it may be.

[ edited by narky on 2009-10-05 06:13 ]

[ edited by narky on 2009-10-05 06:15 ]
See, I kind of like the strange pacing. It gives the show texture, like it is physically different as well as philosophically from other shows. And I don't think the individual character story lines are disjoint at all. All the characters from the med guy we don't know from the last episode to adelle at the top live together in an isolated microcosm community (no i'm not implying that they all physically live there..) and that isolation forces every aspect of all their lives to be interconected. I think the narrative illustrates that well.
I stopped reading when he said that it's more like a "storyboard" then a TV show.
Ten years from now, it might be interesting to revisit this topic. "Dollhouse" has found its footing, and is on a trailblazing path like nothing seen on network TV. That so few choose to follow--or are even aware of the journey--is a tragedy.
I watched Epitaph One (for the first time) and Vows back-to-back. I thought it was the most brilliant two hours of television - or perhaps anything - I'd seen in a long time. For me, *everything* in Vows tied forward to Epitaph One. I loved it. I'm dumbstruck at the ratings problems & the general sort of apathy. I mean, I'm used to being out of the mainstream - but I'm still surprised.
Oh Betnoir, I wasn't pointing to any one person on here willing it to fail, and since it's the W I'm not going to diss other fandoms. But it's become a sport on places like TVBTN.
Narky, the 'Misery' analogy is that the creator wanted to head in one direction (by killing off a character), and external forces dictated that the author go in another. And in the case of DH, mental 'hobbling' didn't make the story any better and left a lot of viewers confused.
But that's a bygone. The focus now needs be NOT on fingerpointing, blaming, whining and infighting, but on taking quick, decisive action to try to keep this show on the air.
I can't help snickering every time when somebody complains that Whedon is not his best here. :)

In general, this is quite maddening stuff, the entitlement, the train wreck viewing party, the constant nostalgia combined with a sense of urgency (I would have loved to see his/her thoughts after "Some Assembly Required").
Well, it's their opinion and they're JAIF (Just Another Internet Farty), same as the rest of us. But as with some of the season 1 criticisms, i'm struck by how little some folk seem able to separate what they feel from what the show might be trying to do. This author is indifferent to Caroline returning for instance but it seemingly doesn't occur that that might be exactly the idea - that we're indifferent to her but that she still has a right to exist (or that's the starting point of the debate at least). Or the show lacks team spirit (like Joss' previous shows had) so it's a fault of the show rather than of this reviewer's preconceptions and expectations.

For me, BTW, 'Vows' was a bit of a virtuoso performance from all involved (a few plot issues aside) so I almost entirely disagree with the idea that it's disjointed - 2/3 of the way through I was absolutely riveted (much more so than for 'Instinct').
The author summed up all of my feelings about Dollhouse and said some things that I've thought about it almost verbatim. I've never posted them on this site, though, because this is a place for Whedon fans and I felt like a douchebag, peeing on the parade. But since the topic is here-- and long overdue-- I'd like to weigh in.

The quote I can most relate to is this:

I donít want to say any of this. Iíd rather write a lengthy argument on why this show is so amazing and why people are missing out.


Like the author, I am an embarrassingly huge Whedon fan. I've seen OMWF so many times that I can quote every line and even sing the different harmonies from each song. I can recite trivia that would make even the most stalwart Star Trek nerd go quiver in the closet. I wanted to like this show more than anyone.

I tried so hard to like it. It was an almost physical effort sometimes. It's an effort that never paid off, and, now that I think about it, was a stupid effort to make in the first place. Buffy and Firefly required no effort-- they were genius from word one. From word one. To not get caught up in those shows means that you have a heart three times too small.

But it's just not there in Dollhouse, for many reasons. One of the reasons is something that I haven't been able to put into words, but the article did, in a way I think is incredibly insightful and correct:

"Dollhouse" feels less like a TV show and more like a *storyboard* of a TV show.


and

I think Dollhouse lacks a key ingredient that all of the other shows thrived on: Team spirit. While Dollhouse has a cast of excellent characters, all of whom have interesting story lines, there really isnít a group dynamic in this show.


This sums up the disconnection at the heart of the show. On Buffy and Firefly, the Whedon ensemble was there with a vengeance. The sum of the cast was more than its parts. There was a magic that's impossible to alchemize. Dollhouse completely lacks that. It really is like a storyboard from a comic book, lacking that third ingredient that breathes life into it.

It just doesn't have the spark. It's a failed golem.

I very much agree with the author that I hope it's canceled soon, so that Joss can go back to making the great stuff of his that I love so much.

This show is a black hole for talent.

I've wanted to say this stuff but never did, because this is a site for Whedon fans and I thought it would be seen as some kind of attack. It may still be seen like that, but it's not like that. I will always be the first person in line to trumpet the stuff that deserves trumpeting. But Dollhouse is not one of those things. I hope it dies a quick and painless death (and the ratings say it probably will), so that Joss can get back to the good stuff, whatever that may be.

[ edited by dispatch on 2009-10-05 12:44 ]
I hope it dies a quick and painful death (and the ratings say it probably will), so that Joss can get back to the good stuff, whatever that may be.

As valid as your opinion may be (to you and to some people), openly wishing a "painful death" to this series is a bit disrespectful to those who do enjoy the show, imo. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but you state yours as if it is fact. The fact is that some people enjoy Dollhouse a lot. I am one of them.

Not meaning to jump on you for not liking Dollhouse. I get that it isn't your cup of tea, and that's cool. But there are people who feel differently, and will be very upset if the show fails.

[ edited by ShanshuBugaboo on 2009-10-05 12:32 ]
Quite. Everyone's obviously entitled to dislike 'Dollhouse', to express that opinion and to not watch but personally I find hoping the show dies to be selfish and somewhat mean-spirited (I feel that way about any show BTW, even those I don't watch/like myself - if someone else is enjoying it then why wish it dead purely because you're not ?).

I've wanted to say this stuff but never did, because this is a site for Whedon fans and I thought it would be seen as some kind of attack.

You clearly haven't been on many of the episode discussion threads dispatch, particularly for season 1, where a lot of "points against" were made by several people (though I think the "it's just a storyboard" idea is new. Baffling to me but new nonetheless). Is it a minority opinion on here ? Very probably (though I suspect it'd be closer to 50/50 for 'Dollhouse' than any other Whedon show). But so long as it's put in a civil manner then I doubt anyone here minds (it's just another opinion in the mix after all, as Earth-shatteringly unimportant as mine or anyone else's).
ShanshuBugaboo, that was a typo, sorry. I meant "painless death", not "painful death". A painful death is a nasty thing to wish on anyone and not how I feel about the show at all. I want it to die quietly and quickly, like a benevolent grandmother.

