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January 09 2010

Fast National Ratings for Dollhouse 2.11 'Getting Closer'. According to HitFix, the show "fell to a 1.5/3 with 2.38 million viewers and a 0.8 demo rating". What does this mean? Not a lot really.

I think this confirms it, 0.8 percent of Nielson Box users are Whedonites.
It really doesn't mean much of anything these days. Kudos to FOX once again for completely airing this show. I can't wait for the next two episodes!
Yeah ratings are kind of academic now.

I guess we could play tic-tac-toe in here ? I put X in the centre square.
Which means that having a Whedon show on the CW on Fridays would actually increase their viewership?
The CW normally does OK (by their standards) on Fridays with 'Smallville' which performs about the same as 'Dollhouse' but is currently on hiatus.

ETA: The 'Smallville' mentioned in the article is a re-run.

[ edited by Saje on 2010-01-09 19:59 ]
I am really amazed by the fact that Fox is airing these episodes. If November sweeps proved anything, it's that they shouldn't, from a financial point of view. I still can't figure out why they do it.

Either way, I'm happy of course, to not have to wait for the DVD to see them.
The only thing it means is those 2.38 million saw one of The Best Things Ever[tm]. Everyone else missed out.

Also: an O in the top left square.
X in middle left.

(people say this has to end in a draw but I reckon that's just quitter talk ;)

And yep, gotta pity the millions that just don't know what they're missing. Ah well.
I bet Home Entertainment hate FOX for airing them!
whelp, i'll second ABRAMSology and wiesengrund's posts that fox deserves credit for giving us a proper conclusion to the series. it's a pity that the show is going, but it's been a great ride, and i can't wait for the last two episodes.

by contrast, i don't know if anyone other than me ever watched 'defying gravity,' an absolutely fantastic show that was cancelled 8 episodes into it's 13 episode run, and it utterly sucked that the show just dropped off american television without resolution. you had to have connections to canada or the uk just to see the rest of the series.

[ edited by kefka on 2010-01-09 20:38 ]

[ edited by kefka on 2010-01-09 20:39 ]
I know Joss fans can exist in a reality outside the traditional, and I'm using myself in this example (walking the streets of NYC at 4:30 in the morning to get tickets to meet Joss in february. Ossim, but scary.) But I simply can not fathom that only 2.38 million are watching this show. I think the only thing more shady than the Dollhouse is in fact the Nielson ratings. That just can't be accurate. Would anyone like to volunteer to go in as a spy? It's for a good cause.
Given the amount of traffic on Twitter and such compared to - say - Glee... I suspect Nielsen are pretty on the money. The sad fact is just not many people watched. Which isn't surprising considering it was off air for 3 weeks without advertising for the return.
To be fair, they're not going to spend money advertising a show which only has 2 or 3 episodes left.

I know the instinct is to blame Fox, but I can't say that they haven't tried their best and treated the fans with respect this time around.

I think we're basically going to get the same story over 26 episodes that we would have over 150, just without the reams of "Echo dresses up as a ..." filling the middle.

Maybe Joss is just too niche for network TV.
@gossi Actually, the truth of the matter is, the choir does not need (and never needed) to be preached to. It's like Kevin Smith said in regards to Indy 4, "Why are they even bothering with all this extra marketing and promotion? We all know. We're all goin'". My point is, people who love Whedon's work, or Dollhouse (or both) simply don't make up enough numbers to sustain the demands of quality ad revenue on network television, even on a Friday night.

After the first season, Dollhouse was averaging 3 million in the Nielsens, yes? Kevin and the folks at Fox said (roughly), "Okay, we have to cut your budget, but we love this show and want to go ahead with a season 2 and as long as you maintain that 3 mil average, which works well for us on Fridays, everything's nice and balanced".

During season 2, there was a drop-off by at least half, most of the time. This means one of two things. Either those viewers with Nielson boxes left due to outside obligations, or they didn't like what they were seeing now, which is an issue of content, not advertising. I happen to feel that season 2 is far superior to season 1 in terms of that content, but I don't have a magic numbers box in my home, so my opinion doesn't count.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that given the average ratings for most Buffy, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse episodes, there seems to be roughly 3 million Whedon fans with Nielsen boxes out there. If that is the case, then cable is really the only viable option at this point for Joss and company. Near as I can tell, Joss and his work seems to do much better in places like Australia and the UK, but neither of those places are America, and this has more to do with the archaic, skewed, American institution known as Neilsens, so I digress.

