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"It appealed to the schizophrenic in me, both of them actually."
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February 23 2010

Olivia Williams - "I don't think Joss will ever do another TV show". She adds "[Joss] wrote all my scenes because he was the only writer who could do the English thing without me sounding like I had a rod up my arse". Olivia also talks about what it was like working through the cancellation.

I have a feeling Joss will make a return to TV in the future. Question is, does TV deserve to have him?

FOX has proved they do not.

[ edited by alcabongTV on 2010-02-23 20:19 ]
I've got to share Olivia's opinion; I don't think another TV show is going to happen after Dollhouse.
I can certainly believe he wouldn't do another show on a broadcast network, but does this exclude cable?
I'd think a lot will depend on how well Cabin in the Woods does next year, but in the end I think (hope) we'll see another Joss show on TV
For the record - Dollhouse finishes on SciFi tonight with a triple bill, not on March 9th.
Well, I hope she's wrong. Joss deserves to be on the air. I miss the time when Buffy and Angel were on the air and all we could hear were good news. No cancellation problems, except for Angel last season.

Howewvwe, I also believe that it will take longer to have another tv show by Joss Whedon.
I'd love to see him return to television, but something with more cred than Fox.
I hope she is wrong. Joss writing/producing for a premium network would be heavenly.

ETA: even if it means i need to wait a year to watch on DVD.

[ edited by espalier on 2010-02-23 20:45 ]
Only my opinion: I think he belongs in a place where's less money on the table, and so less crazy. It's not that I think he belongs outside the mainstream. I actually think people can find his work, and he doesn't necessarily need the platform of broadcast like other people may. He's not pumpin' out CSI or 24.
I can understand if Joss were to never do network television again, but I'm going to remain hopeful that perhaps he'll do something on cable. If not a regular TV show, then perhaps a close-ended series of 13-15 episodes.
I have a feeling Joss will make a return to TV in the future. Question is, does TV deserve to have him?

FOX has proved they do not.


On the contrary, I think Fox bent over backwards to accomodate Dollhouse. In fact I think they shot themselves in the foot by bending too far. They ordered seven episodes before they even saw a script, which meant that by the time they saw the pilot episode and realized that the show they thought they were getting wasn't the show Joss Whedon was making, they were locked in to doing the series. If instead they had simply ordered a pilot without making any further commitments, perhaps Joss and Fox could have figured out a way to align their respective visions. (Though to be fair, I doubt it: Fox thought they were getting Eliza as Alias; Joss wanted to write a show about human trafficking and the kind of people who become Dollhouse clients.) Fox rightly saw that the show's concept--essentially, brainwashed slaves and the people who control them and the people who hire them--was too insular and offputting and potentially offensive to be the next big hit so they promptly put it on Fridays, where it would have a chance to survive with cult numbers, while committing to running all 13 episodes. Any other network might have just cancelled it. The show continually lost viewers, starting at less than 5 million and ending around 2 million. Some slippage is to be expected in any new show as people tune in for the premiere and then wander away, but even Joss has admitted that somewhere along the way they alienated the few people who had been watching. And then Fox renewed the show for a second season anyway even though its ratings were terrible. And all Fox asked for was that they manage to maintain those terrible ratings. Not build on them, just maintain them. And the show couldn't manage it: Dollhouse lost viewers again. Any other network would've cancelled the show early in the second season, but Fox committed, once again, to showing all thirteen. I call that going above and beyond the call of duty on Kevin Reilly's part.

Television is a money-making venture, and Dollhouse simply never pulled in numbers that were any better than terrible. Fox stood by it as long as they could. This Fox-bashing is simply unfair. Dollhouse failed because people didn't want to watch it.
Maybe he will start a long lasting movie career? Although, it would be a tragedy to loose Joss Whedon from television. Ripper has been on the shelf for many many years now, so who knows? Joss, that's who.
If he does return - and on cable, not broadcast - it should be after a long, long, long, long, long, long break, which should include that long-delayed vacation that Dollhouse forestalled.

A Great Vacation. A Looooooong Vacation. A Magical Vacation with extra-Vitamin "Fuck-off."

A vacation of several years - at least - duration, broken only by ComicCons and suchlike, and filled with family, reading, travel and long, refreshing, fallow days.

Which I don't imagine he'll actually do but - it's my Special TV Wish for him.

(Then he can come back and make "The Sarah Connor-Fray Chronicles: Finding Their Strange" with Josh Friedman and Tim Minear for HBO or Showtime, with full executive-editorial control - and broadcast can kiss his ass.)

I think maybe I said that last part out loud.
What is this talk? He had lunch with a guy. Are we forgetting the lunch already?
Just for the record, many of the problems Dollhouse had were because of the TV development model and related to issues FOX has. That's my take. Keep in mind I constantly defended FOX on that one the entire time, but now there's some distance: yeah. If I was Joss I would have thought about walking away from Dollhouse. But then I wouldn't have because of the jobs.

And on a more positive note, Olivia is an amazingly wonderful actress.

Edit: the lunch thing is going to tickle me forever. Joss has lunch all the time. We just don't know about it usually. (thankfully)

[ edited by gossi on 2010-02-23 21:00 ]
These are all valid points Hellmouthguy, but word of mouth advertising can only carry a project so far. I'm not sure I have ever seen FOX give such a lack of promotion to a show.

Not to say promotion was the only factor. I think we can all agree that FOX did not believe in the project from the start. This is not blind worship talking.

[ edited by alcabongTV on 2010-02-23 21:04 ]
Okay, Fox did bend over backwards, we did get a second season afterall. And to be honest, the show could have been better. But other than that, broadcast TV shouldn't be the way to go if he returns. Cable, cable, cable that's what I'm saying. Also, I agree with QuoterGal, a long vacation is needed. Almost to the point of, "oh, hey, remember Joss Whedon? Yeah, well he's working on a project after all these years. I'm pretty excited."
I'd still like to see a Joss broadcast sitcom. Or a half hour 30 Rock style thing with Felicia.

[ edited by gossi on 2010-02-23 21:13 ]
Joss's style of storytelling works best with the long arc. Movies are fine, but his brain gets too packed with ideas to fit easily into 2 hours. The probability that he'll return to the traditional broadcast TV model is slim to nil. The necessity of hitting those big network ratings numbers often runs up against the types of stories he tells.

Just give technology a bit more time to mature. Once the distribution opens up for more independent productions, Joss will have his own studio/network like thingy. The doors will open up and he can do his own thing and create his own business model.

Then he'll go mad with power. It'll be fun!
I love quirky funny Joss, but I heart darker-life-is-pain-make-you-think-Aesop-fable-hero-with-a-thousand-faces Joss. But the two combined is a total epic nerdgasm.
These are all valid points Hellmouthguy, but word of mouth advertising can only carry a project so far. I'm not sure I have ever seen FOX give such a lack of promotion to a show.

Not to say promotion was the only factor. I think we can all agree that FOX did not believe in the project from the start. This is not blind worship talking.


Well, this isn't a Dollhouse critique thread, so I don't want to write a treatise here, but I think from a network perspective (the perspective of wanting to appeal to many millions of people) not believing in Dollhouse from the start is a valid response to the concept, the pilot, and the first batch of episodes. I haven't seen every second of Dollhouse, but I have seen the entirety of the first season, including Epitaph One, on DVD, and I've seen most of the second season, including Epitaph Two (I'll watch it all when the season two DVD set comes out.) And for me the show was a mess from top to bottom: from concept to casting to plotting to characterization, I thought it all needed massive reworking. It often offended me and it often bored me; it hardly ever held my interest. I watched because I like Buffy and I like Eliza but I never actually warmed up to the show and I found mysef grittng my teeth through the giant plot contrivances, the boring missions of the week, the hit-or-miss performances by Eliza, and certain characters who never failed to irritate me.

