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November 15 2009

"I'll still get hate mail and death threats". Preston Beckman, executive VP of strategic program planning at Fox, comments on the Dollhouse cancellation.

What does this guy expect a hug and a kiss. The execs at Fox never give a potentially great show a chance ie Tru Calling Point Pleasant and dare l say Firefly. Wake up you execs at Fox!
What does this guy expect a hug and a kiss.

I think it's safe to say there's a rational middle ground between "a hug and a kiss" and "hate mail and death threats". A middle ground most of us wish everyone would join us on.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-11-15 01:40 ]
Meh. He said pretty much the same thing when Fox stated they would air all 13 episodes (is that still going to happening, by the way). I'm still pissed.
(is that still going to happening, by the way)

It is as of the cancellation announcement, at any rate. As ever, of course, if running the rest of them turns into a complete disaster for them, they have every right to change their minds.
"The execs at Fox never give a potentially great show a chance ie Tru Calling Point Pleasant and dare l say Firefly. Wake up you execs at Fox!"

You can't say that. Firefly was a totally different story. Dollhouse it's good, but not nearly as good as Firefly and, even if it was, what matters is the ratings and the ratings for Dollhouse suck. They gave it a second season and it kinda didn't deserved it, so... you should be happy with what you got.

Of course, if Dollhouse aired Monday-Thursday it would be a totally different story.
They gave Tru Calling, and Dollhouse, a second season so they did give them a chance. Fact is the show didn't get enough viewers. Fox need viewers to get advertising. Fox need advertising to pay the bills.
While one can argue (and I do) that they could have promoted the show better/more the did not cancel Dollhouse because they hate Joss.
I think you can argue Fox mispromoted the show, both for its launch and especially its relaunch. But they also renewed the show when no one thought they ever would.

Comparing it to those other shows doesn't make much sense. Tru Calling and Point Pleasant were terrible. Even as they improved (slightly) they never achieved the kind of critical acclaim Dollhouse is getting now.

Plus, as Joss mentioned, the people who were there when he made Firefly aren't there now. Do we honestly think Fox has some sort of network-wide missive to cancel good shows or screw with Joss? They are a business. They cancel shows when the shows aren't profitable. No one's watching Dollhouse.
Yeah. I have qualms with Fox's advertising, but they did give Dollhouse a chance to grow an audience. They can't be blamed in a Firefly-esque way.
Yeah, they were more than fair to Dollhouse. Rather than hate mail, it'd be nice if people would drop them a line thanking them for giving the show a second chance, even if it didn't work out.
The lone comment in "Talkback" towards the bottom of that web page is killing me, it's so funny. Talk about turnabout is fair play. It's re CBS and Moonlight star Alex O'Loughlin. No network is infallible when it comes to hurting the fans.
Interestingly I've not seen anything really scathing on the dollhouse twitter search feed. I'd actually be surprised if he got any death threats at all!

Of course Fox gave the show a chance. Admitedly they didn't promote it well, but the show itself was never exactly an easy hit either. I loved the show, I wish we had more, but dude, anyone sending out death threats is mental.

[ edited by bubblecat on 2009-11-15 10:04 ]
b!X said:
"It is as of the cancellation announcement, at any rate. As ever, of course, if running the rest of them turns into a complete disaster for them, they have every right to change their minds."

And Fox has insured that December's showings of Dollhouse will be a complete disaster by publicly announcing that the show has been cancelled while it is off the air in November (I'm guessing they already know what they want to air in December instead).
But all in all I wasn't expecting more than these 13, which I trust I'll see on DVD even if Fox decides not to air them. I'm not sending hate mail (and I never send death threats) because I'm not surprised that the show wasn't picked up, but I am disappointed that they had to publicly announce that the show was cancelled now.
Interestingly I've not seen anything really scathing on the dollhouse twitter search feed. I'd actually be surprised if he got any death threats at all!

I've seen hate tweets for sure, and at least one wish for death. It's mainly hyperbole, but still asinine and inexcusable. Also, despite TVbytheNumbers playing this up earlier today, not representative of the fandom.
Death threats are over the top, but boo hoo, they're getting hate mail. Fox was really passive-aggressive with the show, or else just incompetent.

I'm also one of those weirdos who thinks Dollhouse is a far superior show to Firefly.
I'm sure that if Fox had treated Dollhouse like they treated Fringe last year that Dollhouse would be a lot more successful than it is right now, but they chose to put all their faith in Fringe and then Lie to Me and never even gave Dollhouse a shot. In my eyes, it's bad promo and the complete lack of promo that are the reason Dollhouse has such awful ratings. So really, I don't know how it's possible to go and thank Fox (the network, not the studio. I know they've been supportive) for giving the show a chance or more than it deserved when it's completely Fox's fault that it never got the ratings to begin with. Fans and positive critical buzz can only do so much to reach the general viewing public who don't pay attention to internet stuff as much as the die-hard fans do. Fox needed to put some effort into getting the show out there and they didn't even try.