[ edited by dispatch on 2009-10-05 12:46 ]
Forme, the big problem is that there is no team spirit; there are a number of people we can identify with- not that I do with any of them, which has been my main problem with the show- but that the only interactions we see with them is in the context of an assignment. When they return to the DH, they get wiped, and their interactions are back to the childish comments they make to one another. So there is no sense of who the real Echo is, the real Sierra, the real Victor, and no way to see them interact as those real people. It is all construct, and feeds into my long-held argument that we have no one to invest in, certainly not Echo, who is now many people, none worth investing in.
I meant "painless death", not "painful death".

Aww, well that does make a big difference. Though technically it's still death! ;)
I wasnt a fan of Dollhouse when it began. But my attitude with TV shows is that I will give it 6 episodes. I think 6 hours out of my life is quite enough to get me into something.

I tried Heroes, and after 6 episodes gave up...just didnt do it for me.

Then I tried Dollhouse. I almost gave up before the 6th episode. And I am glad I didnt. Its not the greatest show ever. It wouldnt be anywhere near Angel or Firefly for me...but it is a very entertaining, interesting show and I have enjoyed very much the end of the 1st season, and so far what I have seen of this season. But it would not hurt me like the cancellations of Angel and Firefly did. At the same time I do want it to continue and grow into what I think could be something quite special given time.
I'm obviously in the minority here, but I felt like I agreed with most of the article. Dollhouse has themes, conflicts, etc., but I think it's correct to say there isn't much narrative: narrative in the sense of allowing the story to unfold. We get a lot of dialogue with layered meanings, and lots of symbolism, but narrative? Not really. The show is very disjointed, in my opinion. I can definitely agree with the "storyboard" criticisms of the show: lots of great ideas, interesting conflicts, but not enough structure.

It's not that I don't like Dollhouse. I do like parts of it. But I do find myself wishing Joss would do something else instead. I find myself agreeing with some of the other comments here that I shouldn't have to try so hard to like a show. Buffy and Angel and Firefly had rough spots, but I never had to try hard to overlook them. Dollhouse has everything you'd expect in a Whedon show except a strong ensemble. Individually, the actors are great. Together ... not so much. Like others have said, the show lacks the spark the others had.

I tend to think that this is a result of how the show was birthed, rather than any fault of the individuals involved (all of whom obviously put in their 110%). The show wasn't conceived from a moment of creative insight, but as a way of showcasing Eliza. Now, Joss did far better than most would given the situation, but it really hasn't been enough. There's no joy in Dollhouse. There's no heart. Not like in Firefly or even Dr. Horrible. The final ten minutes of Dr. Horrible are a thousand times better than the whole of Dollhouse. Why? It's the spark.

Sorry, but I won't shed any tears if Dollhouse is canceled. Nor would I blame Fox. They gave the show a chance. They gave it a second season. But the ratings just aren't there. The show just has not captured the magic of Whedon's earlier work. Season two has been disappointing so far. It's no one's fault, really. Sometimes creative ideas don't bear the kind of fruit we'd like.

Dollhouse should probably die.
I'm struck by a common thread in the opinions of those who dislike or are disappointed by Dollhouse, and that is, is essence, "it's nothing like everything/anything Joss has done before".

I actually would have been disappointed it DH was like anything Joss has done before. I love the "found/created family" on Buffy, Angel and Firefly as much as anyone. But I would have been deeply disappointed if he's revisited that territory yet again.

I do believe DH has been uneven, but so were Buffy and Angel, 14 to 16 episodes in (depending on how you count).
Firefly was close to perfection, technically. But at the sad end of those thirteen eps, I was far less emotionally invested than in Buffy or even Angel.
The emotional investment was beginning to build and I feel certain would have continued to build. And if fact did build for me, with Serenity. but it wasn't the love at (almost) first sight that I felt for BtS, for all it's early flaws.

Not everyone finds DH lacking in the emotional investment department. I'm deeply invested in Echo/Caroline's multiple identities, and the deft handling of the parts of her persona that are emerging as her constants ;).
Her courage and mental/emotional strength are awesome. And at the end of Instincts, her revealing to Ballard that she didn't want to take the easy way out - that any reality, even one of pain and confusion, was better than a blank slate- that really sealed the deal for me.

I've been fascinated by Topher from the beginning - he's had "tragedy waiting to happen" practically written on his forehead, from day one (but so very skillfully). And since Epitaph 1, he breaks my heart - even when I want to slap him. That is my idea of a beautifully written character.

Everyone's entitled to their opinion, but just IMO, we wouldn't be holding a show done by anyone but Joss, to such impossibly high standards.
You know why I don't want Dollhouse to be cancelled?

It's simple. I thought 'Epitaph One' was one of the best episodes of television I've ever seen. Ever. It had me floored the first time I watched it, and I actually had to go straight back to the start and watch it over again. Knowing that that's where the characters are headed, I desperately want to see how that happens.

I prefer Dollhouse when it's not about Echo's engagements. The latter half of the first season is when it was at its best, and at that point the show focussed much more on the inner workings of the Dollhouse than anything going on outside it. All of those actors are brilliant, and they are creating some of the most complex characters on TV - we're not watching the heroes, or the good guys, we're watching the bad guys. Still, I can't help but like some of them.

Really, though, when it comes down to it, there is one fundamental reason why I want to keep watching for as long as the show survives: if there's any chance of another episode of television as good as 'Epitaph One', I want the damned opportunity to see it.
I think we should go back to the wilderness years when the only new Joss product was Astonishing X-Men and we just talked about how great Buffy, Angel and Firefly were . We were safe in our comfort zone back then. But god it as dull.
Heh, Simon, that statement ties into "Instinct" pretty nicely. I'll take awareness/risk-of-pain/increased stimulating conversation over the sleepy comfort (aside from Dr. Horrible excitement and the odd good conversation about previous shows and printed projects) of pre-Dollhouse, post-Angel Whedonesque.

Hoping for the show to get canceled...why not just go watch something else instead of hoping for that ? There's plenty of awesome on TV (and DVD). Joss will get back around to producing something you like eventually. Right now, he wants to make Dollhouse. Over and above what the fans want, wouldn't you rather see someone (from professional to lay person) work on something they feel passionate about ? Aside from the business restrictions (ie, budget and threat of cancelation) that might prevent someone from creating what they like, as in Joss' case, isn't it kind of mean to basically say, "I don't like that picture of a tree you're painting--draw a dog for me instead!"