After the season two DVD set comes out I may just write an in-depth review of the show, mostly as a way to get some of the more offensive elements out of my system, and also as an exercise in pinning down what went wrong. More than the show itself, the problems that beset the show actually intrigue me: lots of talented people were assembled and they put in a lot of effort and it just never really worked for the majority of viewers out there, and also for a significant portion of Joss Whedon's own fanbase, myself included. Frankly, I can see Fox looking at the early episodes and deciding, this isn't a hit, it looks like an early cancellation. No way we're spending money on it. If it survives on Fridays, fine, but it's sink or swim.
The thing is, whatever the network's problems with Dollhouse, it was them who bought the show in the first place. By putting it on Friday night and limiting marketing spend, you basically write your own show death warrant. Compare and contrast FOX's advertising attempts to Sci-Fi UK's advertising attempts and you may realise the scale of the difference in how the show was handled. It was a big business fail for Fox, but knocked Sci-Fi UK's previous ratings record down (Heroes season one premiere). Wonder why.

[ edited by gossi on 2010-02-23 21:32 ]
It was definetly Fox's fault for not advertsising. At all.
I am a avid Dollhouse fan, and I found out a whole week after season 2 premiered that it had returned to television. That proved to me on so many levels that Fox seriously expected Dollhouse to get viewers by word of mouth and through sites like Whedonesque or slayalive. Which is great, the internet is a fantastic place, but if you're going to expect the viewers to spread the word of Dollhouse around through viral messages, don't be mad when these viral people end up watching it online. i mean come on, i'm the biggest homebody I know, but even I sometimes had things to do on Friday nights, which left me to watching Dollhouse on Hulu, and apparently those numbers don't mean a darn thing.
The only advertisements I have ever seen for dollhouse were the 20 second long promos at the end of every episode.

Put simply, whoever is in charge of advertising and marketing at Fox needs to be fired...now.

That being said, Dollhouse didn't come off to a great start, but in actuality what show actually does? I'm going to be honest, if I had seen Buffy from the first couple of episodes I would've gave up on it. It, like Dollhouse, was immensely better in its second half of season 1 and second season. But how would anyone know that if all they had to go off of was...well, nothing.
I agree with several of these points. Yes, there were a lot of problems, and yes Fox did try, but I don't think at their hardest. Television is first and foremost a business built on a very specific model, but as proven with Dr. Horrible, one that is starting to become outdated. We as fans care about the story quality and innovation, while television executives care about what's going to bring them the most revenue.

I really liked Dollhouse because it was thought-provoking and because it was occasionally offensive. That is the whole point, to get a rise out of you, to make you think, to BE subversive. I think Fox jumped the gun on doing this show and had no idea what they were getting into, and I feel like they only renewed it because they didn't want another Firefly where fans would send them death threats, and they didn't want the bad press.

Season two was a vast improvement over season one because of the pacing, but you need blah season one as a foundation for awesome season two. Season two was good because it got canceled, and had to cram everything in, which actually made for a better story and show. Season two was faster, more actiony, had way faster character development, and had an overlying story arch instead of a bunch of standalones, and I think that's what we were looking for in season one. Epitaph One gave us something to look forward to, something to search for. I certainly was looking for clues as to why Topher breaks down, and how Boyd "escapes", and how the world falls apart. The theory level was there is season one, but season two had both a theory level and a story level.

[ edited by katiegrrl1016 on 2010-02-23 21:48 ]
I too loved Dollhouse. I also think if Fox had put in the effort on promotion and given the "sink or swim" approach to Season 2--by giving it a decent time slot for a few weeks (right before or after Fringe), it would have survived to S3.

I think season 2 was fantastic from start to finish. And the second half of season 2 was some of the best TV to air in many, many years.

I hope Joss does more TV. He's, ya know, pretty good at it.

PS: Wishing a hearty welcome to the new members!
If Joss could pull the kind of numbers on cable that he pulled on network TV, it would be viewed as a triumph. They might be bad for a network, but they would have value on cable.
I think I'm rather more annoyed with the errors that Fox made in promoting the second season than anything else. Giving journalists incorrect airdates, publishing wrong times on the website and so and so on. I'm sure gossi can mention more. It was some of the sloppiest PR work I've ever seen. I never thought I would miss the days of The WB's promotion of Angel.
Tragic, since TV is his best medium, IMO :(
I have always admired actors who have been able to remain A* throughout a show, with the low ratings and the uncertainty. With actors like in Parks and Recreation, How I Met Your Mother (season three, maybe season two, but only the last half), House (first few episodes were very low rated), Ugly Betty, and, most recently, The Good Wife.
Casual fans are what make up the bulk of viewers of any show. The majority of people watching things like CSI: Miami are not hardcore super fans who visit show oriented message boards or cast and crew's personal social networking sites.

Regardless of the quality of Dollhouse or any other program, the general TV watching populace was not there because FOX dropped the ball.
That being said, Dollhouse didn't come off to a great start, but in actuality what show actually does? I'm going to be honest, if I had seen Buffy from the first couple of episodes I would've gave up on it. It, like Dollhouse, was immensely better in its second half of season 1 and second season. But how would anyone know that if all they had to go off of was...well, nothing.


You know, that argument gets brought up a lot to defend Dollhouse. But in actuality Buffy really was pretty great in the early days. I've seen every episode of Buffy three or four times and I've actually started writing reiews, so I've been rewatching with a critical eye. And the thing about Buffy is, it's entertaining, right out of the gate. It would grow in complexity in later seasons but from the very first episode it already had everything it needed to be a success: a sturdy concept, (which Dollhouse did not have--there are a lot of people out there who simply never bought the whole mind-wiping thing and a lot more who never cared to watch brainwashed slaves being rented to people), great writing, great characters and a wonderful cast that people wanted to tune in to see every week. Welcome to the Hellmouth is primitive in some respects compared to, say, Hush, but it's still great fun to watch. So is the rest of the first season; the only outright clunker was Teacher's Pet. (And if people are going to point to Sid the Puppet or Willow's robot pal Moloch as proof that season one was lame, I would like to point them right back to the show's concept: Hellmouth, magic, weird things happen. Also, no budget to speak of.) I never failed to enjoy Buffy even when I was aware of a particular episode's faults (almost always, Buffy's achilles heel was plot holes and writing contrivances) whereas I never really did enjoy Dollhouse, nor did I ever warm up to any of the characters. I experienced Buffy for the first time on DVD, right around the time the series was ending and after having avoided it for years because I thought (and I still do, actually) that vampires doing kung fu kicks is sorta dumb. I watched all of season one in two sittings and loved it; even Teacher's Pet was watchable because I loved watching the cast. That was something Dollhouse never had: a cast I actively wanted to see every week regardless of the quality of the episode.

At the end of the day it's about entertaining people. Maybe Dollhouse asked more interesting philosophical questions in its first season then Buffy did, but it simply didn't grab people the same way.
I hope this isn't true. Joss is brilliant at what he does and it would be tragic if he gave up on TV. I agree - with Dollhouse, FOX tried but they didn't really have their heart in it. I found the promos on Sci-Fi UK a hell of a lot better (finale's tonight - triple bill btw). There are so many more stories that can come out of that genius brain of his - he just needs the backing of people who love a good story more than just raking in cash and who have faith in him ...which is basically us. Anyone think they're set to become a network executive anytime soon? I swear if I could win a lottery, I'd help fund his next project.

He should give cable a shot. And if that doesn't work, come to England! Pleeeease Joss! It would be great to have you here!
Frick, The Good Wife gets fabulous ratings. Total shock of the season. It is actually a hit and not at all in danger.
If I was a betting man, I'd say that Whedonesque will be focussing on Joss' movies and comic books for the next few years. We certainly will be by October.
I'll just remind folks once more - but most of us already know this - you are simply mistaken if you look at the first five episodes of Dollhouse and think you know what Joss intended for the show, or if you believe that Fox didn't dick with it in a major way.

It's been said by many, many folks associated with the show - including original Dollhouse co-execs Fain & Craft, as well as Joss - that Fox messed with the show right off the bat. Joss always tried to put a good face on it, but it was obvious to most of us - especially those who read or saw the awesome scrapped pilot - that he intended a much richer, deeper and nuanced show, and was thwarted by Fox. I'll let these few quotes serve, but there are dozens out there:

"Whedon says the Fox network wasn't particularly comfortable with these themes either. The original pilot episode of the series, which included discussion of the actives performing more altruistic deeds, was scrapped in favor of one that amped up the action and conspiracy.