I won't send hate mail, but I'm certainly not going to thank Fox for something they never did. I'm still pissed off at how Dollhouse has been treated, regardless of the unexpected second season. 26 episodes are still way too few episodes for a show as good as Dollhouse, especially when it seems like it only has the potential to get better and better the deeper in that it gets. I was excited about seeing how we go from where they are now to the future in Epitaph One. That journey would have been amazing TV and now it will never happen.
So look at it as a business decision then: they renewed a low-performing (but critically-acclaimed in its latter half) show then did absolutely nothing to improve those ratings.

I'm happy for the bonus episodes, but that doesn't make Fox any less incompetent.
Fox would have looked less....Scrooge-ish...if it had aired episodes five and six on December 4th before making a decision on the show's future. Jumping the gun like this, and saying leftovers on Friday are better than nice fresh drama, makes Fox programming look bad.
But not as bad as whoever is in charge of promoting Fox shows, that is.
Beckman's got a sense of humor and is just acknowledging that passion of Joss' fanbase. Anyone reading more into than that is overreacting.

We may have wished FOX had invested a bit more in advertising this season, but I don't see how this show would have ever been a ratings winner. And it isn't like we have heard any huge DVD success stories (ala Firefly) either. If even the die hard fans are not clamoring to own it, how is the network expected to think the viewership could possibly grow to acceptable levels?
One True b!xl that line was said in sarcasm not to be taken literally.
Depends what you mean by "ratings winner." I don't think this is a "Lost" but I do think it could have had a stable audience of a 1.5 demo if they'd bother to go looking for it. And honestly, if they didn't think it were possible then I'm at a loss on why you wouldn't have put it on FX in the first place.
@Zee -- given what Torchwood writer James Moran had to deal with as a fan response to Children of Earth (MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR CoE), it's not like this sort of thing hasn't happened before.

Which doesn't make it right, just not unprecedented.

Frankly, while I think hate mail is incredibly counterproductive, when it gets to actual death threats, it's over the line -- hyperbole or not.
Dollhouse would have never fit with the FX brand. Completely wrong place for it. Not sure where it really would fit. Would have loved to see it paired with Fringe on a Tuesday, but that was probably too expensive a gamble.
There's absolutely no way to know whether or not Dollhouse would've achieved the success needed for FOX to keep it on the air long-term even if they HAD aired it on a different night or 'treated it like they treated Fringe', and anyone who thinks otherwise is simply rationalizing their refusal or inability to recognize that FOX can, logically and rationally, in no wise be blamed for DH's 'failure', particularly when they gave the series a second chance when the really had no reason or obligation to do so.

Re Beckman's comment: It's a really sad state of affairs when a comment made sarcastically is actually representative of a situation that could feasibly occur (fans sending him hate mail and death threats).
I just want to thank Reilly and co. for living up to the faith I had in them and irritated you all by repeating endlessly. The marketing wasn't always what I hoped (giving it spots during the massively popular House season opener was nice, though), but they gave it more of a chance than it wouldve gotten elsewhere. Thanks, folks! Onwards and upwards. If this crew had been running Fox during the Firefly days, we would be discussing which FF Season 2 eps were our faves.
Fuckyeahzeitgeist! Oops, wrong thread ;).
Grrr... Argh...

My point wasn't Fox should have shown Dollhouse on FX. My point was, the fact it was allowed to air at all is an indication that Fox felt on some level the show could have succeeded. Otherwise, they would have stopped production entirely. Would FX have been a good place for it? I couldn't tell you because it wasn't the point I was making other than it's a Fox cable channel.

Digific your statement on reads a LOT into people who are making statements for a variety of reasons. But on the surface, the statement "in no way (I'm editing for you) be blamed for DH's 'failure'" is just as one-sided as a Dollhouse fan's insistence that the show had nothing to do with it. Also, you might want to check "no reason or obligation" because there obviously was a reason. Reilly is not throwing darts in that office.

I'm thankful that Reilly tried. And I'm usually vocal in defending Fox related to this show. I just don't believe in an easy "it's the show" or "it's the network" argument. They're too interdependent.
The 2nd season was a gift. Purely a gift. I think Fox thought that it would have to (and possibly could) succeed on its own merits without a huge investment on their part in advertising. They were wrong. Should they have thrown more money at it? None of us really know if it would have been worth it and pay off in viewers.

I can't wait to see the rest of the season and then to treasure it on DVD.

Next!
So look at it as a business decision then: they renewed a low-performing (but critically-acclaimed in its latter half) show then did absolutely nothing to improve those ratings.

