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November 13 2009

Was it right to axe Dollhouse? Digital Spy tracks the highs and lows of the show's short life.

And if you've found any interesting blogs/articles about the show's cancellation do post them in the comments section?

FYI there's a poll at the end of the article.
Well, of course my answer is no, it wasn't right. We need more Dollhouse!

Also, RE: "If Summer Glau can't save the show, who can?" - we haven't even seen Summer on the show yet! Those episodes were the ones, y'know, pushed back for sweeps.
The timeline's not a bad idea but yeah, a few inaccuracies/misrepresentations (Summer wasn't in the premiere so the question should really be "If the knowledge that Summer Glau will appear at some point in the future can't save a show ... ?"). It's also arguably misrepresentative to state that the season premiere ratings were bad without also mentioning that (going by Twitter and a few posters on here) even some fans apparently didn't know the season premiere was airing (presumably due to poor promotion).

As to "Was it right to axe Dollhouse?" that's actually two implied questions IMO i.e. "Are you happy that they axed Dollhouse ?" and "Is it understandable that they axed Dollhouse ?". To the first a resounding "No!" to the second a reluctant "Yes".
Given that before long both Summer and Joss will have free time on their hands (ah euphemisms) maybe now is the time for them to make Serving Girl. I'm pretty keen to see a Joss-made ballet even though I'm not really into ballets generally.

Also, I said this in the cancellation thread but it bears repeating: Ripper Ripper Ripper Ripper Ripper Ripper Ripper Ripper. I'm actually on my knees begging. Come on Joss!
There's probably a third question in there too: Was cancelling Dollhouse financially sensible for FOX? It's different from whether it was understandable because, of course, a decision can be understandable but still ultimately wrong. Obviously, we don't have the information we need to say but the answer is probably also a recluctant yes

I love Dollhouse but I'm trying to think of the positives and a Joss Whedon off his leash can only be a good thing. I'm very, very excited to see what he does next
My greatest fear is that this is the last TV show he's ever going to do. Because as great as movies and internet ventures are TV is my passion and it always will be. I love having, for example, 144 episodes of BtVS to choose from when Im bored. I love doing marathons and watching the slow evolution of characters and ideas. And a big part of my passion for TV was Joss Whedon so Ill be really upset if after DH he gives up completely.
Never's a long time. Too early to count those chickens I reckon.

There's probably a third question in there too: Was cancelling Dollhouse financially sensible for FOX?

Yeah, only they have the numbers needed. But i'd say "Yes" seems a reasonable assumption there too since it seems axiomatic that if they were making money from it they wouldn't cancel it (I guess the thing is, could they have made money from it in the long run ? And again, even then, it'd be a gamble for a long-term pay-off. If DVD sales didn't suggest it was worthwhile then they were "right" not to risk it). None of which is to say BTW, that if they'd handled the show better they couldn't have turned a (financially) losing proposition into a winner. Fox aren't blameless but the fact is they didn't handle it better and so now it is (probably) a financial loser.

Also, I said this in the cancellation thread but it bears repeating: Ripper Ripper Ripper Ripper Ripper Ripper Ripper Ripper. I'm actually on my knees begging. Come on Joss!

'Ripper' would be another studio thing though (albeit possibly a foreign "studio" e.g. the BBC) and also IIRC has rights issues attached. Much as i'd like to see it I doubt it'll be the hinted "next project", just seem to be too many complexities involved.

'Serving Girl' seems more likely (and after seeing Summer dance in T:TSCC I went from lukewarm to extremely keen on that).

Or by "next project" he could literally just mean "what i'm doing next" (rather than a maybe slightly implied "next new project") in which case 'Dr Horrible 2: Thesis of Evil' seems most likely since we already know it's being written (depending on what Nathan and NPH are doing during their summer break next year).
Ripper will simply not happen now. That dish is too cold. ASH is doing so well in his other projects right now, he really doesn't need to dig the tweed out of his attic closet.

Haven't heard of Serving Girl before but I like what I'm hearing now. I could go for another Glau/Whedon collaboration. I still marvel at The Tam Sessions now and again. Unparalleled. Never before and never again will we see its like.