Whedon says Fox also asked him to turn down the volume on some of the sexual themes.

"My problem has always been, what happens is that you get the corporations basically enjoying the titillation of the thing instead of wanting to baldly talk about it," he says.
- "Welcome To The 'Dollhouse': Meet The Anti-Buffy"

and:

Fain: "Also, the first half of the season was negotiating with the network about what the show was. After those first five episodes is where Joss’ vision got to come through." - "Though the future of ‘Dollhouse’ isn’t certain, the show’s KC-raised producers are planning for it"

And Joss again:

“The problems that the show encountered weren’t standalone versus mythology [episodes],” Whedon said. “Basically, the show didn’t really get off the ground because the network pretty much wanted to back away from the concept five minutes after they bought it." - "Sex, secrets and 'Dollhouse': Joss Whedon talks about the end of his Fox show"

So - dislike it, criticize it, go to town on it - but don't talk about it as if those initial episodes represent a Joss show - they represent the mess that happens when network executives don't get, don't like and don't trust what the show's creator has created.
I definitely don't think Joss will make a return to network TV any time soon, but I think we have something to hope for in cable... again probably not soon, but maybe.

And on a side note, Olivia is too wonderful for words, brilliant interview.
I think season 2 was fantastic from start to finish. And the second half of season 2 was some of the best TV to air in many, many years.


To quote Arthur when he ran into Lancelot in Excalibur, "That is a wild boast!"

I think the Sopranos, the West Wing, Deadwood, Californication, Veronica Mars, Farscape, The Office, 30 Rock, The Wire, Mad Men, Dexter, and in fact Buffy the Vampire Slayer would all like to have words with you.

Also, for me, the Boyd reveal eliminates Dollhouse from any "season two was awesome" ruminations. It was a thunderously, earth-shatteringly preposterous contrivance. It was a Boyd ex machina. You could actually see the little strings attached to Boyd as the writers yanked his character around.
@TamaraC, it was getting mid 2s in demo for a while, but it's viewers never dropped below 12 million. It was considered "in danger" by TVBtN. Then it picked up and got back up to the low 3s. (3.0, 3.1)
@Simon, can you check your e-mails? :o
To pick up a few points - Buffy was cheesy fun during almost all of the first season. I mean, they had a ROBOT MONSTER that interacted with Willow on THE INTERWEBZ!! (So bad). I loves me some Buffy, but the days where you can do that show's first season are probably over. Maybe on ABC Family. I still think if you pit Dollhouse's 26 episodes against the first 26 episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse is head and shoulders better in terms of number of great episodes. Overall, Buffy is my favourite show, as later on in season two it becomes a roller coaster of emotion.

In terms of Dollhouse, the advertising angles during the first season aren't actually bad (e.g. the exploitation imagery, which can get people talking). The problems were multiple and they were elsewhere within the marketing of the thing. By the time it got to season two they had a massive issue before it began, and it killed the show. They didn't even attempt to brand it. I'm ultimately glad we got it, as it kept people I admire in work and gave me such joys as "Belonging" and "The Attic".

[ edited by gossi on 2010-02-23 22:24 ]

[ edited by gossi on 2010-02-23 22:25 ]
It's my first post, here, (hi, guys!) and I'm going to keep it very simple.

No, no, no, no, no! Also: no.
Finally somebody mentions Farscape's greatness on here. Hellmouthguy FTW!

[ edited by alcabongTV on 2010-02-23 22:25 ]
@maxbell, hello and welcome to Whedonesque. :)
Interesting comments form Olivia WIlliams, but I think Joss has the final say. And..thanks to technology, who needs a network to make great TV?
Let him wrap up the season 8 comic book, then he'll let us know this summer in San Diego, if not sooner.
Hellmouthguy, I think saying things that Dollhouse didn't work for "a significant portion of Joss Whedon's own fanbase" is not really an accurate representation of fan reaction. Yeah, some people jumped ship because it wasn't for them (which will happen with any show where people watch it based off of the creators), but to say that Dollhouse was somehow significantly shunned by the Whedon fanbase is quite odd considering the level of engagement after the first few episodes by the fanbse. You may have issue with the show personally, and that's fine, but I would be careful characterizing the fanbase's reaction as a whole.

And honestly, I was appalled watching Buffy season 1 on DVD. Almost every episode was mediocre to terrible, minus maybe Angel. Bland, bland, bland. I'm probably in the minority of fans here in that thought, but I almost gave up watching the show if I wasn't pushed to keep going. I found the lows (Teacher's Pet, The Pack, Never Kill a Boy on the FIrst Date, I, Robot... you, Jane), were much lower than anything Dollhouse did (Stage Fright) and the highs didn't even come close to scratching A Spy in the House of Love, Needs, Briar Rose or Epitaph One. Not to mention that Belonging is in my top 5 Whedonverse episodes ever.

And sure, Fox did give the show a second chance. But they should never have ordered 7 episodes off of the bat without seeing a pilot. This is Joss Whedon, they knew should have known it wouldn't just have been Eliza shooting people in a dominatrix outfit. And the advertising, it's like they just gave up. Why even renew it for a second season if you're not going to at least attempt to give it a push? That's just a waste of money (though I'm not necessarily complaining).
Dollhouse was terrific, and for me, was the best show I've seen in many, many years. It was nice to actually get inspired by something on the boob tube again. Other shows just don't measure up, and now I find myself constantly comparing characters on every show and holding them up to the standards of the brilliant Dollhouse ones. Which, by the way, never come close.

I do hope Joss returns to TV again. I think I recall an interview, maybe the last comic con panel, where Joss said that while the TV model is outdated, TV is the only place that allows him to tell the stories he wants to tell on such a grand scale, so on TV he'll stay. I hope I'm not just making this up, and that Joss still means it.
So - dislike it, criticize it, go to town on it - but don't talk about it as if those initial episodes represent a Joss show - they represent the mess that happens when network executives don't get, don't like and don't trust what the show's creator has created.



Here's the part where you hate me--I didn't like the "Joss" episodes either. I've seen the original pilot and thought it was trying to condense a season into an episode and I thought it fell flat accordingly. I think the Dolls being altruistic makes sense from Joss's point of view--from what I've read, he wanted the show to be much more gray. He wanted to portray Rossum as a company doing beneficial research and just using the Dolls as a revenue stream, hence the occasional altruistic missions and Topher's technobabble about how doing nice things makes the Dolls feel good even though we wipe their brains afterwards so that doesn't really make sense. But these Dolls are people who have been murdered. Their identities have been erased and they're being rented out as whores. The idea that I'm supposed to see a shade of gray in that and give Rossum the benefit of the doubt because occasionally they send one of their slaves out to do something nice always offended me, and also struck me as an instance of Joss Whedon not really anticipating the gamut of people's possible reactions to the premise--sure, he wanted to get a rise out of people, but he also wanted them to watch the show, and I know people who stopped watching entirely because they hated the slavery premise.

Man On the Street was the much-heralded "Joss" episode: he wrote it and it reflects his vision for the series. Well, all I can say is that I detested Joel Mynor and my one regret about Dollhouse's conclusion was that Echo never killed him. Here's a guy who rapes a brainwashed girl every year on the anniversary of his wife's death and I'm supposed to feel sympathy for him? I was (for once) on Ballard's side in that encounter and Mynor's smug, sleazy justifications had me wanting to reach through the screen and throttle him. Even worse, Echo decides she wants to go back to him--this man who wants to rape her--in the end. If that's the show Joss wanted to write, I wouldn't have been able to get on board with it, because I simply don't accept the premise: to me, what Topher does to these people is murder, and what the clients do to them is (often) rape. I saw no shades of gray in that and refused to accept any. I think Rossum is villainous and I think Fox was right to suggest playing that up. I did think the initial missions of the week were tedious, but I thought the missions of the week were tedious in season two as well. I just don't think the Dollhouse writers did that kind of thing very well.
Hellmouthguy, you're making quite the splash here in The Black. I think the second half of S2 fits in nicely with the list of shows you mentioned. I love them all. And I didn't say it was the best, I said it was "some of the best TV"

Also, I think it's a little funny that your post above talks about the show's concept as, "insular and offputting and potentially offensive to be the next big hit" when you mention a show like Dexter (a bonafide hit) as an example. Talk about a potentially offensive concept that has millions of viewers following the exploits of a serial killer.

