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January 11 2010

Fox gives the final word on Dollhouse. Kevin Reilly explains why all the 13 episodes of season 2 will air despite the show being cancelled. Plus there's this quote --> "[Dollhouse] is a good show, it had a run, but obviously, that's that".

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE rephrase the description. My friend Taylor and I BOTH thought this was saying that Dollhouse was staying on the air past season 2.
That's that, indeed.
It's fun that it is headline news when there are network execs who keep their promises. I always believed in you KR, thanks for two seasons of wonderful television via Joss.
Yeah, kudos to the revolutionary new concept of the honest tv executive. ;)
Fair play to them.
Well I wouldn't go that far. Their PR for season 2 was a disaster in my book. Too many sloppy mistakes were made before the show returned. If it had been handled properly, it could have made a difference.
At the SDCC Glee screening, Kevin Reilly was there with his kids (and digging the fans, by the way). And Joss was there, too. Reilly seemed like a lovely chap and ultimately I'm glad we got two season. Season two has been magic. I still reserve the right to grumble about the second season promo, however. I thought creatively the show stepped up massively - and the network stepped down.
I would have understood their decision to cancel the show after season one (even though I loved the first season), but giving the show a second season really proved that they gave the show a decent shot. It was just a difficult show to sell to a mass audience, a complicated show to write and an audience that never showed up.

I think Dollhouse would have really profited from being a 5-season-show, all carefully planned out from the beginning, on cable where it would not have needed to attract these huge numbers.

Some might say Dollhouse was Whedon's weakest TV effort, but for me personally, it was one of his strongest efforts. I find it really difficult to pick a favorite from all of Joss's shows, but Dollhouse definitely has a special place in my heart for the compelling philosophical questions it raised about identity, abuse of technology, manipulation and social influence.
They kept their promise, but they also cut their losses. It came to a point where it would not be in the best interest of FOX if Dollhouse became a five minutes to midnight hit sensation. Their PR was bad for Dollhouse on purpose. They didn't want to have to change their minds.

Somebody thought FOXs ratings would improve if they used scifi on Fridays. Dollhouse isn't the only casualty. Terminator failed too. I gave that series a season, and when they played Johnny Cash while throwing cops into a swimming pool, that was for me the last straw. That's not my idea of good entertainment. Maybe it's yours. No need to argue about that. Summer Glau could only do so much to save that series for me.

I happen to agree w/FOX's decision to drop Terminator cuz I had already dropped it. It is more difficult for me to agree with their assessment of Dollhouse because from Man on the Street onward, it became MY kind of show. Even before that it showed promise but Dollhouse had a rocky start. There's no denying that, and mainstream audiences are notorious for making first impressions & sticking to them.

By the time Dollhouse got good, it was no longer cost effective for FOX to turn on a dime & hop on board. They probably already have alternative plans for Fridays on 2011 that will no doubt also fail, but someone in a suit and tie has laid down their reputation, and they're gonna make it happen. Either that or they'll find themselves unemployed, and someone else will come along after him with another idea that everyone will insist is better, and we'll be somewhere else on Fridays. Fox will be left scratching their heads.
@donnie ...not to mention Eliza Dushku knocking people out every week.

[ edited by dstroyer on 2010-01-11 22:56 ]
Fox in no way gave Dollhouse poor PR to ditch it. Just for the record.
I give FOX credit for trying to put shows on Friday night, when only one network (CBS) seems to be able to be successful on that night. I also give FOX credit for finally giving one of their Friday night shows a bit more time to gain an audience (even if it didn't happen). Just think how quickly Wonderfalls got canned without having been given a fair shot.

For me, they redeemed themselves a bit. Doesn't change however that all their upcoming shows look pretty lame for me.
Some might say Dollhouse was Whedon's weakest TV effort, but for me personally, it was one of his strongest efforts.

I think it's his most ambitious show and who knows where it would've gone if it lasted, when it really worked it stood shoulder to shoulder with any show IMO. That said, so far (still two to go ;) i'd struggle to put it above Buffy, 'Angel' and 'Firefly' myself (though that says more about those shows' amazingly high quality than it does about 'Dollhouse' and i'm glad we have all of them).

Fair play to them, in their handling of the show they made some mistakes IMO but they did what they said they were going to do and Kevin Reilly seems an honourable guy.

I always believed in you KR, thanks for two seasons of wonderful television via Joss.

I just wish you'd told us he deserved the benefit of the doubt zeitgeist. Ahem ;).
I always believed in you KR, thanks for two seasons of wonderful television via Joss.