[ edited by Kris on 2009-10-05 16:37 ]
I can see why some devoted fans would want it cancelled. This season so far feels like a betrayal. We bonded with the show towards the end of last season, we loved it enough to keep it alive. Now it's slutting around on dull engagements again. Even if it's better than the start of season one, we weren't involved then. It's natural to lash out when you've been betrayed.
I don't feel betrayed though. I just feel like we're at the beginning of a season.
Now it's slutting around on dull engagements again


doublemeat: I seem to recall warning you about the language you've used here before, so your posting priveleges have been withdrawn for a bit.
Perhaps the folks who have detailed visions of the show they "wish" Joss were making rather than Dollhouse should channel some of their creative energies into their own work. It's not true that all critics are failed creators but, before the Internet, they at least had to prove themselves as journalists. Now, anybody can be an expert.

They want Joss to go to SyFy or another cable network or movies or strictly Internet. Has he really been turning down other opportunities right & left? How did they gain such detailed knowledge of his professional life?

One thing I wonder about some critics of Whedon's work (& about Mad Men--the other show I regard as more than light entertainment)--how did they encounter the earlier shows? Did they follow Buffy from its broadcast premier? Or, after years of hearing it was hip, did they finally catch up quickly with DVD's? Did they pull some marathons, skipping over the dull bits & concentrating on the better parts--aided, of course, by clues they picked up on the 'net? If so, waiting a full week between episodes can be rough on short attention spans. One episode that isn't utterly splendid makes them murmur about "shark jumping."

Some fairly serious real life events made me miss the debuts of earlier Whedon shows; faithfully following re-runs & buying DVD's let me catch up. But, as an old person who remembers TV before VHS, I'm capable of taking the long approach. I'm enjoying Dollhouse; even the slower episodes contain clues that pay off when the more obviously amazing shows appear.

I will be seriously disappointed if Fox doesn't even let Joss finish this season. I know some people just don't like Dollhouse; they don't have to watch it. But those hoping for its early cancellation deserve an eternity of reality show re-runs.

(At least Mad Men has already been renewed for a fourth season.)

[ edited by not_Bridget on 2009-10-05 16:57 ]
Just wanted to take a moment to reflect. 2 years ago, right about now, give or take a couple days, Joss was sitting down with Eliza for pizza, accidentally hatching the show that we're discussing cancellation of in this thread.
For me very rarely do the 1st few episodes of a new season start very well I always think it takes 3-4 episodes to find the direction the story is going. 24 or Dexter for example, my mum and dad realy strugled to get into Dexter Season 1 intil about 6 episodes in and we all felt seasons 3,4,6 and 7 took about 5 episodes to get going.
Roush's comments in the TV Guide thread made me stop and think. He points out the best performances in the second season have been from non-regular Amy Acker. And he's right... but what does that mean?

I'd just like to point out that Enver and Dichen have been almost absent from these first two eps. Some have critiqued Dichen but Enver's been extraordinarily strong -- and yet he was on the shelf on Friday. And the warmest and fuzziest bits of the show have been their relationship (relegated to a visual footnote in "Vows") and the Boyd/Echo relationship (which is now playing out, with much less fuzziness, exclusively between Boyd and Ballard).

To draw an analogy... this would be like starting Season 2 of BtVS with Willow minimized and Giles' relationship with Buffy now played out exclusively in conversations with Wesley: just not enough heart there, folks.

With Firefly and with Buffy I could instantly convert half a dozen people to the show just by saying, "It's about family," or saying, "You'll love Kaylee." I could convert half a dozen more by saying, "This show plays with ideas on a level you've never seen before." But with Dollhouse I can really only talk it up to the idea-lovers... and half my potential as a recruiter is gone.

Yes, it's radically different. That's fine by me; I'm in love with the ideas the show is playing with. But Roush is right, they've made some missteps in the show, which is clearly driving some of us away. The show has divided the fan base, and without advertising, no one's coming in to replace those of us who are leaving. Since the fan base alone wasn't enough to support the show on a non-cable channel to begin with... I fear the end is nigh.
When I read the multitude of opinions above, I'm torn. I see both sides of the equation: having had a modicum of involvement in fandom over the last five years, I understand the-stand-by-your-man loyalty that's expressed by the plurality of commenters, and find much about Dollhouse and its themes to be engaging and admirable. Heck, I even traveled cross-country twice to attend panels on the show, and actively promoted the series to others.

But I also see the flaws in the diamond, and can relate to the feeling that there's a definite disconnect between the A-story and B-story plots; that the main characters don't speak to me as they did with Whedon's previous work. At first, I chalked this up to growing pains, as the series was an entirely different beast for Joss; but even in the later half of the first season, it didn't really click for me.

Yet, like many, after having seen (multiple times now) and been amazed with "Epitaph One," I was eagerly anticipating that going into the new season we'd be getting a re-energized show, with stronger stories and a clearer purpose. I'm not finding that in the two episodes thus far, which seemed to limp out of the gate.

I don't think there's anything conspiratorial in how FOX has handled the series; I'm sure the execs wanted to work with Joss, to let some of the Whedon magic rub off on them. I can believe, however (on granted, anecdotal evidence) that FOX expressed a particular desire for what they expected from Dollhouse and that in trying to meet those expectations Joss retooled his original plans, shying away from some of the stronger stuff he might have cooked up. What we've gotten so far, in fits and starts, is a hint of what that might be. But I can't help but feel that the series never built the momentum it needed to sustain audience interest. At this point, I fear it's too late for it to become a sleeper hit, or get a sudden surge in viewers.
I really don't want to see "Dollhouse" canceled. I was not in love with it last year. I'm still not in love with it. It has many problems, some of which I think I understand and others that I'm still pondering as to why it's not gelling.

I am of the opinion though, that I that I am witnessing something extraordinary. I believe (there's that word) that Joss and Co. are reaching for a type of story and story telling that has never been attempted before. (But given my limited abilities to view the world's t.v. output, I'm sure that's debatable.) I think that because they are trying to create something entirely new, they are indeed stumbling at times --but that they are also achieving frequent moments of brilliance.

Unfortunately, the world of creative television is both expensive and impatient, and those two things do not support evolution. Whatever the outcome, I'm excited to see him reaching for the unimagined and I am hoping to have a chance to buy "The Complete Season 2" DVD.