The bottom line is that there is no accounting for taste and the public will buy anything that is well sold to them. To each his own but I wouldn't call Dollhouse, "a mess from top to bottom."
Hellmouthguy, opinion about Season 2 just posted (like it being somewhat invalidated as a great season just because of the Boyd reveal), noted, but all your posts further up about the bulk of the show's failings mostly falling on Joss' shoulders are incorrect. gossi and QuoterGal brought up why--the network bought the show, then meddled in it for at least five episodes, but enough to alter the course of what the show was originally intended to be, so it really wasn't just those five opening episodes that were effected. Who knows how it may've ended up, if Joss had pursued his vision of Dollhouse as originally imagined ? Maybe it would've been worse and we only would've gotten one season, or maybe it may've received critical acclaim earlier on due to a stronger set of opening, pure-Joss episodes. The fact is, the network bought the show based on the premise Joss sold them and then they didn't trust the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dr. Horrible, and writer of Toy Story, script doctor of Speed--should I go on ? Yeah, he's had some commercial failings (Firefly and Serenity), but his successes far outweigh his failures (keep in mind I'm talking commercial failures--I think quality-wise, Firefly/Serenity is way high up on his success list).

They should've been more trusting, it's not like they've shied away from other difficult subject matter (torture and terrorism on 24 ? So why the squeamishness about human trafficking and sexuality on Dollhouse ? Oh that's right, because they don't trust their viewers and they're as messed up as any other non-premium-cable network when it comes to the acceptability of violence vs. sex, fucking North American prudishness. Girl-on-girl stunt kiss okay, letting a show tackle genuine questions about sexuality and sexual exploitation as closely as torture, terrorism, and theoretical sci-fi US Foreign Policy, not cool. Fucked. Up. The blame lies with the network for not having any balls, in this case. They've taken risks before, Fox has had some of the quirkiest shows on TV in the past, and most of those may've failed--Wonderfalls, for example, but at least it got to air true to its creators' intentions--but they've also had success with outlandish concepts--24's real time was looked at suspiciously when it originally started...so sometimes their risks pay off).

Back on topic, I like that it was Joss behind most (if not all?) of Adelle's lines. Wipes away the complaint of, "Why didn't he write more episodes?" He was there all along (potential allusion to Jesus not intended).

[ edited by Kris on 2010-02-23 22:39 ]
First off, four is a terrible number and everyone knows it. He should do five, at least.

Second, I would say Dollhouse failed for million and one reasons, it's wearing on me just thinking about it. But it's worth noting that plenty of us (pre- and post-Dollhouse Whedonites) can all attest to its successes being both more important and much, much more enduring.

Also- comparative analysis of Adelle DeWitt and Ruth Lang? Yes thank you, and may I have some more...
ETA: Damned doubles. That's what I get for trying to post via cell from a Home Depot. *sigh*

[ edited by GoldDust12 on 2010-02-23 22:43 ]
I agree with 11th Hour: I think that Joss' best work is in a long running format where he can take his time with character development and stories that play off of plot hints given years earlier. In other words, television. But I hope to see him on one of the cable channels or even premium (HBO or Showtime) channels instead of the increasingly obsolete network channels.

However, even though I hope Olivia Williams is wrong I did enjoy the interview and I'm really looking forward to seeing her work in 'The Ghost Writer'.
It seems pointless to argue the quality, when that's so subjective. What one person calls fantastic, I could call crap. Every show has fans that will adore it, but if those potential fans are never able to find it, then none of it matters.
Finally somebody mentions Farscape's greatness on here.


Crichton and Aeryn's romance was one of the great television story-arcs. And Farscape had guts: they never took the easy way out and they always surprised you. What other sc-fi show would give you a duplicate of one of the characters and actually keep the duplicate around when the episode ends? (Buffy and Star Trek both took the easy way out; Farscape gave us two Crichtons for half a season.) The sad thing about Farscape is the sheer number of people who won't give the show a chance because they can't get past the puppets. To which I say: aliens are a lot more likely to look like Rygel and Pilot than they are to look like Vulcans and Klingons, and Rygel, a puppet, is a more fully developed and mature character than most of the characters science-fiction shows give us.
Hated Farscape. Loved Babylon 5. Quality is always subjective.

The reality is FOX picked up Dollhouse, gave them 2 million for the set and a 7 episode order, a prime slot (Monday nights) and pairing with 24 because they thought they were buying a TV hit. Any show where the themes are exploitation and the premise of the show is designed to sincerely test the audience is never going to be a 24 replacement hit. That's not Joss' fault, it's Kev Reilly and friends fault for not spotting it and approaching it accordingly. Joss is there to provide the story, the network is there to package it and sell the idea the package is awesome. So people want to peak at it.

[ edited by gossi on 2010-02-23 23:00 ]
Interesting, gossi.
@Frick, I find TVBtN to be pretty untrustworthy as a predictor. CBS has consistently reported the show as a hit and it has averaged a 3.0 in the 18-49 demo and 13.7M viewers. That is great for CBS and is almost a 10% increase over the the prior year's timeslot in adult 18-49. 3.0 on CBS is CSI numbers.

TVBtN keeps talking about Fringe being in danger too and that simply isn't true. They look at averages for the network when coming up with their magical list instead of previous season timeslot comparisons which is what the networks look at (among 100 other considerations that TVBtN never has access to).

On topic, loved Dollhouse to itty bitty pieces (including the first eps), blame Fox for meddling and crappy promotion, and blame the US audience for not wanting to explore the same issues that Joss wanted to explore. I hope Joss comes back to TV and finds a lovely home on cable and that the article linked here was simply quoting the lovely Olivia out of context.
I agree that Joss needs long time to make loving story arcs... but I'm just going by Serenity. We haven't really seen a fresh film by him (Toy Story doesn't count, right?), so how could we know how he'll be? Hopefully he'll be another Diablo Cody (except with more tendency towards superpowers).
By the way, I'm not saying FOX are a bad company or any of that guff. They wanted to mold Dollhouse to fit their image. Which is fine; all networks are aiming for something, and creators should cater for that. The problem with FOX, I believe - and I said this to somebody there after they pulled the plug on Dollhouse 'cos I'm actually that arrogant - is that FOX thinks it's The Action Network. It's really not. FOX's success is not in founded in that branding. They should aim for smart TV as their brand, or something along those lines. They have a really diverse selection of great shows - Glee, House, Fringe - and the constant force of the development process turning into 'make something explode!' hurts things.

They should have taken a step back from Dollhouse earlier, in my mind, and really put the effort into promotion. If they could have got the word out about Dollhouse and created a strong brand, they would have made a lot of money on international sales and DVD.

[ edited by gossi on 2010-02-23 23:36 ]
While we're overviewing Dollhouse, as I never had the chance to write in the wonderful weekly episode commentses, I'd like to say that while everyone was clamouring for 'more arc' all I wanted was more intimacy. I couldn't care less about the mythology, just give me more of Topher and Saunders, or Topher and Boyd, or Dominic and DeWitt when she breaks him. I felt not a thing learning that Priya was raped or that Caroline was an activist with special spinal fluid, but I liked the brief moments they connected with someone.

Sounds dirty but all I want is Whedon-penned soap opera. Remember Buffy or Angel or Firefly where the characters gathered and chatted offtopically to each other? It felt nice. I'll get my 'arc' from real life thanks.
USA might be the last home on TV for the kind of cheesy fun Buffy was in its first season.

Gossi wrote:
I'd still like to see a Joss broadcast sitcom.