As I stated above, content also plays a big part for some Whedon loyalists. While some may love Firefly and its story of the underdogs fighting against a faceless, fascist regime, they may not be so enamored with being confronted with such deep, psychological and ethical discussions about sexuality, which most folks find uncomfortable and "icky" to talk about from the start, especially in Puritanical America. Ironically, I know of one Whedon fan specifically in the UK, who talks extensively on her blog about Joss and his work all the time, but also seems to complain about much of it being manipulative, cliched, objectifying and flat out sexist, especially when it comes to Dollhouse.

Whenever some folks see a particularly solid episode of Dollhouse (which has lately been all the time), these boards light up with comments like, "Stupid Fox!" or, "I HATE Fox!" which I find absurd. Most complaints about false advertising or lack of promotion are irrelevant, especially this close to the end. Dollhouse never changed nights, and even with the Double Bills in December, never technically changed times either.

I could understand if they suddenly moved to Saturday afternoons at 4pm and didn't tell anyone, making it extremely difficult for fans to find the show and keep watching. But it was on every Friday night, except for when it wasn't, and when it wasn't, it was easy to find out. I had the same resources as anyone else, and I had no problems keeping up with the schedule.

So, why get angry at Fox every time one watches Dollhouse? It's not Fox's fault Dollhouse got canceled. They were losing money, even after cutting the show's budget. Instead, we should be appreciative to Fox for not only picking up the show in the first place (which, given its subject matter was a risky venture to start with), but for picking up a second season and airing all of those episodes.

The Nielsen system is clearly broken, so a show like Dollhouse has a difficult chance of surviving within that system. I enjoy Dollhouse, but cable or some independent form of distribution is the better route for Joss and his fellow writers, especially given the types of stories and genres they like to play in.
Oh, there were never enough Whedon fans to sustain Dollhouse. Hence why they needed to advertise it. That is why season two failed. What little promo it has was rubbish - anybody remember the comedy baby death trailer and the adverts with the wrong air dates on?
Gossi, there was also the Windows 7 DH promos which I think we'd all like to forget about...
Also the numbers were down from the first ep in season 2 suggesting lack of promotion rather than audience disinterest. The shows main problem was never that people didn't like what they saw, it was that the majority of potential viewers never got a chance to see it since it was buried in the friday night graveyard slot. Had it gotten the same treatment the less than stellar "Fringe" has gotten from Fox the show would have been a breakout hit.
@gossi @eyeboogers You're implying that had there been more/better promotion behind Dollhouse, that would have brought in enough numbers and saved the show. I'm saying it might have helped, but not nearly enough, because of the content. Fringe is popular for a couple of reasons, and neither one have much to do with its constant promotion. I submit, in point of fact, that the extensive advertising is the effect of the show's success, not the cause.
1. JJ Abrams, having proven himself, both commercially and critically with Alias, Lost and especially now Star Trek can write his own ticket. If he builds it, more than enough will come.
2. Content. Fringe is this generation's X-Files, and we all remember how successful that show became. And, like the X-Files before it, it's essentially a procedural cop show. And, while both contain continuing, expanding mythologies and season long arcs, they are still episodic enough for casual viewers to pick up.

I'll give you an example pertaining to my first comment about advertising versus content: Glee. I love Glee and probably you do, too I'm assuming. A lot of people love Glee. It's become a runaway hit for Fox and a big money maker. For a couple months now (or at least it feels like that long), I've been promoting Glee to a friend of mine, explaining to him how smart, funny and joyful the show is. That matters not for one simple fact: He has an aversion to the show because of its content: He HATES the Glee Club, because of personal experiences in the past.

Even with mention of things like Kristin Chenoweth and Defying Gravity from Wicked (which he adores) aren't enough incentive. The most I've gotten was after mentioning that Joss would be Directing an episode in March, he said, begrudgingly, "Dammit, I guess maybe I am going to have to watch that one."

Now, he may tune in and love it, and hopefully, will watch the show retroactively and then continue forward with it. The point is, he's not watching now and hasn't since the beginning. Think about it this way: Even if Dollhouse has not had enough, proper promotion and advertising, it's often raved about critically, and we here certainly like to tell our friends and family how entertaining it is. So, in a way, it's getting all kinds of good promotion. Great word of mouth, basically. Alas, enough people just still aren't biting, and that may simply be because of the content and subject matter.

Therefore, Dollhouse could very well have had all the top-notch promotion in the world, and to a lot of people, it just would not matter for a lot of reasons. You can't please everyone all the time. I'm sure we can at least agree, Dollhouse will probably gain a cult following, posthumously just like nearly everything else Whedon has done. I'd wager the only thing that's been a hit right out of the gate, and continues to gain a following is Dr. Horrible, which probably has a lot (if not everything) to do with the fact that it was not limited to having to work within a restricting system or distribution, which is why I still think cable or independent production is the way to go for future endeavors.
I thought Fringe was in danger of getting cancelled this season? Haven't the show's ratings been less than impressive?
eyeboogers: The shows main problem was never that people didn't like what they saw, it was that the majority of potential viewers never got a chance to see it since it was buried in the friday night graveyard slot.