I'm happy for the bonus episodes, but that doesn't make Fox any less incompetent.


...As I recall, they said that they would be content if DH were to at least maintain its audience numbers from the first season.

It didn't. Poor advertising of the second season explains the lack of audience growth, but it doesn't explain the dissappointingly consistent audience drop off seen since the second season premier - the ultimate reason for the show's cancellation.
azzers: Okay, maybe I should've just said that Reilly had 'no obligation' to give DH a second chance, since he clearly did have his reasons for making the decision.

Regarding your comment about my statement about the network bearing no blame for DH's failure being one-sided, however, I disagree, primarily because said statement is based WHOLLY on the facts we have in front of us concerning the network's support of DH (yes, there are probably things that the net could've done better with regards to advertising/promoting DH, but that's really neither here nor there) - facts, I might add, that completely back up what I said.

[ edited by DigificWriter on 2009-11-15 05:40 ]
If I had his email I would tell his (I almost said a cuss word, Simon) off. Even though I understand the decision, Joss Whedon should be given special consideration, for being Joss. But I guess that was what season 2 is.
The facts are only these. The numbers for Dollhouse declined. Those are uncontested. Fox renewed it for a second season. Uncontested. Fox very little promotion outside of the internet. Again, I don't think that's being contested. That Fox regularly advertises its popular shows is also not something I think anyone would contest either.

The reasons however, are not facts. They are suppositions we're all making based on what we think. Those thoughts are not objective as we are offered no mechanism in reality to test them.

For example, I don't get to see Dollhouse with advertising to validate my theory.

You do not get to see Dollhouse fail next to Fringe to validate yours.

Was Dollhouse doomed to failure no matter what? To me, that is as much of a guess as saying advertising would have helped. But them's the breaks in reality. So is your argument based on facts? Of course. But so are the arguments of the people you're arguing with.
My favorite quote about network tv:
I'd hate to be a development person and place bets on which comedy horse is going to win the race. But some comedy horses, you break their legs. That's where it gets kind of weird. Or I've been in the situation where you're riding the horse they bet on, and at some point in the race they start shooting at the horse. But wait, you bet on me! Why are you trying to kill me? ~Andy Richter

azzers: Actually, I would disagree that the arguments of people who are blaming DH's failure DIRECTLY on FOX are based on the facts alone; I would consider said arguments to be based on an emotion-influenced interpretation of the facts rather than on the facts themselves.
Honestly, these have been done to death and we are now firmly off topic so I think I'm going to drop this. Since I started the tangent, it's my fault. I can feel myself ramping up for an entire multi-paragraph argument and I don't think anyone wants that. I'm wordy enough.

[ edited by azzers on 2009-11-15 06:30 ]
azzers: I wouldn't say we're quite as off-topic as you think we are, but if you want to drop the subject of how much blame FOX does or does not deserve for DH's failure, I'll go along.

At any rate, I do agree with those who have said that we should find a way to show FOX our thanks for the faith they did show in DH (even if we don't entirely agree on the degree of faith they showed in the series).
@Butler -- the problem with sending hate mail (cuss-filled or otherwise), is that it reflects badly on all genre fans and likely makes networks even more wary of greenlighting future genre projects - Whedon or otherwise.

As a fan of any show -- genre or otherwise -- that gives good story, sending hate mail only makes it more difficult to get ANY quality shows on the air.

And wasn't the original argument in favor of trying to keep Dollhouse on the air that it was quality programming?
I still think that joss best work is not that accessable for the public. He might change that, but than I would probably not love his work any more.

This guy's work at FOX is to make money, and from that perspective they have already shown a lot of trust into dollhouse.

Still dreaming, that finally joss will be able to work out his own network free enviroment, to bring out his stories.
Hate mail, yes. Death threats, no.
Aww, poor Andy Richter. Heard that Andy Barker PI (w/ Jane Espenson episodes!) is getting released on DVD soon?

Anyway, while I can kind of see people getting annoyed Dollhouse is getting canceled but I'm not quite certain many people care enough for death threats. The most passionate fans online seem to be all about the series' high concept and ramifications of it, which seems a bit smarter than visceral bitterness.

Somewhat on that point though, I'm not quite sure who thought it would be smart to inform anyone involved with the show that they're already canceled. Did it leak through twitter and they had to put out a press release making it official, or did the release come first and then was just confirmed? I'll grant them that it's kind to go ahead and keep making episodes but announcing this before rather than after/during the time when they're burning off all the episodes in December... Seems like they could of at least kept up a pretense of making it seem like that mattered.
I do have to wonder what it would have been like had Fox's PR department been actually competent. I would guess and this is just me, that they cost the show a couple of hundres thousand viewers due to their Keystone cop approach to promoting the show.