Yeah, I would love that too. Not sure how it would work out, but it could be brilliant.

I would most like Joss to do some more TV work, though dr. Horrible like projects would be a very close second. If he does go on to try movies again, I think I'd want him to be aiming a little bit less for a blockbuster than he's been trying so far (like with Serenity and Wonder Woman, don't really know about Goners.)

Though of course he should do exactly as he wants and I will almost surely follow.

ETA:

Kris wrote:
Back on topic, I like that it was Joss behind most (if not all?) of Adelle's lines.


Yeah, I loved that comment too. (esp. since Adelle's were my favorite lines)

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2010-02-24 00:20 ]
I don't think Joss has had an issue with his vision for movies being too blockbuster. Which is not a complaint on my part, since I don't like most blockbusters. If anything Wonder Woman seemed to have the opposite problem, judging by reviews of the script that was picked up from someone else.

I think Cabin might go big though. Which will be neat to watch if so.
When it comes to the Next Project, I adopt my tried and tested 'Joss will lead and I will follow' approach. Joss has never actually let me down, ever. I utterly trust his judgement when it comes to making something entertaining in the months and years to come. If he becomes a big-shot movie director, he'll probably be making films I'll like because I believe he'll be working towards something I'll probably appreciate. If he sticks to TV or pioneers the internet, I'll be there for that too. Not because I accept anything he produces without question, but because I love everything that rests on my Mutant Enemy shelf on its own merits.

(Also, nice to know that he wrote possibly my favourite scene in the entire series. "You, Topher, were chosen because you have no morals.")
I'm pretty sure I've read interviews with Joss before where he's said he wants to helm big summer blockbusters.
(nuccbko) ...Hellmouthguy, I think saying things that Dollhouse didn't work for "a significant portion of Joss Whedon's own fanbase" is not really an accurate representation of fan reaction....


Man, I wish I had read that before signing on and choosing a user name! It just came to me: "Fan reaction"! Perfect!

Ahem. Anyway.

I wonder how accurate Olivia's assessment of Joss's feelings is. Joss himself said in an interview (about the streamy award, I think) that TV is still the right canvas for his work (as opposed to working on the web).

And in the interviews I read he seemed to be thankful for the two season run they had - and not very upset.

I think TV is the right Medium for Joss. Not because he can't do other things - Dr. Horrible is amazing and Serenity was beyond awesome (I don't know any of the comics). But what I enjoy most about his work is the writing and the imagination. And I want more of that than just a movie every year (or so).
For the record, I doubt Olivia is right at all.
So no one actually talked about this, but Joss wrote all of Adelle's dialogue? All of it? That actually explains a lot--there is often a quality differential in Adelle's scenes vs. other characters' scenes, and it also suggests a great deal of rewriting on Joss' part, which explains why he wrote so few actual episodes.

And I'm actually kind of heartened to hear that Joss was devastated about the cancellation. (I'm a bad person, I guess.) I figured he would be, but there have been some comments here and there I've read (not necessarily on Whedonesque, but in general) about this show not being one that Whedon cared about--which I've always felt isn't true.

I'm not going to get into the debate about the quality, because I'm still filled with mixed feelings and disappointments and don't want to open any (of my) wounds before they've healed over. I will say that I think the first season of Dollhouse is head and shoulders above the first season of Buffy and the first season of Angel, besides maybe the Faith episodes at the season's end.

[ edited by WilliamTheB on 2010-02-24 00:39 ]
I didn't meant Joss movies turn out too blockbuster-like. The only problem I have with Joss movies is that they didn't get made. Possibly because his movies didn't really turn out like the blockbusters they were assumed to be. Maybe if he did something entirely different, there wouldn't be these "blockbuster" expectations on anyone's part and the movie would get made easier and have less trouble finding an audience. People like Woody Allen, Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, etc. all get these type of movies made.

However I will just follow redders wise words and trust in Joss.

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2010-02-24 00:52 ]
Okay, I think we need to stop all the attacking on each other and agree to disagree about Fox, Joss, and Dollhouse. It's getting a little viscous up in here, and remember, we all have different opinions, values, and morals, and we just have to respect that. =)

It's up to the big purple man what he wants to do with his career. All we can do is wait and see, and support him if we want to.
This is probably one of the calmer threads about Dollhizzy, katie. We're a rabbley bunch. And yes: I'm not quite sure what that means either.

As for most of Joss' movies not getting made; I think that's a Hollywood thing, more than a Joss thing. To quote (just BAFTA winner scriptwriter of An Education) Nick Hornby - "95% of movies don't get made". And those that do end up in production take an average of 7 or so years to get there. Which, I suspect, is why Joss wants an internet studio.
This? This thread ain't nothing. I don't mind a little contention now and then - it flushes out the tubes - it's the old personal attacks (and flawed logic) that get to me every time.

BTW, I don't think any sane person would seriously suggest that Joss' career is up to anyone but Joss - naturally. But it's also natural that folks base what they would like to see Joss doing in the future on what they have enjoyed in the past, and speculating thereupon.

Welcome to the new folk. There is plenty of room for all, and subjects too numerous to mention here that will be eventually discussed. Have a high old time.

Moi? I wish Universal would release Goners back into the wild.

And I'd like, you know, a pony and a plastic rocket, yada yada.

BTW, I recall reading in an earlier interview somewhere that Joss especially liked writing Adelle's dialogue, so I kinda assumed therefore that he did. I mean, if the Boss likes doing something in particular, I suspect he gets to do that little thing...

I'm pretty sure - and I don't mind - that we won't get a sitcom from Joss anytime... ever. Though he could do something awesomely-awesome and slightly sitcomish, like The Office, his experiences with TV-ville would no doubt make him dread being boxed in to re-set TV - and he would dislike that intensely.
He was going to make a sitcom years ago (about the writers of B-grade horror movies) but he said the only reason he didn't was that he didn't get the voices of the characters right. I'd love to see a Joss sitcom actually and it wouldn't necessarily have to be reset tv
Sitcoms can be seen as sliding down the Hollywood ladder. But then, Joss explored DVD features, which is seen as fall off the Hollywood ladder. I'm a fan of Joss' work, and I like the guy for the simple fact that one day there's nothing happening, and the next - oh, by the way, he's shooting an internet musical. In reality the sitcom thing is just my little Kev-brain wanting something. I suspect we'll see a bunch of internet shorts emerge from jw's wickle mind sometime. And somebody close to Joss will cast Enver soon in something. That's mah kra-zy prediction, y'all.

[ edited by gossi on 2010-02-24 01:41 ]
Right, Let Down - as I suggested above, I don't imagine he'd do a sitcom per se, but something more along the lines of The Office - this is among the many things he's said about the subject:

"For a show that isn't serialized, you created a tremendous amount of character development and movement and it unfolds over the course of episodes to where it becomes a character journey.

The thing is, I've never been able to make reset TV. I've never understood it and I've never liked it. I cannot just have people get kidnapped and then next week be all chipper so they can have their next adventure. I find that offensive and bizarre and as a kid it would frighten me, it would confuse me. "But he was engaged in the last episode, why isn't he talking about his dead girlfriend?" It's just not the way I operate. That doesn't mean I need to tell some serpentine tale, it just means that if something happens to somebody, they're going to be a different person. That's just how it is. People evolve, and that's the only kind of storytelling that interests me. By the time we got to Firefly, I was still telling a story a week. It was in fact, at that point, the network's mandate was that you have to add an overarching story. It can't just be these people trying to get by every week. You have to have a giant, big plot thing surrounding them. And that's why the blue-handed fellows showed up in the first episode after the pilot, because that was one of their mandates. "Now the stuff we used to not want, we want."

Could you make a TV show that didn't have that kind of development?

No, I couldn't. I'm in the office of The Office right now and it is absolutely just a breezy, slice-of-life comedy that is not in any way pretentious or in any way trying to string you along, but it is absolutely about the characters' development. Every week that whatever they go through, it resonates. They always call back to it, it makes them change, and the show's gone through an enormous amount in its two-and-a-half seasons. And that's part of what I like about the show, the reality of it. I could never make simple, straight-up reset TV. I just don't have it in me. That's not about people to me and people are pretty much the only thing I'm interested in writing about."
- Joss Whedon and the Vampire Detectives

A "sitcom" obviously wouldn't have to mean re-set TV, but I don't imagine his Fox/Dollhouse experiences have made him very sanguine about either network understanding or network promises.