Yeah, thanks for putting most of us on the KR-bandwagon way back when, z :). I know his presence at the network made me less nervous about the show being handled correctly.

And the way he ended up handling this - renewing the show and getting us a second season when conventional wisdom would've been to cancel - is totally consistent with his past track record, which you had to point to time and again (and again ;)) at the start of this - but I'm glad you did :).
I am very happy that Joss and Kevin Reilly gave the commitment to make and air all 13 episodes of the second season. Shamans need not only to have visions but to share them with the whole tribe, or at least the part of the tribe that tunes in or owns a DVR or maybe downloads the vision later. Also, Dollhouse rocks my socks.
I would say Dollhouse's first 24 episodes were better than Angel's first 24, though. It's tough to compare entire series when they all lasted for different amounts of time.
I'm sorry Mr. Reilly, but with all due respect, that comment was so inane I can't quite begin to describe it sufficiently.

Side Note: Will have to agree to disagree on that, bonzob.

[ edited by J Linc on 2010-01-11 23:25 ]
I would say Dollhouse's first 24 episodes were better than Angel's first 24, though


I'd rate the Darla arc as one of the best Whedonverse plot lines ever so them's fighting words :p.
Yeah. Angel season two, the Minear stuff, is my early 20s. I just can't seem to care.

Dollhouse is my late 20s. Being anybody for everybody else, and nobody for myself.
I found the Darla plot really cheesy personally, but then I'm not really into the whole supernatural thing (I was when I was younger, when I was into Buffy). I admit I haven't watched much of Angel though, but I think I was somewhere in the middle of season 2 when I just decided to not watch anymore, and I didn't even start enjoying it until Faith's appearance. I intend to continue watching again, after my rewatch of Buffy, which didn't start getting good for me until the middle of season 3 (where I'm currently at in my rewatch). Dollhouse got good for me in episode 6, so it is my choice for strongest.
But Simon, the beginning of the Darla arc was episode 23, 22 if you wanna get technical. Not disagreeing with you, just thinking Bonzob has a valid opinon that you've yet to technically disagree with. :)
I like the Darla plot too, but it wasn't in Angel's first 24 episodes, was it? Wouldn't the first 24 just be the first season plus the first two eps of season two? That would encompass Darla's resurrection but not much else, if memory serves.

Plus, within those 24 eps we had mediocre-to-bad episodes like: I Fall To Pieces, Sense And Sensitivity, The Bachelor Party, Expecting, She, The Ring, Eternity, and War Zone, not to mention the disappointing first season finale To Shanshu In La, and the disappointing season two premiere, Judgment.

In that same stretch of eps Dollhouse has given us Man On The Street, Needs, Spy In The House Of Love, Briar Rose, Omega, Epitaph One, Vows, Belle Chose, Belonging, The Public Eye, The Left Hand, A Love Supreme, The Attic, and Getting Closer.

I don't think Angel really found it's way until about halfway into its second season, despite the occasional great episode (Five by Five, Sanctuary, a few others).
It's nice to see they're letting it play out to a good conclusion, rather than what happened to Firefly, canned unceremoniously without even playing episodes that had been made.

It is a terrible shame that Dollhouse had such a shaky start, a couple of friends of mine have been watching it, and they're not massively obsessive Joss fans like I am, and they were unconvinced at the start. Today, unprompted, one of them told me he thought it was one of the best shows around today.

It does seem to be endemic of Joss' shows that they need a bit of time to figure out what it is exactly that they're supposed to be, and grow into themselves a bit; this again makes me terribly sad to see what Firefly could have been had it had time to finish baking.

With that said, Joss really just needs to call it quits on running with networks, or at least not big ones. I can't say I've noticed any decline in the quality of Dollhouse this season because of the reduced budget, and he made Dr Horrible on a shoestring. Sometimes you can be your most creative when you've got limited resources.
Well after the Fox Friday Firefly fiasco, the stakes were higher for Dollhouse to succeed than they had been for any of Whedon's previous shows. And while it took a few weeks to kick into high quality television, once it did, Dollhouse was up and running.
I still think Joss should make big shows on big networks. Cable shows get canned, too.

And yes, Angel season one? Pretty poor.

[ edited by gossi on 2010-01-11 23:51 ]
Oh, I just want to say that from what I saw, a lot of the Darla plot was actually cool. I just thought the whole bringing her back from the dead thing (something it seems Joss likes doing a lot in his shows) and how that was executed was cheesy. But the stuff that happened after was neat.
It's tough to compare entire series when they all lasted for different amounts of time.