The season 2 promotion material was full of basic errors, did the PR department even care or actually fact check the material before it was sent out to journalists? If I wanted to be completely fan paranoid, I could wonder that the PR division were told back in September "don't put too much effort into selling season 2, we're canning the show anyhow".
My paranoia doesn't go quite that far, Simon, but it seems obvious that they were told that Dollhouse was absolutely last on the priority list. Somewhere after Cops and America's Most Wanted.
Yeah, the flat-out factual errors sort of outed its low priority. If you're not even publicizing correct air dates and times, you obviously haven't been told to consider promoting a given show important to the higher ups.
TNT saved Southland ?
Simon - that's what my understanding of it is. Not that I have any actual hard evidence, but it's what the facts seem to suggest to me.

B!x - agreed. It's hyperbole on twitter, I'm still wondering if he's actually had anything sent in the post. Well, not wondering, just a bit curious I suppose.

I support neither hate mail or death threats in any form of communication. Sure, write an angry blog.

TamaraC - Thanks for the clarification on Preston's tone.

Just wondering if we should sent this guy a cake too...just to balance things up for him!
Anyone who sends death threats (in whichever medium) over a TV show is an idiot. I doubt any sane person disagrees with that.

Hate mail, depending on what "hate" means, is maybe more understandable (though not in this case IMO) but it's still about feeling hurt and wanting to lash out, so still kind of childish. It's not going to bring the show back, it's not going to make Beckman (or any other exec) more likely to renew a show that's not making money in the future so it achieves very little.
Insert heartless comment.

I'm done.

Also, everything that Aphrodite says, I agree with.

[ edited by ShanshuBugaboo on 2009-11-15 13:12 ]
I bet he's gotten maybe one and is blowing it out of proportion to make the whole fandom seem insane.

Or, as has been noted, he's just being sarcastic. And say he was just some random person you didn't know who'd had death threats, would you say "Boofuckinghoo, get over it" to them ? Assuming not, why is it any more justified to say it to Preston Beckman (i.e. another random person you don't know) ?
I don't think that Fox PR dept was told not to bother with the show, but I suspect that as in any large organisation once a project gets an "aura" of failure about it then everyone starts disassociating themselves from it, so that when it is eventually cancelled they can say "See? I was right. It was rubbish!"
Anyone who goes out on a limb and supports the show risks getting some of the stench of failure on them, and that they don't want.
So it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. The network people don't support it because they think it's going to fail and it fails because the network didn't support it. The impression I get is that the guys at the top supported the show but that many people lower down didn't.

Also, as has already been said, the PR snaffu's can be blamed for not getting millions more people to watch. The people that did watch but then decided not to bother carrying on watching are another matter.
I agree with Saje. That was awfully harsh and heartless, and isn't that what some folks have accused Fox of being a few times? Let's say for the sake of argument, it IS just one. Why should that matter? It's like saying, "I found a piece of glass in my bread, but whatever. I'll keep eating it. It was after all, only one". Plus, though I myself have never received death threats (that I know of), I have recently (a couple months back) received my first and hopefully ever piece of hate mail. It was so vile, it wasn't too far removed from a death threat.

Also, remember how way at the top of this post how Rikardo said the words, "You can't say that." I did the same thing in a chat room not too long ago, and the guy responded, "I can't say that? What are you, Hitler?" I haven't been back there since. So, death threats or no, hate mail can still hurt pretty badly. Unless you know what it's like to receive death threats or hate mail just because someone thinks you suck at your job and they know how to do it better than you do... well, you know the rest.

Personally, I'd be happy to give the guy a cake, if for no other reason than to cheer him up. Just because he has a hand in taking away a free source of entertainment from me, does not mean I shall curse his name and cake-block him. :)
Preston is a sarcastic guy. Anybody who follows him on Twitter will know this. The headline quote here is a little misleading, you could argue, although I doubt anybody cares.

With regards to the advertising - I believe it sucked, and I very kept a close eye on it. I think that, along with some odd business moves, cost them Friday night and Dollhouse. But they're smart guys and I'm sure they know the advertising wasn't all it could have been. Ultimately, I'm grateful the fact we got the show at all, then that we got it again. Yeah, I'm pissed the second season didn't really have a chance, but.. well.. I'm more thankful that we got it at all. Rag on FOX all you want: I don't believe Dollhouse would have got a second season on any other network.

PS: I have his and Reilly's direct email addresses for various reasons, and used it to send them a thank you. I grumbled about how things went down, but it was ultimately a big thank you.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-11-15 12:13 ]
Agreed to all of the above, although let's not kid ourselves, TV shows aren't available for free. Still have to buy a TV, subscribe to cable and all that, buy/rent a digital box nowadays. Even pirating a TV show isn't free. Computer, internet, electricity.