Yeah, gossi - I also believe we'll see Enver in a Joss-and-friends something almost instantly.
In fairness, sitcoms don't have to be reset. Joss loves HIMYM, I seem to recall. 'cos it's awesome. It's about that time of your life where nothing means everything. It's about growing up in your 20s and 30s. Like Dollhouse, actually.
Yuppity-sir, that's what this wot I said:

A "sitcom" obviously wouldn't have to mean re-set TV

translates into in the original English.

; >

By the way, I haven't mentioned it before, but I love reading interviews with Olivia - she's so earthy - the exact opposite of someone with a rod up her arse.
If Joss could pull the kind of numbers on cable that he pulled on network TV, it would be viewed as a triumph. They might be bad for a network, but they would have value on cable.

But (as I think has been said here before) it likely woudn't get near those numbers on cable. People have to pay extra for HBO and such.

I came to like the second season of Dollhouse, but I'd rather watch Buffy or Angel (any season) or Firefly over it any day. Chaque un a son gout.

Maybe Joss will start writing novels. I'd like to read one of those.
Dollhouse was the most brilliant TV series ever and the epic fail is entirely and exclusively on Fox for f***ing DH and Joss by ordering and airing two seasons. Did I get that right?
Honestly, I think Dollhouse will not be remembered particularly well not because of FOX meddling (I thought those first five episodes were pretty good even though the show got much better) but because of the utter disaster that was the final 3 episodes of season 2. Corny, conventional and very badly written there were few redeeming features. I hate to say this because up until the end I thought Dollhouse was a stunning achievement - but for me the huge screw-up at the end places Dollhouse firmly at the weakest of Joss's shows and noone can be blamed for that except Joss and his writers.
We all have to agree though, despite all this madness, that we got Enver and Dichen out of all these shenanigans. And come on, who doesn't love them? *waits for loaded question to backfire on self*

I am majorly in (platonic, not creepy obsessive) love with Enver. The Left Hand sealed that deal for me. So we got something good, eh?

Also, I know how cray cray it can get up in here since I've been a lurker for years. I clearly remember the Dr. Horrible posts from the third act, Hoo wee! I've just never got a say before.

[ edited by katiegrrl1016 on 2010-02-24 03:56 ]
Maybe Joss will start writing novels. I'd like to read one of those.


That. Would. Be. Awesome.

Imagine reading a 100,000 word joss post!
I love discovering that Joss wrote all of Adelle's scenes--that's the kind of behind-the-scenes detail I live for in fandom.

[ edited by Emmie on 2010-02-24 05:15 ]
I vote for Internet TV. Long-form, weekly (or bi-weekly? just more than only once a month) episodic online television.

This is a vote, right? We get do to choose Joss' next venture, right?
I vote for multiple mini series (of about 10 episodes each) on cable.

Oh, who am I kidding?! I'll watch whatever he puts on my (small, big, or computer) screen. I'll also drive to LA to watch any theater production of his, and read anything in non-comic format. Comics is where I have to draw the line, though. I either want my stories to be told by lovely actors or use my imagination reading lovely words.
That's Olivia's opinion. Good grief, he knows what the score is in dealing with the industry. I prefer to believe Joss will move to cable where he'll have more of a chance to do genre work that he wants to do. Maybe if I say this a kajillion billion trillion times, the opposite will happen: TV without Joss will be a desert wasteland of monumental proportions and I will be désolé.
Add me to the episodic online television bandwagon; the concept of broadcast television (cable and network) is antiquated anyway.
@Let Down I sadly agree. I was one of Dollhouse's most enthusiastic defenders but season two was a complete mess (especially the last few episodes), in my opinion.
Remember when Joss said he would never work with FOX again? Things change, surprises happen. I don't think we should get bent out of shape over speculation.

That said, I reaaaalllly hope he does make more TV.

ETA: But not with FOX.

[ edited by ShanshuBugaboo on 2010-02-24 06:07 ]
I love discovering that Joss wrote all of Adelle's scenes--that's the kind of behind-the-scenes detail I live for in fandom.

Yeah I was pleasantly surprised by that too. Adelle is my favourite character from DH and there's not a single scene of hers that I don’t love. Part of that is due to Olivia's flawless acting and amazing talent, and now I can accredit the rest to Joss. Bravo!
Definitely an interesting interview, my thanks to Simon for posting. I don't doubt that she believes that Joss is done with TV, but as far as we know, it's only her impression. It's possible that Joss may have made the remark in the heat of the moment, or it may be something that he's said before, but later changed his mind about. Or the circumstances could change. As others have said, he hadn't wanted to work with Fox ever again prior to Dollhouse. While it was an unusual path that got him to the point where he was working with them again, that is what happened. Personally, I have quite liked what he has done with the television medium and do hope that he's not yet done with it.

As to Fox? In my view, as someone with zero industry connections but a long history of observing how Fox has handled their shows, I think that it is entirely possible that Fox was both extra helpful AND hurtful to Dollhouse. I've been paying attention to them since the 1993-94 Season. Their advertising "strategy" is not at all new and it really does seem to me that the Network's individual departments can easily work at cross-purposes to each other.

As gossi said, they did buy the show in the first place. And that's not at all new, they have a long history of buying a number of original, interesting and distinct shows. I give them a lot of credit for taking chances on programs that I don't believe that other Networks would have. Unfortunately, their advertising division has then turned out some truly atrocious promotional campaigns. There are more than a few Fox shows that I had to work up a lot of courage to watch based on their ads, even though I had previously been excited for those programs. It happened with most of the Dollhouse promos, but I was also quite turned off by the ads for Drive, Firefly, and several others.

I do believe that Fox did a lot more to support Dollhouse than they have with many past shows. They just canceled one new show, Past Life, after airing only 3 Episodes. Drive was canceled after 2 or 3 (?), with only 4 shown. They've had a fair number of programs that have seemed very enjoyable to me, but for a variety of reasons, were given much less of a chance than Dollhouse was. Wonderfalls, Firefly, Reunion, and Pasadena are easy examples to me of shows that deserved better support, but none of them aired more than a dozen episodes.

I don't know to what degree Fox meddled in Dollhouse and how much their _______ (help or interference) contributed to Dollhouse's demise. Maybe they had some valid points, maybe their way was the only chance that Dollhouse had to be commercially viable, or maybe they doomed the show? All that I know for certain is that wherever the truth lies, they did better by Dollhouse than they have for many other shows in the past. In addition to those I've previously mentioned, here are some other examples:

Example 1) Look at how they handled Firefly.
Example 2) They took a show created and run by Carlton Cuse, starring Bruce Campbell in his prime, exiled it to Friday's from the beginning and canceled it after only one Season (The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.).
Example 3) They canceled a thoughtful and intelligent show about college solely because the original 90210 crowd was graduating high school and they didn't want two 'college' shows on at the same time (Class of '96).