That's true but I can say with reasonable certainty that if (and it's a big if, granted) 'Firefly' had run for 7 seasons of the same consistency as the half-ish season we did get then it would've become my favourite Whedon show. 'Dollhouse' hasn't quite had that sort of consistency IMO, even though there're more episodes (and I actually liked it from the start, with some reservations).

As I say though, I agree that 'Dollhouse' has been more ambitious than Buffy/Angel/Firefly were in their first 26 episodes and probably even that its high-points have been higher.

And just to be clear, we're comparing 4 brilliant shows with each other, however i'd rank them among themselves it'd still be above most TV out there. 4th best Joss is better than 1st best almost everyone else.

(oh and the Darla arc was amazing IMO, from start to finish)
not to mention the disappointing first season finale To Shanshu In La

Aw man, I love that episode. That second-to-last scene with Angel, Cordy, and Wes makes me well up every time. And the rest of the episode is fun and dramatic as well.
Wait, people didn't like She? When I finally started to watch Angel a year or two ao, I definitely thought it was one of the better season 1 eps, though I guess I can understand not liking it when watching it live.

And season 1 of Angel was pretty bad. Almost as bad as season 1 of Buffy *shudder*. Even in its worst, I don't think Dollhouse ever reached some of those levels.
I'm glad KR gave us a 2nd Season and that he commit to air all Season 2 episodes, and I respect him for that... BUT... Maybe it's too soon, or maybe I'm just grumpy and gratitude is not my strongest virtue, but I don't think I can forgive the horrible PR work they did (or didn't, actually).

So yeah... That's that.

(and for the record, I love Angel Season 1!)
Wait, people didn't like She? When I finally started to watch Angel a year or two ago, I definitely thought it was one of the better season 1 eps, though I guess I can understand not liking it when watching it live.


The episode itself was so-so, but it still holds a fond place in my memory for the scenes of Angel and Wesley dancing. Totally epic. ;)
I think Fox the Network did us decent service in the case of DH.
Unlike some of you I do not judge them harshly for their
perceived lack of promotion because I don't think it was part of
their plan or their expectations for the show. I could be wrong
and YMMV. I personally think that they believed that the
Whedonverse fan base could deliver an acceptable ratings number
without a lot of promotion and that the show would grow over
time.

Promotion costs them in terms of lost ad revenues. Given the
recent changes in advertising (stagnant or dropping rates,
make-goods, advertiser withdrawls from the market, etc., etc.)
I don't know how much promotion was realistically possible.

I don't know what ratings number would have ensured renewal but
if I had to guess it would be about a 2.0/4. We had those numbers
up thru episode 9 of the first season. So in my mind the problem
is all those people who bailed not the ones who never showed up.

One question for one of the others who know more of about the
advertising component. Fox does not run any shows at all after
10:00 est. Therefore it seems to me that promotion of those
shows might have less potential for them than that for the
preceding hour in that there is no spillover benefit possible.
If that's the case then heavy promotion of a 9:00 show would be
the exception would it not ?
Promotion doesn't just attract new people, though. It gets old people to come back, and lets them know things like a) this show was renewed, b) this show's coming back on at such and such a date and time, c) these are the exciting new plotlines happening on this show that may make you more excited about the show than you otherwise might have been, and d) this show has improved a lot (e.g. they couldn't have cut a single ad with all the rapturous praise the show got?).

There are big Whedon fans who tuned out of Dollhouse after the first few eps and never came back. There are more who never returned for season two. Part of that comes down to content, but part of that is marketing.

We're a pretty plugged in, savvy bunch at Whedonesque, and yet look at one of the first comments in the "Getting Closer" thread... someone here didn't know the show was back on last Friday.

Of course, it's already canceled so they're not marketing it now, but many didn't even know it had been picked up or that season two had premiered. Eliza did a talk show where they said her premiere was upcoming and she had to correct them and say they were already on episode three. That's bad promotion.
The Johnny Cash scene in Terminator was AMAZING.
I hope this isn't too far off subject, but I wanted to relate.

Today, a friend and coworker asked me about the last episode of "Dollhouse". He'd always heard me talk about it, so he gave last Friday's episode a watch. My goodness, he was full of questions! "Who's the British chick? Who's Caroline? What's up with that scarred-face girl?" Of course, I went back and explained everything that had happened in the past seasons and I think I kept it short and sweet enough so he understood the depth of the show.

Thing is, in explaining it, I too fell in wonder in this story that Joss had bought to us and I just wanted to say, "Thanks Joss!"
The Johnny Cash scene in Terminator was AMAZING.