"Cake-block", nice. I like. If only situations more frequently arose in real life to warrant the use of that newly coined phrase.
Exactly what I was thinking. The only thing wrong with "cake-block" is how hard it'll be to work into future conversations. Nice one kungfubear ;).
@Gossi - thanks for contacting Preston and Reilly and thanking them on our behalf. I hope you also pointed out the "haters" don't really represent our community too.

My personal least fave bit of promotion was the "Grindhouse" style advert for the first season when it was a double bill with "T:TSCC". For sure, double feature I see that, but you also invite comparisons to a movie that did not set the box office alight. Revisiting a failed Tarrantino/Rodriguez movie as the basis for advertising, a choice which may be vaguely pertinent to "Terminator" but that has no relation content wise whatsoever to "Dollhouse", seemed beyond bizarre.

I can only imagine the conversation somewhat along these lines:-

A: So how can I get you to watch Dollhouse? I know, have you seen Grindhouse?

B: No.

A: You should it's fabulous. Nothing whatsoever to do with Dollhouse, but it's great.

Ah, well, coulda, woulda, shoulda.

We have NINE episodes left and a superb ARG so I am going to concentrate on enjoying what remains. Spilt milk and all that. Although, I do secretly hope, that the rest of the season is a roaring success and that a bidding war breaks out.

[ edited by viewingfigures on 2009-11-15 12:50 ]
Death threats are not just idiotic, they are criminal, and a entirely different kettle of fish from the most vitriolic of insults and name-calling. I assume if he's actually getting death threats, he's reported them.
Death threats, seriously? Some people need to get a life if they have nothing better to do than sending death threats over a cancelled tv show. That's just way beyond pathetic.

Yes, I am not happy about Dollhouse getting canned either, but I do think FOX has been quite fair and has given it enough chances to find its audience (botched advertising aside). It didn't, but hey, life goes on.
If Joss still feels the burning need to tell us more stories from the Dollhouse 'verse he will find a way, one way or another. He usually does. And we will at least have 2 full seasons on DVD, which is a lot more than other shows (on FOX and other networks) ever got.
I assume if he's actually getting death threats, he's reported them.


Agreed. As there's no call for that sort of thing. And if it's not true and he's been flippant for the sake of it, then an apology to the fandom would be in order.
I second the "what Aphrodite said. especially ....

I won't send hate mail, but I'm certainly not going to thank Fox for something they never did.


What are we supposed to be thanking them for? Announcing a November sweeps schedule, then pulling the show? The lack of decent promotion and a viable time slot? After Fringe would have been ideal. Promoting it like the mediocre "V" has been promoted, would have shown some real support.

And if they don't air the final eps, as promised, I'm going to be a whole lot more pissed off than I already am.

As for the comparison to Firefly re. DVD sales, I've yet to hear anyone mention the economy (in the U.S. at least). I find it hard to believe that I'm the only person who seriously wants the DVD set but actually can't afford it.
When Firefly came out on DVD, I bought three sets without giving it a second thought.
I'm thankful they made another season. Ultimately, I think there were too many faulty business decisions made afterwards which pissed it up a wall - but at least they tried.

I don't think for a second Preston actually had any death threats. He was saying he expects them. I wouldn't have wanted to be on the receiving end of the Terminator fans last season, so I can kinda see why he might think that. I also think the Dollhouse fans are 99.99999% awesome, so we shouldn't be tarred with the same brush.
And if it's not true and he's been flippant for the sake of it, then an apology to the fandom would be in order.

But he clearly said he probably will get death threats. He didn't claim he had received any and there's really no apology necessary for his off-the-cuff comment
My personal least fave bit of promotion was the "Grindhouse" style advert for the first season when it was a double bill with "T:TSCC". For sure, double feature I see that, but you also invite comparisons to a movie that did not set the box office alight. Revisiting a failed Tarrantino/Rodriguez movie as the basis for advertising, a choice which may be vaguely pertinent to "Terminator" but that has no relation content wise whatsoever to "Dollhouse", seemed beyond bizarre.


Welcome to the wacky world of tv advertising. ;)
He didn't claim he had received any and there's really no apology necessary for his off-the-cuff comment


It's the sort of thing that the media and the detractors like to use against the fandom. Admittedly we can be our own worst enemies sometimes but it doesn't help when you have quotes like this coming from senior tv execs. I would hope Fox aren't going to go down the road Universal did post-Serenity.
Now I'm curious as to what road Universal went down, post-Serenity??
They threatened to sue the fans who helped them promote the movie.