Since it's far too late for me to make this a short post, let me also say that while a good number of shows have been great from the beginning, that's never a guarantee of anything. Imo, the first 14 episodes of Firefly are superior to the first 14 of Buffy, Angel or Dollhouse and yet that proved to be of no help to them. There are plenty of examples of shows that started strong (imo at least) but were canceled in two Seasons or less. Meanwhile, look at the first half dozen episodes of Star Trek: TNG. They were really still figuring things out and there was some quite clunky dialogue, but that show went on to find a few fans and a bit of success. I'd place Buffy in the same category. I went in having been spoiled as to quite a few things and having been promised that it would get better, I had even seen "The Body" first, so I knew that the tone would get much more serious, but if not for that, then I really don't know that I would have liked it enough to stick around. While I liked Babylon 5 from the start then many people don't get into it until the end of S1, or the middle of S2. I've heard the same said about Farscape. Those are several shows that took a while to find their way (at least for many viewers), but once they did, then they had fair-sized to lengthy runs and improved in quality quite a bit. The fact that Dollhouse started weakly was nothing to celebrate, but other shows have recovered after having stumbled out of the gate.
I love Olivia'a interviews (especially the one where she praised our weekly episode threads) :). But I'm assuming (add hoping and praying) that she's wrong about this. A lot of the same "never again" stuff was said in the early days of hurt and anger over Firefly.
Dearest Joss, a cable series next, please.

it just never really worked for the majority of viewers out there, and also for a significant portion of Joss Whedon's own fanbase,
Hellmouthguy | February 23, 21:23 CET


That is simply not true, as a complete reading of the weekly episode comments here will bear out, as well as perusing the online reviews from sites linked here on various threads, throughout the life of the show.
And as for the Fox having no blame, their lack of promotion was criminal. I'd like to see what would have happened if Dollhouse had been promoted like "V".

Not to say promotion was the only factor. I think we can all agree that FOX did not believe in the project from the start. This is not blind worship talking.
alcabongTV | February 23, 21:04 CET


Amen. And verified by Joss himself:

“The problems that the show encountered weren’t standalone versus mythology [episodes],” Whedon said. “Basically, the show didn’t really get off the ground because the network pretty much wanted to back away from the concept five minutes after they bought it." - "Sex, secrets and 'Dollhouse': Joss Whedon talks about the end of his Fox show"
(Thanks QuoterGal)

.Well, this isn't a Dollhouse critique thread, so I don't want to write a treatise here


Really??? You haven't already? Well I guess not, since a treatise by it's nature looks at it's subject objectively, rather than presenting only one highly subjective, negative point of view.

I may just write an in-depth review of the show, mostly as a way to get some of the more offensive elements out of my system
Hellmouthguy | February 23, 22:15 CET



You mean you're planning on getting more offensive? Can't wait. I'm wondering
(1) if you joined for any reason other than to bash Dollhouse and (2) if "IMO" is a foreign concept to you, when posting comments.

IMO: although I adore BtS, 99% of season 1 and maybe 40% of season 2 was totally cheesy. In the same amount of time, dollhouse produced, against all odds, mature, brave and deeply disturbing/thought provoking TV.

(And Farscape may be the cheesiest Scifi show ever on American TV.)
IMO, of course. :)
And sure, Fox did give the show a second chance. But they should never have ordered 7 episodes off of the bat without seeing a pilot. This is Joss Whedon, they knew should have known it wouldn't just have been Eliza shooting people in a dominatrix outfit.


I completely agree, but I don't see Joss being the victim in that situation, I see Fox shooting themselves in the foot. I think Kevin Reilly wanted to work with Joss and he thought Joss + Eliza was a win-win. I think he loved Joss's pitch. That's the first problem: you can believe that Fox just covered their ears and shouted La-la-la-la-la! when Joss mentioned that the show was going to be about human traffickers and the fact that maybe they aren't completely evil people, and maybe the clients who use these brainwashed slaves aren't evil either, and let's explore that. Or you can believe that Joss didn't express himself clearly enough in the pitch and maybe played up the action angle and the "Eliza will be a different person every week" angle, and didn't stress the human trafficking + prostitution angles enough, and led Fox to believe that the show they were getting was a different show than he wanted to write. We'll never know what exactly Joss pitched. But ordering seven episodes without seeing a pilot was a leap of faith Fox should not have taken. It worked out badly for them and also for the show, because then Fox felt compelled to meddle with it in production. If they had simply ordered a pilot instead they could have quietly passed on it and Joss wouldn't have banged his head against a wall for two years.

(edited to eliminate an errant quote)

[ edited by Hellmouthguy on 2010-02-24 16:52 ]
The bottom line is that there is no accounting for taste and the public will buy anything that is well sold to them. To each his own but I wouldn't call Dollhouse, "a mess from top to bottom."


There is definitely no accounting for taste and I don't begrudge any of the Dollhouse fans their admiration for the show. But I do indeed think it was a mess from top to bottom and that's a long, rambling essay I'll probably write at some point. Suffice to say I think the concept wasn't workable as presented, the plotting was slipshod and full of holes, the stories were often boring, and certain roles should have been recast. I do hope Enver Gjokaj finds a new gig though. The man is talented, and not just at mimicry, there's some great emotional honesty there. (But that's another big problem--he regularly eclipsed the show's lead and he wasn't the only one who eclipsed her.)
I'm going to round up a whole bunch of quotes...

but all your posts further up about the bulk of the show's failings mostly falling on Joss' shoulders are incorrect. gossi and QuoterGal brought up why--the network bought the show, then meddled in it for at least five episodes, but enough to alter the course of what the show was originally intended to be, so it really wasn't just those five opening episodes that were effected.


Yes, but Fox didn't write the episodes. I know that sounds glib, but there it is. Fox gave Joss and his writers certain parameters but at the end of the day the plot holes, the boring missions of the week, the contrivance and offensiveness built into the concept itself, the fact that the main character was a brainwashed cipher, the fact that Ballard's character failed to connect or be interesting at all, all these problems and scores more come down to the writers and producers, not Fox. As to questions of Fox prudishness, I was regularly offended by Dollhouse and I don't consider myself a prude. Even though the Boyd reveal was ridiculous on its face I still applauded the fact that he was revealed as a villain because I couldn't ever stomach the idea that I was supposed to root for him as a hero. He protected Echo, sure. He protected her so he could deliver her to her next client. He sat in the van drinking coffee while she was raped. Harsh words, sure--but they illustrate that it is very possible for non-prudish people (I am not by any means a prude) to be offended by this show's concept and characters.

Hated Farscape. Loved Babylon 5. Quality is always subjective.


Gossi, you are obviously my evil doppelganger. I watched the first hour of Babylon 5 and then turned it off because I didn't think the captain guy could act. I liked the bald woman, but she wasn't enough when the lead of the show was so wooden.

and blame the US audience for not wanting to explore the same issues that Joss wanted to explore.


TV is a mass medium and Joss knows this. He's trying to appeal to many millions of people. If the work doesn't appeal, he has no one to blame but himself. (And Joss has never blamed the audience for the failure of Dollhouse, by the way. He has been candid in interviews about the fact that the show alienated viewers. It alienated the hell out of me and I loved Buffy and Angel. Only a certain number of his fans blame the audience, which is sort of like standing in the middle of Times Square with a billboard and shouting at people: you're not going to win converts that way.) Blaming the audience instead of changing your approach really isn't going to help. Joss should probably move to cable.

Honestly, I think Dollhouse will not be remembered particularly well not because of FOX meddling (I thought those first five episodes were pretty good even though the show got much better) but because of the utter disaster that was the final 3 episodes of season 2.


I really was flabbrgasted by the intellectual dishonesty of the Boyd reveal. It was as if the show had suddenly become fanfiction. Buffy was loaded with weak plotting and contrivances but Boyd was a whole other level. I'm glad he was revealed as a villain, but the head of Rossum? It makes sense not at all. And the headlong rush to wrap up the show's mythology was damaging; Topher presses a Magic Reset Button and everyone's cured? Bad Writing 101. (But then, Angel just happening to show up with a magic amulet that can kill 1000 ubervamps in the final episode of Buffy was the same exact thing.)

(quoting me): "it just never really worked for the majority of viewers out there, and also for a significant portion of Joss Whedon's own fanbase..."

That is simply not true, as a complete reading of the weekly episode comments here will bear out, as well as perusing the online reviews from sites linked here on various threads, throughout the life of the show.


That presupposes that the majority of Joss Whedon's fanbase resides here on Whedonesque, or on various online sites. Joss has millions of fans, judging by his viewership numbers, and the internet chat rooms and review sites probably don't represent a tenth of that number. Buffy did better than five million viewers I believe; Dollhouse ended up with two-million after starting out with more than four-million. It seems to me that casual viewers weren't the only ones walking away.

You mean you're planning on getting more offensive?