Now if only the writers would just give us someone to love...
I think someone might have already mentioned it, but for all the people that were expecting greatness this soon in the season, think back to Buffy Season 2, one of the greatest seasons of tv ever in terms of the overall arc in my mind, but just looking at the first two episodes that season, you had "When She Was Bad" and "Some Assembly Required", hardly stellar eps, with the latter being on a lot of people's worst Buffy eps ever lists. Imagine if everyone had tuned out at that point.

I know the situations are different, but just something to think about. Seems people are more and more impatient when it comes to tv these days.
A fair point -- but at least "When She Was Bad" had Willow and Xander being cute and sweet, and Buffy and Giles talking to each other. And "Some Assembly" had Giles and Ms. Calendar having fun. Not top-quality, but they had some warmth, some interactions. And what happened between Giles and Jenny mattered to Buffy, and what happened between Buffy and Xander mattered to Willow and Angel... has Echo even talked to Sierra, outside of engagements, in the last two shows? Has Boyd talked to Echo? Has Adelle?
I love Buffy and I consider Firefly perfection. And I find Dollhouse a great show. I love the symbolism and its way of putting the finger on themes like objectifiaction and entitlement, often in ways that are a tad unconfortable.

Some of the critique put forward here have some validity though, and helped me understand what I was missing in Dollhouse. That is, the team work and the synergy in lack of a better word. In Firefly and Buffy it is the interplay between the characters that allow the writing to push the show to that extraordinary hight. And the writers often use that dialogue to highten drama and drive the narrative. The lack of it is probably what is persived as lack of narrative flow in Dollhouse. And yes, Dollhouse is different from Joss'es other shows. Especially in this regard. To me that is not a bad thing. It is just different. But if we watch closely there is character interplay in Dollhouse, to even if it is much subtler.

Just my ramblin penny.
I've said it before (so I hope I dont sound like a broken record), all the show needs to pull the nay-sayers back into the fold is a few more laughs. When Joss is making us laugh, it usually means we are engaging the characters or the situation on a personal level. You can't cry if you don't laugh.

Right now the show is still "an interesting idea" and "it raises moral questions" yadda yadda yadda but it hasn't hit me on a personal level. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good sci-fi show as much as the next guy (probably more) and I look forward to the show from the moment I get off work on Friday afternoon. I just wish I liked some (or any) of the characters besides the always serious Boyd.

I like the Dolls when they are blank slates. Again, most of the time, those situations where they are just blank slates hanging out in the basement eating, getting massages and taking showers are the scenes that make us laugh. (yes, I know, not when dolls are being raped by their handlers. I realize that's not funny)

Ballard strikes me as a total psycho and it confuses me that the PTB just brought him into the inner circle like that. Doesnt make sense, yet.

Then there's Adelle. She was AWESOME until her weak-willed "relationship" with Victor was shown. That episode ruined the character for me. I think they should have saved that story for a later date because until that point, it showed how strong and smart she was...the Victor thing invalidated both of those strong character points leaving a weak-willed phony running the facility.
I've laughed at Dollhouse. I've cried at Dollhouse. So I guess I don't need the show to do much differently. I just need more people to actually know it exists, and to bother taking some of their time to watch it.
ManEnoughToAdmitIt makes and reiterates a strong point. How much of any episode matters? As far as I'm concerned, the bits with Denisof and the conversation at the end are the only two that hold any weight. Now, of course I could be wrong. We can find out later that this engagement held a lot more weight. But have we found that out about being a back-up singer? Or a blind agent?

What kept me going through the rough spots of Buffy and Angel were the characters, who I loved and adored. This show doesn't have characters to love and to watch grow through the rough spots. Moreoever, to compare this to early Buffy is silly, since S2 early Buffy was getting good enough ratings that it didn't matter what the hardcore fandom had to say. Now, since the end is nigh and we're the only ones watching, our words matter more only because we're the only ones watching!
Different things for different people, I watched Battlestar Galactica avidly but thought the characters were completely unloveable. Never felt any warmth for them but I enjoyed the show.
For what it's worth, "When She Was Bad" pulled a 2.9 Nielsen rating (or est. 2.8 million viewers.) Buffy's audience actually grew during the second season-- so much so that the rerun of the episode actually got 3.1. On The WB. In 1997. Think about that.
Different things for different people, I watched Battlestar Galactica avidly but thought the characters were completely unloveable. Never felt any warmth for them but I enjoyed the show.



Which brings up an interesting point. Dollhouse is far from the first show to have no clear "hero" or to have a main cast that is largely gray or even completely unlikable. It's just that Joss has never done that type of show before. People have certain expectations of a Joss Whedon show and this show largely deviates from that. It would be interesting to see how a show like this would have been received if it was by a first time creator with no previous baggage or successes to live up to.
I'd rather have all this talk over cancellation sent to the attic.

After all, why would a new viewer tune into this when since the first episode people predicted it would be canceled? Doesn't sound like a worthwhile investment to me.

That being said, I've enjoyed it since the beginning. And never really cared for Firefly. Color me crazy.
I think there's a lot of Dollhouse inflation going on here. All this "type of story never attempted before" stuff. It's baloney. Dollhouse is certainly a creative show in a lot of ways, but at its heart it is a standard conspiracy-mystery story. It's not the structure that is new, it's the content. Unfortunately, the creative content is failing to direct the show structure. We're not getting more Epitaph One at the moment, which is what the show needed. We're getting something halfway between the first six episodes and the last six. There's a lot of promise in Dollhouse, but at the moment that promise isn't translating into reliably compelling drama.

As for those of us who want Joss to do something different, it's not that we want him to go "back" and do Firefly or Angel or Buffy. We just want him to do something that is not Dollhouse. Why? Dollhouse isn't that great. And if these first two episodes of this second season are any indication, the rest is not going to be enough to save it. I doubt any of us have any specific suggestions for what Joss should do. But Dollhouse isn't his best, and I think a lot of us know it.

At this point, the show is unlikely to survive to a third season. Best, I think, to let it die and let everyone else move on to other projects more likely to succeed. I'd much rather have that than have these actors tied down to a sinking show.

I think it's also a mistake to say that the show is failing because it does not meet most people's expectation of a Joss Whedon show. Ok, reality check: most mainstream television viewers have no clue who Joss Whedon is, and have no set list of things to expect from him and one of his shows. They tuned in to Dollhouse once or twice, decided they didn't like it, and moved on. If the show fails, it does so on its own merits (or lack thereof), and it's downright silly in my mind to blame the show's failures on the audience's expectations when it's pretty clear most people didn't have any.
For the sake of those who are enjoying it and of course for the sake of all the people working on the show and whose jobs are at stake I hope that Dollhouse gets to finish its second season.