It was a dumbass move. We won.
Thanks gossi - and WTF??? Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.
Re: the comment itself, how many times have we seen Joss' comments taken out of context so that they apparently have an emphasis or meaning they actually didn't ? If people weren't so hell-bent on hewing to this fan narrative of Fox as the evil nemesis of all things Whedon they might be willing to extend Beckman the same latitude. No apology seems necessary to me since a) it's an offhand comment likely intended to be facetious and b) if we're honest, he probably will receive hate mail and/or death threats - every fandom has its share of kooks and weirdos, ours is no different.
I gotta agree with everyone in regards to promotion. From what we got here in Australia, on the FOX8 network on cable, there was some advertising, and by "some" I mean, a handful, and by "handful" I mean, two or three t.v spots, usually the day before in the DH time-slot, something along the lines of "Don't forget to tune in, tomorrow night for Joss Whedon's Dollhouse." And that's about it. BUT, we've gotten all kinds of t.v spam for Gossip Girl and a whole new season of Ice Road Truckers, anywhere up to two months BEFORE the new season starts.

To me, it just seems like the PR departments heart wasn't in it. By all means, if you're going to cancel a show, cancel it, but for pity's sake, let it be because the SHOW is shit, not because your PR department can't be bothered doing their job. That would have been the fair thing to do... and also, airing ALL the episodes, not just the ones you like. *cough*EpitaphOne*cough*
Just a thought, the problem seems to be more that the Fox PR people didnt know HOW to advertise Dollhouse. Anything that roams in the realms of sci-fi or fantasy drama I think would be difficult to sell to the mass-market anyways.

I don't think any of us could have hoped Dollhouse to be something that it's not, it takes a certain kind of mind to appreciate the kinds of shows that Joss has put out there, unfortunately, I don't think a mass market will ever be on the same wavelength. That, combined with the times, means cancellation. Dollhouse's cancellation though was a combination of factors, the biggest I do think, being in relation to advertising and the timeslot. Oh and we can all blame the archaic way of measuring audiences also.
We do seem to keep forgetting the fact that the ratings went DOWN over time (and frequently during the second half-hour), which must mean that some people who originally watched stopped doing so. I don't think that can be attributed to bad advertising - surely if they actually liked the show, they would have found their way back to it. I just think that the audience numbers that would sustain the show ratings-wise is not likely to be had on a major network.
I don't think it's out of the question for a Joss show to someday be more mass-marketable. If it's another sci-fi or fantasy show, maybe Joss just needs to introduce the weirdness elements slowly ('cause Lost sure managed to be successful that way and still be genre)...or, since V is proof that you can have ratings success on modern network-TV with genre programming (although I guess "aliens invade!" is an easier sell than what Dollhouse is, or at least it's something that the general audience is more used to), maybe promotion is the key and Fox is mostly responsible for the show not attracting viewers early on/not being visible enough.

[ edited by Kris on 2009-11-15 17:12 ]
I agree with Aphrodite as well. Sure, i'm glad it got a second season but it deserved much more and I reckon the ratings are down to the timeslot and complete lack of advertising. Grateful to Whyiwatch for the amazing work put in on that part. Anyone aware if they've been taking UK fans into account? I'm sure that'd bring the numbers up somewhat.

As for the numbers going down, my guess is that people thought it was good, but not good enough to stay in on a Friday night. I doubt many are aware of just how much better it gets after the first 5 or 6 episodes.

I'm still annoyed at Fox for cancelling Dark Angel as well. I heard James Cameron wanted to do a movie or something to tie up the major cliffhangers but Fox wouldn't let him have the rights to do so.
Baxter, the ratings going down CAN be attributed to bad advertising when Fox doesn't tell when the show will be on (in fact I think they gave out wrong information for the return of Dollhouse). I'm not saying the ratings weren't bad, obviously it wasn't doing very well, I'm just saying that I know people who were having trouble finding it. And I know even more people who were feeling left out of the loop because they didn't buy the DVDs and knew that the unaired Epitaph One episode was a factor in the second season's plot developments. This latter group were figuring they would wait until they had a chance to catch up with netflix, so they weren't even trying to tune in to the show. Of course I have to say that none of my friends are 'Nielson families', so nothing they watched or didn't watch would effect the ratings at all.
The Thank/Don't Thank Fox is an interesting dynamic. Honestly, I do it because on the surface I'm just polite that way. But to be honest, I'm not sure how many other things in this world we would thank someone for if they say they're going to do something and don't even engage in industry best practices to do it.

"Thanks for agreeing to build my house. It's a shame you thought lumber wasn't necessary for the frame. But it looked really pretty until it got windy last Saturday. How did you get it to free stand with just dry-wall anyway?" *high five*

Edited a second time to correct a tear in time.

Edited a third time because the tear still hasn't been corrected.

[ edited by azzers on 2009-11-15 18:28 ]
Oh, boo hoo! What a freakin' drama queen. I've never liked anybody named "Preston" in the first place. Conjures images of fay effetes afraid of their shadows, dining in their penthouses on the latest PC granola snacks, bitterly complaining to their therapists about why they were named "Preston" in the first place. Note to Joss - next time, try a different network, one without fay executives named "Preston."
Well, I never thought we'd get a second season so I'm thankful they gave us one and gave it another chance. I think the concept of the show was just a hard one for some people to get into. Out of all Joss' show's, Dollhouse is my least favorite even though I think it is better than a lot of shows that are on the air.