Word. In a show that could've just settled for action and Cameron vs Terminator-of-the-week that scene felt like art. Brilliant TV.
I kind of liked the Johnny Cash scene, but unfortunately it mostly fealt like a "now we need a good endfight but cant afford it" kind of trick.

Speaking as someone who hasent seen the second Dollhouse season yet (yes Im ashamed) Dollhouse is absolutely one of Joss'es most thought through and cerebral shows and that will always turn people of Im afraid.
Not saying budget wasn't a consideration Satai (with Punsch) but Josh Friedman has said in interview that it was something he'd wanted to do for a while and had suggested ahead of time in the writer's room. And besides, the original impetus doesn't matter all that much to me, the end result is still a great TV moment (creating anything is surely partly about working with limitations and then surpassing them - money's a limitation. Or rather, not-money is ;).
Speaking as someone who hasent seen the second Dollhouse season yet (yes Im ashamed) Dollhouse is absolutely one of Joss'es most thought through and cerebral shows and that will always turn people of Im afraid.


I'd say you have something to look forward to. :)
I'm just grateful for all the Dollhouse we did get. Don't think we could possibly have gotten this much without Reilly.

As for the 23 first episodes of Dollhouse vs. Angel's, I'm still firmly in the Angel camp, but I have only seen 18 eps of Dollhouse yet, so I'm hoping I'll be blown away by those 5 I haven't seen yet. As for Angel: I absolutely loved To Shanshu In La and Judgment, so I'm really surprised to see those singled out for criticism, though I on the other hand really disliked both Five by Five and Sanctuary, so I suppose we must have got quite different tastes when it comes to Angel. Angel the show as a whole just worked really well troughout this first period. I love the antics of Wesley, Cordy and Angel and there are quite a few brilliant little stand-alones among the season 1 eps, especially I've Got You Under My Skin was outstanding. Yes Angel reached even higher highs in season 2 when the Darla arc really started and in season 3, but at least for me, its first season was quite brilliant already.
Bonzob, the whole point of promotion is to attract new people. It does work - Lost opened huge, Chuck season 3 premiered to bigger figures than season 2 premiered to etc.

Edit - I misread your post, hee.

[ edited by gossi on 2010-01-12 11:17 ]
I also don't think the quality of the ad campaign is where Fox dropped the ball. What they could have done for the show was to give it a single airing on a night that isn't friday. Either a repeat of "Ghost" the week after it's friday premiere. Airing "Man on the street" - the hyped re-introduction episode on a night where it could have attracted a new audience that would follow it to fridays or last but not least a weekday airing of "Epitaph:1" just prior to the second season premiere.
The quality of the ad campaign for season two was terrible. Trust me on that.
Bonzob, the whole point of promotion is to attract new people. It does work - Lost opened huge, Chuck season 3 premiered to bigger figures than season 2 premiered to etc.

I'd heard good things about Chuck but hadn't watched an episode until the recent marathon. Which convinced me to catch the 2-episode premiere on Sunday & last night's show. I'm now a fan & plan to check out the older episodes.

Hey, I watch shows on the 'net--shows that I'm already fond of. But my TV, while not very big, is bigger than my PC monitor. And clicking the remote is even easier than firing up the PC.

I think marathons are great ways to interest new viewers. And bring old fans up to speed. Was there ever a Dollhouse marathon?
I'm not much of a TV watcher, so I'm probably not the best judge, but I don't think any of the official promos for Dollhouse (S1 or S2) were especially compelling for me and had I not been a Firefly fan I wouldn't have even tried to watch the show. NBC for all of their issues has done a great job with Chuck PR this time around. It has been everywhere and the No More Mr. Nice Spy theme works for both new viewers and old, but also for people who maybe tried Chuck but never became loyal watchers. I could see them trying the show again, just to see why he's no longer "nice".

The S2 Dollhouse ads really needed to address all 3 audiences as well, but basically ended up being a rehash of the S1 ad campaign.
The Johnny Cash scene in Terminator was AMAZING.

Word. In a show that could've just settled for action and Cameron vs Terminator-of-the-week that scene felt like art. Brilliant TV.