It doesn't look hopeful but then a renewal for a second season didn't look hopeful.
I'd much rather have that than have these actors tied down to a sinking show.

If the show dies then no-one's tied down to it, if it doesn't then why wouldn't they want to continue working as long as possible ? Cancellation is the norm in US TV, not the exception. As professional actors most of them will presumably know that.

Ok, reality check: most mainstream television viewers have no clue who Joss Whedon is, and have no set list of things to expect from him and one of his shows. They tuned in to Dollhouse once or twice, decided they didn't like it, and moved on.

OK, actual reality check - for whatever reason (and I personally, have always been and still am loathe to adopt the all too easy "blame Fox" perspective) most mainstream viewers haven't even seen it since it debuted to 4.7 million viewers and has, on average, trended downwards since. So we have no idea what most mainstream TV viewers think of it. Unless they're taking turns in watching it one week then letting another member of the mainstream watch it the following week.
Dollhouse showed a lot of promise with Epitaph 1. The first two episodes this year, not so much.

The problem is that you can't easily summarize the concept in a few short words to catch people. And when you do, they aren't interested.
Woops. I just posted a comment on the other thread that I initially intended to post here. Though I think it might actually have fitted there better.

Anyway, I full-heartedly agree with debw. I'm really glad to read there are people so passionate about Dollhouse and I really hope for you, but also for Joss and co and for me and all other casual viewers that enjoy wathing that atleast the first 13 eps of this season will get made. It's a tiny bit of a shame that some (a tiny portion, really) of those that love the show seem to have a bit of a need to question the intelligence of people who don't love it (that much yet), but so be it. Maybe I'm reading to much into things.

The initial reaction towards Firefly and the question how people will think about Dollhouse in a few years time are both very interesting to me. It would be amazing if Dollhouse would be the same reputation Firefly did. It'd be especially great if I would grow to like it that way too.

Simon wrote:
Different things for different people
Those words seem to be remarkably true for this show. I for one like most of the Dollhouse characters but my problem with it is that at large parts of the series I find the story a bit repetive and predictable. And I seem to be the only one who thought Epitaph One was a relatively weak episode.

On all other things I already wrote in the other thread, so I will refrain from doing so again. I have to admit that while I accuse the show of being repetive and predictable, I'm far worse myself.

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2009-10-05 23:21 ]
So we have no idea what most mainstream TV viewers think of it. Unless they're taking turns in watching it one week then letting another member of the mainstream watch it the following week.


Hee hee. Well, personally I wouldn't put it past mainstream TV viewers to organize their dismissal of Dollhouse in exactly that way. It would be so like them. But all these reality checks are making me dizzy.

And never really cared for Firefly. Color me crazy.


I'm coloring you with all my craziest colors right now ;)! I'm glad I didn't see Firefly until after it had been canceled - I would have been very very sad. Dollhouse maybe being canceled will disappoint me, but I'm not all that invested. It's been so uneven, and I keep hoping it will get even-er, but ... not yet. I thought Vows was mostly fantastic, and Instinct was mostly awful. I do still look forward to each episode, and it's frustrating that it hasn't been promoted well (or so I understand...) but I'm also not all that surprised that it's struggling to find an audience or that a lot of people are tuning out.
For the sake of those who are enjoying it and of course for the sake of all the people working on the show and whose jobs are at stake I hope that Dollhouse gets to finish its second season.

Yes. Putting Joss aside, that's an awful lot of people to wish out of work just because you don't enjoy it as much as his other shows. Dr. Horrible only gave work to a few people at reduced pay. Go ahead and dislike the show, but why actively wish for it to be cancelled? Do they think Joss will suddenly get an offer to do another tv show if that happens?
And how do those wishing him on to something 'better' know his definition of better matches theirs? It seems quite possible the things some think are the weakest areas of the show are actually exactly what he was going for. No one strong hero with which to identify, no sense of family, etc. Course, could be the other way around, too.

I think it's perfectly sound to say "I don't really like Joss Whedon's current work". What I don't find very logical is "Joss Whedon should stop making what he's making right now 'cause I don't like it". What if *he does*?

I find HIMYM spotty. Last season I almost gave up entirely. But I'd not wish for it be cancelled so Alyson Hannigan could go back to doing something I personally wanted to see.

Or, What B!x & Saje have said. As usual. :P
tinktanker, here's my summary of the Dollhouse concept in fifteen words or less:

'A group of volunteers are imprinted with various personalities for mysterious assignments.'

hacksaw, I agree with everything you say. No one forces anyone to watch any show. And there's no evidence that the moment Joss is off Dollhouse networks will jump on the opportunity to get him onboard. As he said it himself, he's not a big hit guy, which is what networks want nowadays.

Even after all the DVD success of Firefly, and during the years he wasn't running any TV shows no one I know of has approached Joss for reviving the Firefly, or even for Serenity 2.

But I'm still in love with the Dollhouse concept. I hope everything will settle for the show, and it lasts another 5 seasons. If not, I'd vote for a reboot a few years down the track.

[ edited by Effulgent on 2009-10-06 01:22 ]
I find reviews and comments like these strange and dispiriting--it's like the reviewers and I are watching completely different shows. Just to give a couple of examples: I loved "Vows," felt like it was moving the story forward in all kinds of exciting ways, and that the various narrative threads flowed into each other very smoothly. (The scenes with the senator were slightly less connected, but they're obviously setting up a storyline that's going to unfold in later episodes--which works for me.) I also find the repeated praise of Amy Acker (at the expense of everyone else) hard to fathom. Don't get me wrong, I love Amy Acker, and she's turned in some brilliant work here--but is no one noticing the subtle, nuanced acting of Enver Gjokaj? The implausible beauty and complete adorableness of Sierra? The deeply flawed, weirdly honorable, self-contradictory Adelle? Not to mention Topher, whose conceited smarter-than-thou immaturity is, in large part, an act.

I mean, I loved all of Whedon's other shows--I loved the connectedness, the found families, all of that. But this show's exploration of disconnectedness--of people profoundly distanced from other, and even more distanced from themselves--resonates with me just as deeply. It's less warm and fuzzy, sure, but why does that make it less worthwhile?
I think Joss has become successful to a point that he has fallen into the trap most successful artists do when it comes to their work.

They simply can't win.