Dr Horrible 2 will happen. It's just a question of when. Of course, almost ten years ago I said the same thing about Ripper.
I think Joss' new project will be a movie based on something entirely new.
I think Saje is right that Ripper won't be Joss's next project. But Zachsmind I'm not convinced that there's no chance of it happening. Only a year ago (two? I've lost track of time) Joss said it was definitely going to happen. So it's not distant memory. I think the last time Joss was asked about it he said 'I'm not NOT doing it'. So it could happen. As for ASH he has said a number of times that he'd be very very happy to do Ripper. So I don't see a problem there. And Ripper isn't something that needs to be now or never. There's no reason why they couldn't make it five years from now. But, yeah, probably won't be happening soon if ever

Zachsmind: Serving Girl is a short filmed ballet that Joss and Summer want to make. Joss is writing it, directing it and scoring it. Somebody else is doing the choreography
I think the new project is Hoctor Horrible 2. I don't see ripper happening.. that Merlin show is doing too well, Tony Head, will be too busy (unless they kill him off).
Why not 'Faith the Series'? You know you'd love it.
well... I'd certainly watch it.. would prefer him to do something not Buffy-verse related though.
Why not 'Faith the Series'? You know you'd love it.


The Tim/Eliza Faith on a motorbike show didn't happen in 2003, can't see it happening in 2010.
I don't see ripper happening.. that Merlin show is doing too well, Tony Head, will be too busy (unless they kill him off).

Nope, since 'Merlin' is a UK TV series it's "only" 13 episodes long - or about 6 Months work if 'Doctor Who' is anything to go by - leaving ASH plenty of time for other stuff. He's always seemed keen on 'Ripper' too, if Joss still is and they can find someone willing to finance it and sort out the rights issues then there's no reason it can't happen at some point.

(in general it's not as unusual for UK actors in an ongoing series to appear on other TV shows/films/stage/etc. as it is in the US for instance, probably because binding contracts to particular shows or channels don't seem to be the norm over here)
why can't they just take it to another network like they did with Buffy back in the day?? I would love to see them move to the CW and put Dollhouse and Supernatural together on the same night. ok so i know that won't happen but i can dream right. Like i'm still dreaming of Firefly coming back!!! Joss If I only had a billion dollars.........
but Fox has really hurt my feelings on this one!! I'm this close to boycotting them!!! Seriously!! (sorry Bones,Glee,SYTYCD)
The Faith series didn't happen the first time because Eliza turned it down.She picked Tru Calling over Faith The Series.I don't see a reason why she would change her mind now.

I would still love Ripper if the stars worked out.But I do wonder if any Buffyverse project outside of the comics can happen now or would be allowed to happen now with the Kuzui's trying to do a reboot movie?

I think Joss's next projects will most certainly be Dr. Horrible 2.I think Serving Girl is possible too.I do also hope Joss will definitely be writing the final Buffy season 8 arc himself.There was some question before if he would be able too due to his schedule.
There was a period where Joss was saying he might get someone else to finish off season 8. But since then he has said a bunch of times that he will in fact write it.
Note that a healthy part of that timeline is before Dollhouse even went to air - and already, Fox was painting it into a corner it couldn't survive. They decided it was a small audience, niche show and willed that perception into reality when they stuck it on Friday night. And ultimately... Fox doesn't do niche shows. It became the red-headed stepchild: poor advertising... erratic scheduling... falling ratings... and sure, by the end, it was a reasonable decision to pull the plug, but you have to remember how things got to that point.

One of Eliza's favorite sayings is, go big or go home. Unfortunately, Fox didn't share the sentiment. I would have much rather seen them stick to the original plan of airing Dollhouse on Mondays opposite 24 and with the original pilot. Yes, it could have gone down in a handful of episodes, but that was the only realistic shot the show ever had to gain a large audience. Look what's happened with V. It's not like genre shows can't produce good numbers given a reasonable chance. Fox Fridays was never that every show they've put there has withered and died. And mark my words, the next one will too.

I'd have loved to see a Faith series, but the window on that one seems to have closed. Eliza hasn't expressed any interest in going back to that character and Joss has moved the Buffyverse on through the comics. Unfortunately, the TV Joss/Eliza project... they've done that now. I can see their paths crossing again for a guest appearance or something short term, but another long term project... no matter how much I'd really, really, really like to see them try again in a different environment, I think it's unlikely. I'd love to be wrong, but they'll both have other options and (I imagine) feel like they've already had a chance to explore this one.
All this talk about our dreams for future Joss projects and I'm the first one to wish for something in the Firefly 'verse? I'd enjoy Ripper or Faith the series as much as anyone but Firefly is my passion and since we're already talking about things that will never happen in a million years...