Double word, Saje. When faced with limitations (like money), it can turn into great opportunities for creativity. The Johnny Cash scene redeemed some of the lackluster S1 episodes for me, and kept me watching every week of S2 (even through all of the "Sarah sees aliens" eps). Really beautiful.

not_Bridget, there wasn't a Dollhouse marathon on TV, but there have been hosted "Watch Dollhouse Week" before the finale of S1, before the return of S2, and there is one currently planned 1/16 - 1/22. It was structured by b!X to get the word out, and spread the goodness. If you watch on-line via Hulu or Fox, or even re-watch the episodes from your DVR, they get "counted" (although numbers don't mean much anymore). You can also get the episodes off of Amazon or iTunes.

What I like to do it watch on-line and comment about it (via Twitter or e-mail) any favorite quotes or twister moments. It's pretty fun.
Kudos to FOX for keeping their word... Sure, they could have done more and they certain could have done things better (especially in the beginning), but ultimately I don't blame the demise of Dollhouse on FOX... The channel has atleast somewhat redeemed them for the Firefly fiasco... Although it don't change the fact that anything quality will always go to die on FOX...
I actually really liked Season 1 of Angel. Ok, so we didn't have the Jossian story arcs yet and it had the monster-of-the-week the format of Buffy S1, but I did love the darker, noir tone of it. Yes, episodes like 'She' were pretty bad (apart from two scenes of that though: Wesley and Angel dancing, and Angel pretending to be a tour guide - I love Angel's little moments of improvisation). But I loved 'City of', 'Lonely Hearts'(the reason I discovered VAST) 'IWRY', 'In the Dark'(Spike's narration!) 'I've Got You Under My Skin' 'Five by Five'&'Sanctuary', 'The Prodigal' 'Sense and Sensitivity'(sensitive Angel was just funny!), 'To Shanshu in L.A.'...actually, the episode I really didn't like overall was 'She'.
There were some great scenes with Angel, Cordy and Doyle/Wes throughout. Tbh, most of the S1 plots were much better than Buffy S1. And of course, I loved Doyle.
I am still bitter about the lack of promotion. I have friends who wanted to watch the show - they just didn't know that it had started again.

Forget new viewers, they managed to actually lose some of the old ones as well.
Yeah, that's the point I was making, Shanshu! Except it got misread, though corrected.

It's funny, the fandom seems to have done a 180 from "screw everything FOX does ever, they hate Joss," to "hey, let's not say a single bad thing about FOX, they gave the show a second season," when the reality, like with most things, is somewhere in between those extremes.

It's great that they renewed the show. But the season two promotion was beyond terrible.
Well basically I'm grateful that we got 26 episodes, and a complete (if rushed) story arc. And I'm grateful these 2nd season episodes are all being aired... I hate waiting for the DVD (which I will buy regardless). Frankly I could live with Joss doing a series of 13 episode shows... Could be squeeze in a 'Firefly: Where are they now'??
Yeah, that's the point I was making, Shanshu! Except it got misread, though corrected.

I just read your comment :) Sorry, sometimes I post without reading the entire thread. I really shouldn't. But yes, I agree with you whole-heartedly!
It's funny, the fandom seems to have done a 180 from "screw everything FOX does ever, they hate Joss," to "hey, let's not say a single bad thing about FOX, they gave the show a second season," when the reality, like with most things, is somewhere in between those extremes.

Personally I don't believe the fandom's done any such thing (at least not on here which is pretty much my sole experience of 'the fandom' ;) - many/most of the comments are tempered with reservations about some aspect of Fox's handling of the show, they just seem slightly more moderate and less damning than they have been previously (i.e. either fewer people now "hate" Fox for what they're perceived to have done or fewer people are expressing it). Partly, IMO, because they did give us a second season (though let's not kid ourselves, I doubt it was out of the kindness of their hearts ;) and maybe partly because most people now see their biggest mis-steps as "just" incompetence, which is more forgivable than malice ?
Fair enough Saje, perhaps that was somehwhat hyperbolic, and in thinking about it, a large portion of the fandom probably still hate Fox anyway. It just frustrates me when people say things like "well, it got a fair shot," or, "hey, at least they brought it back," which I feel like I've seen a LOT lately.

Yes, it was great that they brought it back. Yes, part of the blame to low ratings was the show's content (both the slow start and the fact that the premise is too dark/convoluted to ever be, say, a top twenty show). But I maintain that with slightly more, and, more importantly, MUCH better promotion for season two, they could have got the ratings required for a season three. And that's a shame.
Certainly is (we can't know for sure if it would've been enough but I don't exactly see better/more promotion leading to fewer viewers, put it that way ;).
FOX not only greenlit Dollhouse, but renewed Dollhouse for a second season.

We all should be thankful to FOX for giving us a new Joss Whedon show to watch these past two years.
Past year. Dollhouse only premiered last year.

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