Either they basically do the same thing and are then labeled as one trick or afraid to change or worse yet (apparently) they do change and everyone goes "but i wanted it to be like the stuff from before." Frustrating. I like Dollhouse, to me it's complete philosophy and the writers can write the hell out of those kind of arguments. I can see how people tuning in for an action packed, hot chick jumping explosions and saving orphans show would be let down but please don't wish the show I like harm because it doesn't fit in with your emotional needs. I'm not into crime procedurals but I am not wishing they all vanish either.
Dollhouse does lack those connections between the characters but itís meant to. Thatís whatís so awful about wiping away a personís brain, it leaves just a hollow shell. Itís not meant to be a good thing and thatís why I love it. Obviously itís not everybodyís cup of tea but thatís why I think the show is so very original and so different to pretty much any other series, let alone any other Whedon series. If I believed that they werenít connecting simply because the writing was flawed I probably wouldnít enjoy the show. However, since Iím so sure it is deliberate I have no issues with it.

Weíve all seen Epitaph One, weíve seen that those personal relationships have developed at some point in the future. It's not time for that yet but judging by the last two episodes we're on our way.
To state the obvious, cancellation isn't just "let's mix it up and try again". Remember what Joss did after Firefly was canceled? Eliza after Tru Calling? To loosely summarize, "nothing". Not anything that we got to see anyway - not for a few years. Any project is a long shot to happen until it does. There are any number of reasons it can go sideways and turn into a non-starter. Where Eliza is concerned, she's talked openly about not wanting to be in the acting business forever. Dollhouse could very well be her swan song for all we know. Maybe Joss takes a break from television again Ė would that particularly surprise anyone?

And that's individually... Joss and Eliza was my dream team long before it was ever gouda-ed into an improbable reality. It's possible their paths would cross again, but I have to think it's very unlikely that they'd find themselves working together the way they are now. Dollhouse isn't without problems - I don't think it's lived up to the sum of its parts yet, but the potential... it doesn't come any closer and I still really want to see what this show can be.
I also find myself watching a different show than many of the critics and other commentators. I find it confusing and dispiriting, but so it goes, and obviously everyone has a right to dislike, or not to like, or to hate, whatever they want.

And I do understand, don't get me wrong. As a quick example, on a first viewing I was unimpressed with "True Believer"; my second viewing was a jolt, and I saw a nuanced, taut, delicately structured hour, with rhymes and connections all over the place. And entertaining, and funny. Most of the show's episodes I liked right from the start, except the ones I loved.

"Vows" skipped some of the mechanical questions in the Martin Klar plotline (how did the pair fall in love so quickly? - mentioned in Roush's review) and went right for Paul's throat, with lots of contradictory theories on why Paul is engaging Echo the way he is. I understand that the mechanical questions are (often) important; for this episode, I didn't feel it was crucial. (It's four months, she can be the perfect woman: disbelief suspended.) The premiere had its flaws, but I actually, honestly, felt that its flaws were in moving the main plot along too fast and not too slowly. But that's me.

Listen: no one's watching this show. I get that, and it's no one's responsibility to like the show. Lots of people here are fans, but lots aren't, and lots of critics are fans and lots aren't; it's part of the business, and Whedon et al. are honestly trying to do something different from what they've done before, and that means, crucially, not succeeding in the exact way they have before. I think the show is mostly succeeding in what it sets out to do; I'm not always riveted but I'm always intrigued. I wish it weren't just a few of us hanging out here, actually enjoying the show, but it's the way it is.

Besides Mad Men, there's no current television drama I'm more invested in. I'm along for the ride as long as the ride goes.
Remember what Joss did after Firefly was canceled?

Not to be contrary, but Buffy and ANGEL were still on the air after Firefly, and the year following ANGEL's end we got Serenity. Subsequently, Joss also developed a script for Wonder Woman (which stalled) and Goners (still in development).

[ edited by Whedonage on 2009-10-06 03:56 ]
Not to be contrary to the being contrary, but I think the point was the issue of new projects. Firefly was gone in 2002, and we didn't see Serenity until 2005. WW never happened. Goners neither. It's not like a project drops and something automatically takes it's place.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-10-06 04:22 ]
It's a fair correction, but yes, I was referring to the Firefly/Serenity gap with no new/replacement projects. I think the gist holds up Ė if only because of "loosely", which is an insanely useful word. Throw in Buffy Animated and Ripper as two more that are still sitting on the shelf.
The passion of many of you guys here about DH is stirring. I agree that the only thing we should wish for artists like Joss and his team is that they get to pursue the vision they want to pursue (though it's true that we've had some mixed messages about whether that's always in fact been true in DH's case). And I would love to see a reversal of fortunes and new life breathed into the project. I tell those acquaintances who know me to be a Whedon fan and who ask that DH is worth investigating, and that it has intriguing ideas, a great cast, etc. (I even get the station and time right.) And, all that said, Dollhouse continues to leave me cold, alas.
Dollhouse is no worse than most television programs and at times is much better than average. Therefore I hope it is allowed some breathing space to live up to its tremendous potential.
If Dollhouse fails and is taken off the air I do not think it likely that Whedon will automatically have something new to do. I doubt entertainment companies are lining up to throw money at him to produce more shows in the somewhat ghettoized science fiction/fantasy genre in hopes that lightning will strike again as it did with Buffy.

As an aside, this is the first Whedon show I have seen while it is being broadcast. I missed Firefly and Angel and didnt see Buffy until the series finale (which was great and even better when I watched the whole series and knew who all the characters were. :) ).

[ edited by wouldestous on 2009-10-06 06:20 ]
What silent knight said.

"Paint a Starry Night again, man."

And I hafta say this - much as I have enjoyed the cozy quality of the Firefly Found Family and that of the Scoobies, etc., I don't have it as a requirement in all the art I enjoy. It can be... broadening to learn to enjoy a wide variety of art - from the bleak to the adorable - and not need to hold someone to a particular kind or style of creation.

I get if folks don't like Dollhouse for any number of reasons - everything can't work for everybody - but if the reason is that it doesn't have the comfy cosy family quality of Buffy or Angel or Firefly, then they are shutting themselves off from a whole world of art experience.
"Sergeant Pepper's II: Better cos They're Not Lonely" ;).

I can understand people having issues with the show as a whole (though I still think the quality has been trending up and 'Vows' was truly excellent TV). But yeah, it's a bit inconsistent in quality and for whatever reasons (I think they're good ones personally but mileage varies) there aren't too many characters (in the person sense) to root for (yet) and there isn't a team dynamic (yet) - if people want that then they're not going to get it from 'Dollhouse' and expecting folk to wait 15+ episodes for something they wanted and expected from the start would be too much. Now IMO, wanting and expecting that was wrong too but that's because I personally don't want or expect to see that in every TV show I watch. But again, mileage varies.