If Firefly had been given a second chance and a second season I would have been on top of the world. I was devastated when Firefly got canceled and they weren't allowed to finish up the season after it was abruptly canceled. Joss will be able to give us an ending and, for that & the second season, I'm thankful to Fox.
The FOX PR department might not have known how to properly advertise DH, but at least they tried anyway, which is more than can be said for some other series (both on FOX and other networks).

About this whole 'FOX didn't promote DH correctly' thing, I have the following to say:
The claim that FOX didn't promote the show 'correctly' is entirely subjective, and is really a matter of opinion and nothing more. When you start using opinion to justify arguments, you get into very slippery territory.
The claim that FOX didn't promote the show 'correctly' is entirely subjective,


No it isn't. They provided PR material with incorrect dates and facts.
^ Okay, I was not aware of that, but again, I don't think you can blame the entire network for that kind of screw-up (I guess you CAN, but I don't know that you SHOULD).
I think the point is that a PR department normally wouldn't have that kind of error slip through -- and more than once, no less -- unless they've had it made clear to them, whether implicitly or explicitly -- that the project isn't a top priority. So, in the end, it is the network to blame.

We don't know that's what happened. But it's easily within the realm of possibility.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-11-15 20:34 ]
Meh. I'm tired of the corporate scene in general. Here's to independent content creation.

And, to the death threats, that's ridiculous and all those people should be taken out and.... (oh crap).
Digific - Which is why the whole thing is an argument in the first place and not one side with facts and another side just making things up. Same facts, different assumptions.
I think the point is that a PR department normally wouldn't have that kind of error slip through -- and more than once, no less -- unless they've had it made clear to them, whether implicitly or explicitly -- that the project isn't a top priority.

Is that actually the case though or is this an instance of an availability/confirmation bias ? I.e. has it never happened to e.g. "House" or "Bones" or "American Idol" ? Not making a claim either way really, it just makes as much sense to me to blame it on straightforward incompetence (which is still far from ideal obviously). I mean, they've been mishandling it for a while now (the whole "Friday death slot" non management for instance) so that implicit (or otherwise) directive must've been in place since then right ?
I might be reasoning backwards from the trend of Dollhouse's marketing. From crap dates/facts, to placing TV ads during commercial breaks normally preempted by the local affiliates, to non-existent/half-assed use of social media, it's pretty clear it wasn't top of their priority list for use of time or money.

But, no, I can't provide you with documentation to show that FOX hasn't screwed up basic factual information on other shows. I've just never seen anyone mention it happening.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-11-15 22:18 ]
Well, it's not a crazy idea by any stretch. They cut the budget on renewal so we know for a fact that money was tight (which means time too since t = according to Business Algebra 101 ;) and that it was a borderline financial loser for Fox Broadcasting.

I'm just a bit leery of it as a conclusion because I know a lot [more than I ever wanted to] about 'Dollhouse's promotions, announcements etc. and have paid much more attention to it than for any other Fox show (even the ones I watch). Assuming that's the same for most people here then we have a pretty huge asymmetry in available information.
I think we should thank FOX for having the guts to air a new Joss show like Dollhouse, not hate them.
@benoir,

i wasn't gonna send hatemail, I was drunk last night, as most nights. Maybe I would have. But I think I might have just sent a disapproving diatribe.
I love your building a house comparison, azzers! It made me laugh and pretty much sums up my feelings on what Dollhouse season 2 advertising was. A house without wood, indeed.

I still can't believe that they didn't even put Dollhouse trailers and preview clips up on youtube. Would that have even been expensive to do? I admit I have no idea how much any of that costs so maybe with the lowered budget, they didn't have the money for it, but still! It's youtube. Give the fans something to show to their friends on their blogs and websites. I wanted to post clips and trailers to an RP community I'm in with 200+ members every week to hopefully get some new viewers and all I had to to show off Dollhouse with were the fan uploaded 30 second "Next week on Dollhouse" clips.