I'd say it was a little bit of both.
Firefly was a show that I *had* to watch on Friday nights. Dollhouse was a show that I'd watch if I was not doing something else, and if Fox didn't meddle with the schedule that particular week.

Saje: X in middle left.
(people say this has to end in a draw but I reckon that's just quitter talk ;)

If you are playing Hollywood Squares, you could get the answer wrong and give your opponent that square. Harder to get a draw that way.

kungfubear: I just read what you posted. I was always hoping the series would be spy thriller (Dollhouse intrigue) with the insights into human nature being the surprise seasoning. At least for S1, the promotion (and to some extent, the show) would talk about the premise (programmable people!) without giving another reason to hook people in.

[ edited by OneTeV on 2010-01-10 00:24 ]
@Simon Yes, but to be fair, that was at a time when mostly all across the board, ratings were low for nearly everyone. I think Fringe, at least, has since climbed back up. They're gearing up for an anticipated return from the holiday hiatus next week, I believe.

@OneTeV I find the spy thriller aspects rather entertaining, not to mention more accessible, but the show's main goal has always been more about exploring sexuality. For me, the more satisfying and intriguing elements have been more character-centric in relation to the overall mystery of the Dollhouse and Rossum itself, such as with episodes like Man On The Street, Spy In The House Of Love, Briar Rose, Omega, Belle Chose, Belonging and nearly everything after that. :)
Whedonites to Fox are often like Republicans are to Obama.
I know a lot of Whedon fans who tried Dollhouse, didn't like it and never watched again. I came close but watched out of obligation (Last year. This year is like a whole other show.)
Saje: O in middle right

(I'm no quitter! ;))
And while I don't think that the first 5 episodes were up to part with Whedon's normal shows, I also think may of Whedon's fans felt almost dismayed that it wasn't a more traditional Whedon show from the get-go without ever really giving it a chance. It was never going to be either Firely or Buffy or Angel with a new coat of paint.

[ edited by nuccbko on 2010-01-10 08:55 ]
I'd say the biggest problem was the premiere and subsequent 4 episodes were lackluster and was not Joss' original vision for Dollhouse. If they developed a strong fanbase from the getgo instead of alienating viewers with a mishmash of uncoordinated ideas as a result of Fox's chokehold on Dollhouse, they might have had a decent(nielsen) following right now.
For those interested, Defying Gravity comes out on DVD with the 5 unaired episodes later this month. And Dollhouse S1 won an award for "Best Extras" from Home Video Magazine. It didn't win that for the making of featurette or commentaries. It won because it had an unaired ep. Fox Home Ent would most likely love to get that on S2 as well. Oh well. :)
I'm not going to argue Dollhouse didn't have premise issues. It clearly did. But I think season two did a wonderful job at addressing them, and it's a shame the network didn't get behind it.
It's not just season two that's been great, pretty much everything from Man On The Street on has been (well, minus Echoes, Haunted, and Instinct). But yes, those first five episodes hurt.
I agree with you, gossi.
Yeah, me too (I mean they were behind it to some extent obviously, what with allowing them to be made and aired but it's surely telling that - according to Twitter - quite a few fans didn't even know when the season 2 premiere was airing. Not what you'd call great promotion).

Saje: O in middle right

*shakes fist*, how could you possibly see my strategy GVH ? I may have a mole.

X in middle bottom.
Hmm, X in middle bottom. A clever ruse you're pulling there. But the mole my clever mind saw right through it!

O in middle top! Ha!
Damn and blast yer spying eyes !

*feints towards bottom right* X in top right ! Ha HA ! Check and mate my friend ! Wait, what game are we playing again ?
We're playing Stratego, right? Because my spy just totally killed your Marshal and took your flag, while you were looking the other way.
Jesus that's a blast from the past GVH, I used to love that game, me and my brother would play it for hours and hours on end and when he got bored i'd pester anyone and everyone to play it with me.

(the little regional variations are sometimes the most interesting - in my UK set "Miners" were called "Sappers", 'sapper' being the British army name for a military engineer mainly occupied with building forts, bridges, setting/defusing explosives etc.)
Heh, I used to play it hours on end as well, Saje :). Me and my best friend used to think up new starting positions/strange strategies during the week and then try them against each other in the weekend. Good times :).
Get that X out of my middle bottom.

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