It's a tiny bit of a shame that some (a tiny portion, really) of those that love the show seem to have a bit of a need to question the intelligence of people who don't love it (that much yet), but so be it. Maybe I'm reading to much into things.

I think that's a problem on both sides the Groosalugg with e.g. those that don't like it claiming that only they "know" it's not working, as if they have some special insight, whereas those that like it are presumably kidding themselves.

(and yep, I realise I apparently claimed a "special insight" when I talked about people unable to separate their feelings and wants from what the show might be trying to do but to me that's not that special which is partly why i'm puzzled by that response. I mean, that's such a common complaint - the identifiable character thing or the camaraderie thing - that it surprises me that more fans don't seem to believe that Joss might also have realised that i.e. that it might well be deliberate. Now it's still fine to dislike that aspect and therefore stop watching, it's just the implication that the creators have got it wrong because they're not writing a good family dynamic that irks me. It is and always was a workplace drama. They've got it different IMO, not wrong)
saje, in the end people like they like and don't like what they don't like, and the reasons are always unique to the person. Much of the comments offered up in this thread sound sort of defensive- well, you have your reason for not liking the show, but those reasons are not my reasons, etc. Yes, this is so. I am stating the obvious because it is not really all that obvious; the only thing that is, is that this show is not really clicking in the way so many people here would like it to. For those for whom it does not click, they have their reasons. Mine are that I have no one to invest in, no one to care for- this is my entry into the world of any TV show. I rue the loss of a team dynamic, that we do not get to see the dolls interact as themselves, only as voids or as actives. This is a problem for me. I suspect it is a problem for others. I suspect some people really don't want to watch a dark show where they cannot trust the goodness of anybody because we have seen that people we thought were real turned out to be dolls. Yes, I know some of you, canny viewers all, may like this; the mainstream TV viewer may not. Neither of you are wrong, and neither needs to justify that like or dislike; you like what you like.

In any fandom, one of the more fascinating aspects of a fandom is the emotional investment some of the fandom members have in it. I have referred to this in the past; for example, with the GSR shippers of CSI adamantly and at times extremely angrily hating the character of Lady Heather, and anyone who would support her as a character on the show. We have seen this in past Spuffy v. Bangel arguments. I often ask why it is that people can get so wrought up over a question which has no answer save the one you construct for yourself. Respectfully, I see that here to some degree, an attachment so close to the work Joss does that it admits no consideration outside that attachment. I see everything brought up for consideration save that the show itself has flaws people do not like- it is the lead in, it is the lack of advertising, it is everything but the show itself, as if to admit that Joss created a show that is not popular is somehow an attack on my very being- I identify so closely with him and his work that I have to find an alternate explanation or it somehow threatens the view I have of myself. Is this true across the board? Of course not. But there is an identification even here, on this most intelligent and urbane of boards, where moderators actually moderate and posters give thoughtful and impassioned responses. And I do not exclude myself from this criticism and analysis, for I have obvious emotional attachments with Tara that I cannot even explain to myself.

If DH fails, the world goes on. Joss will do fine, we will fine, and we will discuss other issues. Life is change.
You of all people are saying (basically) "It's just a TV show, not the end of the world, get over it" Dana5140 ? Well, the irony made me smile so thanks for that ;).

I rue the loss of a team dynamic, that we do not get to see the dolls interact as themselves, only as voids or as actives. This is a problem for me. I suspect it is a problem for others.

Well, given that the article's author and at least two people just on this thread have explicitly stated that's a problem for them I think we can move beyond "suspect".

Re: darkness/unsympathetic characters, I doubt anyone wants to see that exclusively on every TV series they watch BUT Joss has already given us 12 and a bit seasons of TV stuffed full of likeable characters, where "found families" are at the centre of the action and the vast majority of TV shows feature team dynamics, camaraderie and likeable characters. I guess I just don't see the problem with having one show where even the good guys aren't necessarily that likeable and everything's murky. 'Dollhouse' was, after all, originally intended to be noir and one of the hallmarks of that genre is moral greyness and corruption, even (maybe especially) of the heroes.
I am not saying you see the problem; you don't. I am saying I think others see the problem. That's harder to define. In the end, we really don't have any concrete information about why people are not watching the show, so all we have is speculation.

There is no irony in my statement, saje. I have acknowledged my investment in Tara, and that really impacted my viewing pleasure for Buffy. But it was not the end of my life, you know? I'm invested, of course I am, but not that much. You will not disarm me pointing out the perceived discrepancy. :-)

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2009-10-06 15:47 ]
The irony is in someone who is still talking about that issue and has said that it was very hurtful to them personally (i.e. one definition of not doing fine) saying "Hey ho, tain't no thang, life goes on". I mean you BTW, you get that right ? ;)

I am saying I think others see the problem. That's harder to define. In the end, we really don't have any concrete information about why people are not watching the show, so all we have is speculation.

Err, have you read the article and this thread Dana5140 ?

E.g.
Going back to the comparisons between Whedonís earlier work and Dollhouse, I think Dollhouse lacks a key ingredient that all of the other shows thrived on: Team spirit ... [stuff about how it's not a flaw, except it is] ... one of the truest charms of Firefly, Buffy and Angel was the dynamic of the characters as a group. Without that, Dollhouse doesnít feel as cozy a place to visit as Serenity, the Sunnydale H.S. library or that big, old Los Angeles hotel. Is non-coziness a reason to complain about a show? Eh, maybe not but itís definitely one of the things that sets the series apart from the other shows and one of the things I was looking for when I first started watching Dollhouse. Instead of a great group dynamic, Dollhouse banks on individual relationships between the separate characters and maybe the individual parts just donít equal the whole because Iím not really feeling it.
(my emphases)

or from Satai (with Punsch) upthread:
Some of the critique put forward here have some validity though, and helped me understand what I was missing in Dollhouse. That is, the team work and the synergy in lack of a better word.


or from dispatch upthread:
This sums up the disconnection at the heart of the show. On Buffy and Firefly, the Whedon ensemble was there with a vengeance. The sum of the cast was more than its parts. There was a magic that's impossible to alchemize. Dollhouse completely lacks that.


So the problems other people have with it are pretty concrete and pretty well-defined and we don't have to "think" or "suspect" because they've told us. Unless you mean they may be mistaken about their own reasons for disliking the show ?