I know there are all kinds of rights issues with Firefly/Serenity but I've never seen anyone specifically spell out who owns those things and just how much cashy money it'd take to extricate them from their current owners. Firefly direct-to-DVD movies or internet miniserieses or... well, anything really.

Hey, if they can auction off Terminator, they can auction off the Firefly franchise, right? I bet Joss would put up another bid with a whole five zeroes for that... and I shudder to think how much money the fandom could throw together if Joss actually decided to ask for donations/investments to put a real serious bid together.

(I'm purposely not thinking about how busy the actors are with other projects. There is no way in HELL that Nathan would turn it down, and with Joss' genius it'd surely be possible to put together something that worked with only a subset of the crew as long as Nathan was in it. Course, speakin' for myself, I want more Kaylee... but beggars can't be choosers)
Note that a healthy part of that timeline is before Dollhouse even went to air - and already, Fox was painting it into a corner it couldn't survive. They decided it was a small audience, niche show and willed that perception into reality when they stuck it on Friday night.

As I recall, their decision about what to do with the project was heavily shaped by responses from test audiences - not the network exec's own arbitrary perceptions.

And put me on board for a proposed Firefly/Serenity continuation. That universe and its characters are so well grounded that I truly believe even a single member of the original cast would be enough to sustain a new project.

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2009-11-13 17:03 ]
Be careful with using V as an example. TSCC premiered to over 16 million and consistently dropped after that. Good marketing can and usually will help something premiere high, but it's early to be using V as an example that genre programming can survive on network television.

In a related story, on how many shows will Alan Tudyk be giving us "evil face?"
Much as I love the existing Whedon Worlds, I'm most excited about seeing something new (definitely Serving Girl). Dr. Horrible & Dollhouse have proven to me that Joss has a lot more interesting stuff in his head that I want to see. Not just more stories, but whole new 'verses.
There are about three hundred million people in the United States. If ~5% of the population tunes in, you've got a hit. Trying to gauge the relative interest of that 5% through a test audience... good luck. Bottom line, a network has to have faith in its product and the will to sell it. Fox didn't.

V received 14.3 milion viewers in the premier. That's the opportunity for exposure that Dollhouse (4.7) never had. Where V goes from here... it's going off air after four episodes, so it may be a bumpy ride, but the ultimate success or failure is actually irrelevant to the argument.
I agree jcs. One thing has been made very apparent by Dollhouse though. A network can not simply rely on the fans. If Joss makes new art, the fans are going to split whenever he makes a new show. If you only market to that base, prepare to be underwhelmed.

Although I can't think of how this should be news to anyone. It usually happens every time a musician puts out a new album as well.

BringItOn5x5, honestly I agree with you as far as premieres are concerned. I'm just saying that the argument that genre shows can sustain good numbers is something we can't say yet. Heroes certainly didn't. Lost did, but I think many people will debate you if you try to call it genre programming. V is only 2 episodes in.
Not every show on Fox Fridays has withered and died. The X-Files did quite well for itself. Yes, I know we're talking one billion years ago, but I'm not sure Fox knows that.
Was it right to Axe Dollhouse? I respond with an emphatic NO!!!
I'm not that sad about the cancellation anymore. It was justified, and the ratings were terrible. Sure, they could have put it on a Monday. However, it could have turned out the same.

It's not as heart-breaking as losing Angel was. The fact that it was possibly Joss' fault made it worse. Being the #2/3 show on the network after Buffy left, asking for an early season pickup wasn't terrible. But, it could have contributed to the cancellation, and for that, I am annoyed. Also, if they had of got a sixth season, Fred wouldn't have died, and Illyria would have become a separate person. Which annoys me even more. I miss Fred. :|
A show should only be cancelled when it has run it's course creatively. Financial concerns should in no way factor in and is never an excuse for canceling something that is still developing. Money wise you win some and you lose some, it's about your brand, building a trust from your audience that it's worth spending time on your channel. And also if you're not interested in art maybe you should work at a tv station.
Was it right? Depends what you mean. Was it justified? Was it financially sound? Yeah, probably. Am I happy about it? No.