I'm thankful to those people for uploading that on youtube so that I had something to show people. I'm also definitely thankful for whyiwatch and all the Dollhouse fansites, especially Dollverse. Thank you gossi and whyiwatch for always working so hard to promote the show! Can I send you two a cake?
Fox clearly picked their ponies, and they were Fringe and Glee. Maybe they made the right choice, but it pretty much left Dollhouse doomed from the start.
FOX aired TV adverts (for Dollhouse) with the wrong dates on - I have them recorded. Also online advertising the wrong week (saying 'starts tonight' - a week early). I'm also writing this on a laptop with an official FOX dollhouse wallpaper on - where it says the show is on at "8PM". The EPK also said the 2nd season started in February. Also 2 of the 4 episodes of season two had clips sent to press which included sounds like crew members walkin' about, muffed sounds, bad edits etc - as early cuts were dispatched on the day the episodes actually aired (so the eps were network delivered by that point). FOX staffers also tweeted and Facebook'ed links out of the official channels with incorrect airdates on.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-11-15 23:52 ]
How are these people not fired?
Why would they be fired? To be fired they'd had to have bungled something they were told to make a priority and pay close attention to. They merely bungled something they likely were never told to give their best to.
@ DigificWriter:

Try telling that to the die-hard HP fans last August when Warner Brothers delayed "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" to this past July. Alan Horn and the WB execs got tons of death threats and hate mail within minutes of the announcement hitting the news sites.

Whether its Harry Potter fans or Jossverse fans (both incredibly passionate fandoms), hate mail and death threats aren't going to sway a company's decision once they've made it. Not to mention that, again, it's incredibly counterproductive.
b!x, how do you know that they were told that? I think that in most companies, if the PR people made that many mistakes, they'd be reprimanded.

On the other hand, if they were told that, it just backs up my not thanking Fox sentiments.
I don't know they were told anything. As I keep saying, it's simply my assumption based upon the full range of little-to-no-effort at marketing the show. Given the wide range of failure on that count, the most likely explanation is it simply not being a priority.
Mcjw_serenity: I don't remember hearing about HP fans getting angry at WB for delaying HBP (I'm a member of the HP fandom as well). You are right, though, that passionate fandoms tend to get a little more 'reactionary' than is probably warranted sometimes.
What confuses me about Dollhouse cancellation is just that it got a second season in the first place. They clearly had reservations on the show from the start, but wanted to give it a shot, and we got the entire first season (sans Epitaph One aired on TV in the US, but I digress).

So we get the second season, and Fox KNOWS that Dollhouse barely squeaked by (to put it mildly) in terms of ratings, and yet... they didn't really do much at all to make it a success. They just kept it where it was on Fridays and had some real low level crappy marketing for it.

Why bring it back at all? Why not just axe it and save the time and money? Did they expect the fan base to get all worked up and try and self-promote the show themselves once they got a second season? Is it really that the just had no clue how to market the thing, or is it like zz9 said and there were people within the organization who felt like it would fail and so didn't want to get associated with it (not sure how that works, but I can imagine)?

Yes, ratings were dropping consistently, but I'd think that if you like a show enough to bring it back, you'd do EVERYthing you can to make it succeed, so that if it does fail you can look back and say that it truly wasn't your fault.

Thanks for the second season, but if you're not gonna get fully behind it, don't bother.
I don't understand all the complaining. Fox gave us a second season as a gift. Did they goof up in promoting it? Maybe, but even if they did, do you complain about gifts because you don't like the wrapping paper? That would seem rather ungracious. Ok, so maybe that's a lame analogy. I'm moving on, s'all I'm saying.

The most important question, IMO, is what Joss's next project will be. As I recall, he said we'd know by the time the last DH eps aired right? I really really really hope it's gonna be a tv show or ongoing web series. And I hope it will start airing really really soon. I'm actually more excited about the prospect of new projects than I would be about more Dollhouse. I'm totally ready for something new!

Woohoo!

[ edited by Squishy on 2009-11-16 06:43 ]
@Squishy - THANK YOU!!! Really good analogy, I thought.
...do you complain about gifts because you don't like the wrapping paper?

No, but you might complain if the giver threw it at you from a passing car so that it landed at your feet smashed into pieces.
I agree that Dollhouse-PR was definitely not a top priority. But I think there's a difference between a general budget-and-effort-division that separates top priority ("American Idol"? "House"?) from low priority ("Dollhouse"? "Brothers"?) and a mandate that these low priority cases can even screw up the little attention that they get. I think Fox PR definitely put Dollhouse near the bottom of their To Do-lists. Still, the little work they actually wanted to do with it, they screwed up. I don't think there was a mandate for that, so if I were Fox, I'd be not happy with my PR department.
How about this, which I haven't seen mentioned. The last week of October, the Sunday TV supplement in my daily newspaper featured Dollhouse on the front page. The caption read "November sweeps: catch Joss Whedon's newest hit."

This supplement isn't just for my little town newspaper, it goes out with all Stevens Media owned newspapers, which are all over the western U.S.
The full page article inside featured information that obviously came from a Fox press release, including November air dates that had already been canceled, by the time this newspaper was delivered.

Mishandled promotion? for whatever it's worth, I don't see how that can be in question.
I think the Sunday television supplements get put together just far enough ahead of time for them not to include sudden and new information.

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