(I don't have any issue with those reasons for those people BTW, as I say if that's what you're looking for then 'Dollhouse' doesn't have it - it's not a team spirit show because the characters have none, nor IMO should they in their situation)


ET s/i/e/

[ edited by Saje on 2009-10-06 17:07 ]
In any fandom, one of the more fascinating aspects of a fandom is the emotional investment some of the fandom members have in it. I have referred to this in the past; for example, with the GSR shippers of CSI adamantly and at times extremely angrily hating the character of Lady Heather, and anyone who would support her as a character on the show. We have seen this in past Spuffy v. Bangel arguments. I often ask why it is that people can get so wrought up over a question which has no answer save the one you construct for yourself. Respectfully, I see that here to some degree, an attachment so close to the work Joss does that it admits no consideration outside that attachment. I see everything brought up for consideration save that the show itself has flaws people do not like- it is the lead in, it is the lack of advertising, it is everything but the show itself, as if to admit that Joss created a show that is not popular is somehow an attack on my very being- I identify so closely with him and his work that I have to find an alternate explanation or it somehow threatens the view I have of myself. Is this true across the board? Of course not. But there is an identification even here, on this most intelligent and urbane of boards, where moderators actually moderate and posters give thoughtful and impassioned responses. And I do not exclude myself from this criticism and analysis, for I have obvious emotional attachments with Tara that I cannot even explain to myself.


This reminds a lot of this wonderful conversation I once had.

It's always interesting when people who are not very fond of the show paint the ones who are as deeply invested in all things Whedon, not the show. Of course, some critics of the show have that same investment in all things Whedon, when they say the show "lacks" some Whedon-trademark or (as you put it) there's a "loss" of something that was never even there to begin with in the show. It goes both ways, and I guess both accounts are wrong. And I guess we are all in way or another sometimes doing it anyway. ;)
Well, there you have it. My point sort of made by you both. saje seems to me to want to take every opportunity he can to try to find some logical flaw in my comment, or some past comment of the more than 1500 I have made, every time I make a new comment, even when I admit I include myself in the analysis. Why? To diminish my comment? What do my comments matter? He challenges whether I have read the comments, when of course I have, and of course note that some people have similar concerns I understand he does not agree with me, and that's fine. But I tire of constantly being put on the spot; it is unseemly. Debate the issue, saje, not the person.

And wisengrund brings up the investment issue as a criticism, when I note I am myself invested and trying to understand why. But I am used to those involved to always attempt to deny any investment of their own. It may or may not be there; I ask only that it be considered. Because, you know, both accounts might be right.
And wisengrund brings up the investment issue as a criticism, when I note I am myself invested and trying to understand why. But I am used to those involved to always attempt to deny any investment of their own. It may or may not be there; I ask only that it be considered. Because, you know, both accounts might be right.


No, yeah, I should have clarified that... what I meant in terms of both approaches being "wrong" is a) what you said about the impossibility of guessing fan-intentions on more-than-individual-statements level and b) using such (impossible) guesses as guidelines to throw at the other group (i.e. the "This show is bad, you should stop loving it just because it's Whedon!" undertone that can sometimes be found online, and the "This show rocks, you should love it 'cause it's nothing like what Whedon has done before!" preachings).

Now, as for a) I think it precludes both accounts from being right per se, bit if we let the generalization-issue aside, then I agree that on a personal level both accounts can be right. I know it happens for me. There are moments where I explicitly deal with the show through my knowledge of Whedon's past, and sometimes I like stuff in it because I say to myself that he's pushing his own boundaries (as I perceive them from his previous work) and sometimes I like stuff because it's "trademark Whedon". Investment happens. And sometimes it's past-bound, sometimes nostalgic, sometimes revolutionary. That's just one regular coping mechanism in dealing with culture.

So I wasn't criticizing the investment issue per se (although I am wondering how the show could "lose" something it never had, but that's not criticizing, that's wondering... ;). I was criticizing that some people who don't like the show can't see a way for those who do (And There's That Generalization Again(tm)) to actually like the show. Same thing with the statement that people (ATTGA(tm)) blame everything else except the show.

I guess after all it is just that generalization-thingy that bothers me. :D And we seem to agree on that, so I'm not putting you on the spot here. Sorry, if it seemed that way.
Dana, you are introducing an awful lot of personal stuff into these discussions to then be sensitive about it when someone argues back. Keeping the debate on the issue is a two-way street, and arguing from personal experiences a lot does tend to lead to debate where one person feels put on the spot.

That said, if you two can't talk about the show and viewer responses to to rather than each other, take it to email.
In defense, SF, the only way I can argue is from personal experience; that's all I or any of us really have. Point taken, though, and I will be careful in crafting my comments, or will, as you say, take it into email.
ETA: Well, there's also facts available to us when arguing.

And I hope I am Sunfire (in this instance Dana5140's response) since I haven't insulted anyone on here (or not intentionally anyway) and have tried to "play the ball".

saje seems to me to want to take every opportunity he can to try to find some logical flaw in my comment

Well yeah, isn't that how a discussion/debate/argument works Dana5140 ? You make a point and I either agree or form a counter-argument (possibly by finding a logical flaw in your comment). You do the same and round we go. Likewise if, as I see it, you seem to be applying a double standard purely on the basis of your own personal likes/dislikes i'm gonna call you on that. Seems fair enough, no ?

You said "I am saying I think others see the problem. That's harder to define. In the end, we really don't have any concrete information about why people are not watching the show, so all we have is speculation." and my counter-point (with quotes and several examples of why people aren't watching the show - or enjoying it much if they are - in both the linked article and the comments in this thread) was that it's actually pretty concrete and well-defined. How is that not arguing the point ? And how is it not a valid inference therefore that you may not have read the comments or the article (or maybe just skimmed) since a straightforward rebuttal of your point is right there in the article and comments ? In other words, whether we know why people dislike the show isn't the issue (since we do). You seem to be trying to make nebulous and vague what has been plainly stated several times both here and elsewhere.

Or if you're making some other point (e.g. maybe you mean why people didn't watch in the first place i.e. at all, from the S1 premiere onwards) then fair enough, point out my misunderstanding and then we move on to other points (or not).

I was criticizing that some people who don't like the show can't see a way for those who do (And There's That Generalization Again(tm)) to actually like the show.

Exactly. The show isn't merely "not their thing" for some people, it's actually a failure as television because it's not their thing and anyone that's enjoying it is kidding themselves that it's good when it actually isn't (as if something actually being good or bad has any objective meaning and only they know what it is). That's what irks me, not whether they like it or not, hell, that comes with the sickle.

[ edited by Saje on 2009-10-06 19:17 ]

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