Frick, I'm still upset over losing Angel. Argh.

[ edited by kishi on 2009-11-13 19:07 ]
Everyone is still upset about that. It caused the WB to fail. Maybe if they had Angel, their ratings wouldn't be so bad, and there would be no CW.
Didn't Fox say they weren't going to make a cancel/renew decision until all 13 episodes were produced?

I think the better question, then, is "Was it right for Fox to lie?"
A show should only be cancelled when it has run it's course creatively. Financial concerns should in no way factor in and is never an excuse for canceling something that is still developing.


Sorry, but that's nuts. TV shows exist to sell eyeballs to advertisers. FOX isn't a charity; they're not in business to lose money. Do you really expect a major corporation to shell out a million bucks a week just so you can watch your favorite show that no one else is tuning in to see?
The poll itself is absurd. I've watched the whole DVD set of ep.s (skipped the doc.s) and enjoyed it. I'll get the S-2 DVd. I want as much as I can get.

But a poll asking what I as a viewer want on is silly. If it were up to me, The Jim Nabors Hour and the original The Wild Wild wEst would still be on.

TV is a business. Broadcast networks are a subset of that business, with their own business model. Driven by advertsing revenues, which are stil driven by ratings. Dollhouse didn't really get them and never really would have.
Asking viewers what they want is silly now? Because tv is a business?

I'll grant you that, in the countries where TV is primarily a public sector, it does not necessarily have to care about what viewers want, but can instead care about what they presumably need. But, when TV is a business, it either centers around selling viewers the programming they want directly or around the selling their eyeballs, attracted by attractive programming. It's the viewer's wishes that the whole system is build around. I don't think the viewers wishes are irrelevant. This poll on the other hand...

Anyway, I just skimmed through the Alexis interview highlights and the cancellation (and it's timing) definitely suck if you ask me.

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2009-11-13 21:31 ]
I think Groosalugg is right. In the country where i live only the publicly funded networks can afford to produce fiction programming. This means they order a short season at a time produce it and air it to it's conclusion without exception. And no that isn't nuts, thanfully for a few of us still money isn't the only thing that matters in the world, and no a TV show should not be about attracting advertisers.
If TV is funded by advertising (as it is in the US) then it is about attracting advertisers, that's the simple truth. "Should" is irrelevant, "is" ain't "ought".

I'll grant you that, in the countries where TV is primarily a public sector, it does not necessarily have to care about what viewers want, but can instead care about what they presumably need.

It's not that so much I reckon as it is that publicly funded TV doesn't (always) have to care about what most viewers want. The BBC for instance is basically mandated to produce a wide variety of programming to appeal to different tastes (as well as to educate, promote UK culture etc.). By definition that means you're going to get programmes that only appeal to small numbers of people and that's something you can only sustain through non-commercial funding. Maybe bizarrely, one of the things that makes me most proud of the Beeb (for all its faults, and they're many) is that i'm really not interested in about 90% of what they broadcast. Which means someone else is.

Under the US system there's no room for shows that get 250,000 viewers a week but the flip-side is, there's vastly more money available which means longer seasons, better effects, big guest stars, large ensemble casts, amazing sets and higher production values in general. The BBC could never afford 20-24 episodes of a TV series that cost $1 million per episode (and remember that's after the 'Dollhouse' budget was cut).

Both systems have pros and cons.
"If Summer Glau can't save the show, who can?"
If Paris Hilton, Keith Richards, Big Bird and Dr. House in season 7 can't save the show, who can?!
What's that? The future can't affect the present without some sort of time travel intervention? Ohhhh.

Seriously though I was thinking, does Fox or anyone for that matter own the Firefly universe? I could understand characters being property owned but the universe? Maybe Joss can revisit it with some other characters, I know there is no replacing the ones we know and love but an expansion would be cool and exciting and I remember SciFi(yea that's right, SciFi) saying they wanted something like Firefly. (even though they could have saved the original if they cared enough to begin with, grrr.)
maybe more of us could've stayed home on a friday to watch it live :( i'm sad about this news :(

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