Okay...apparently I'm under attack. I'm going to ignore the rest of this and just say that I don't think disliking Dollhouse automatically makes me offensive, that it should be obvious that anything anyone writes is "imo", that I've commented on other threads besides this one, and that I've presented my views objectively and without getting personal.
Hellmouthguy, while i agree the lead was eclipsed in Dollhouse, IMO,
the leads in Joss' shows were always the weak link. I shudder at DB's
huffing as 'emoting'.
Oh, Hellmouthguy you're you. I came across your site a while ago. I really enjoyed your reviews and vehemently disagreed with you about everything. Any plans to keep going with them?

Hellmouthguy, while i agree the lead was eclipsed in Dollhouse, IMO,
the leads in Joss' shows were always the weak link.


Yeah, except in Firely
Oh, Hellmouthguy you're you. I came across your site a while ago. I really enjoyed your reviews and vehemently disagreed with you about everything. Any plans to keep going with them?


Hi, Let Down--Yes, I'm me. Except when I've had too much soda. (Seriously--stay away from aspartame, people.) I do intend to get back to the reviews, the problem was that I needed to step back for a bit. The terrible specter of Buffy season seven was looming over my Buffy season two reviews and making me...not uncharitable, not bitchy exactly, but it was definitely damaging my perspective. Having seen the whole series, it's difficult to review earlier episodes in a vacuum, but that is exactly what I need to do--to take them on their own merits. Also, the Buffy novels I'm working on always take precedence and book four has been a bear. I'd love to hear your disagreements with me about every single thing--that sounds like a fun e-mail! (Are you a Xander person? I've taken some flack from the Xander people...)
Hellmouthguy, while i agree the lead was eclipsed in Dollhouse, IMO, the leads in Joss' shows were always the weak link. I shudder at DB's huffing as 'emoting'.


I actually really like Eliza--she's one of the reasons I kept watching. She has charm. And I don't think her performances were as ineffective as some people apparently do--I thought she was great, for example, as Joel Mynor's wife and as the woman trying to solve her own murder. Eliza's problem for me, if you want to call it a problem, is her unique voice: it's wonderful but it makes it difficult for me to not think, "this is Eliza Dushku in an outfit". I just don't think Dollhouse was the right vehicle for her and I hope she bounces back with something completely different soon. As for DB, I don't think he has the acting chops of, say, James Marsters or Juliet Landau or SMG, but he also has a great deal of charm: he's just fun to watch. And though I had a hard time believing him when he was trying to play certain emotions, he always knocked it out of the park when he was brooding, or playing Angelus. He's pretty neat on Bones too.
Joss has millions of fans, judging by his viewership numbers, and the internet chat rooms and review sites probably don't represent a tenth of that number


Most people do not tune in to watch Buffy, Angel, Firefly etc because they are a fan of Joss. Most people don't even know who he is. I'd put his fanbase in the 10,000s if that.

But anyway if we could get back to discussing Joss' future plans then that would be lovely. As this thread does seem to have got somewhat sidetracked.
And there are more of them % to population in the UK and Australia then the US methinks.

I have no way to prove this mind you!

And you're right Simon, people might quite like some of his work but wouldn't have a clue about who wrote them.

Hellmouthguy - I seem to remember that Joss said something along the lines of he would prefer to make stories that a few people love rather than stories that loads of people like. I don't think he's after millions of viewers and I think that's where he and network TV have a fundemental problem with each other.

[ edited by bubblecat on 2010-02-24 17:06 ]
Will Joss ever do another TV show? Answer: Under the right conditions, why wouldn't he? I doubt he has taken a solemn vow never to go near television again (and even if he has, who's to hold him to it if he changes his mind?).

The whole Dollhouse chapter in Joss's TV career is proving to be fascinating. No other Joss-TV project has generated so much consternation and contention. TV reviewers were divided. Posters here are divided (love it, hate it, OMG! meh ...). The quality debate in itself is fascinating.

But apart from any issues with the show's quality or the network's marketing, I think there's much to learn from looking closely at the differences in the network TV landscape today as compared with the landscape 13 years ago when Buffy first aired. Would Buffy have survived on Fox or ABC had it not been carried by the fledgling WB (and later, the fledgling UPN), where presumably a small but stable audience could be tolerated? How much more difficult is it in today's TV landscape -- with increased competition from all kinds of venues -- to attract and retain viewers than in 1997? There's much in the economics of producing TV shows and in the dynamics of audience preferences that could explain both Buffy's success and Dollhouse's (relative) failure.
Well now I'm awfully curious - Who Is Hellmouthguy? I'd be interested to read your reviews. I had a very mixed reaction to Dollhouse, mostly love, sometimes lukewarm, occasionally eye-rolly, but I am totally on board with this, re. Boyd:

It was a thunderously, earth-shatteringly preposterous contrivance. It was a Boyd ex machina. You could actually see the little strings attached to Boyd as the writers yanked his character around.


There were eps I didn't love, but that Boyd reveal was so dumb (IMO! IMO!) that it actually made me mad. Which is silly, obviously. And I agree with the Eliza = Major Charm and a Very Distinctive "voice", though I thought Dollhouse really was a good vehicle for her... it just wasn't always a good show. But when it was good, it was So Very Good. And I would watch her in anything.

And Quotergal you are being particularly Quotergally in this thread - yay!

Hello to the new whedonesquers, and please don't leave TV behind ya, Joss. I like TV and I like Joss and I think they should get married so I can hang out with them together all the time.
Here's a random notion: didn't I once hear Joss saying that Dollhouse was under a microscope, and suffered for it?

Maybe he's already hard at work on something else entirely and not telling us about it, for exactly that reason.
Well now I'm awfully curious - Who Is Hellmouthguy?


Hi, Catherine. I'm a fan of Buffy and Angel (haven't actually seen Firefly, don't hurt me!) and I got so deeply into the shows that I started writing fanfic and I also decided to start reviewing them (the reviews are long because I'm very wordy and badly in need of an editor, and currently I'm working through season two.) I started the fanfic novels because I detested Buffy's last season, frankly: I hated what Buffy Summers had become by then and I wanted to do my own takes on the characters and the mythology. Even though I thought season seven of Buffy an outright failure and I thought season six was only marginally better, I've always loved these brilliant characters and I enjoy asking "what if?" questions. I won't hype my site here, but you can find the link by clicking on my name and checking my info. I agree about watching Eliza in anything: she just has a kind of magnetism. I just think that unfortunately, Dollhouse exposed some of her limitations and gave her a lot of (unfair in many cases) bad press. I think she hit it out of the park on occasion but she also struck out on occasion (I never for a second believed Miss Penn, and a number of the other roles seemed to be simply variations on Eliza being Eliza--Stage Fright comes to mind) and I really think she would have been a better fit in the Ballard role. But I still love watching her and I'm hoping she gets a new series soon. And yes, Boyd reveal...sigh. It was a cheat.
(haven't actually seen Firefly, don't hurt me!)

Uh oh. I might have to hurt you. Get thee to amazon!

I'll check out your site when I don't have a baby pawing at my keyboard. Welcome to here!
Catherine: "And Quotergal you are being particularly Quotergally in this thread - yay!"

; > I'm just wired that way.

Yay for babies on keyboards. ; > And long time no see.
ghaw - i love these long discursive threads, so many smart and passionate people here.
i would love to see Joss do something on cable, specifically (and i've said this before) an adaptation of Terry Moore's Strangers In Paradise so he'd basically be bringing my favorite graphic story to the screen without dedicating all his creativity and intellect to concept and plot. because i'm selfish like that. but as a bonus he would have the brain space and energy for movies, comics, and webthingies.
i also think Eliza should be in the Dr Horrible sequel because i'd love to hear her sing more.
Today's most "Shakespearean" writer needs a stage - wherever.

Couldn't we fans subscribe in some way to forthcoming projects and thus finance them?
cleveland, I'm terrified of the day when fans really do own Whedon rather than just thinking they do. No good can come of that.
I wouldn't want to see Whedon adapting anyone else's work to the screen because he's so bloody brilliant himself; his strength lies in long, complex character and story arcs and I want to see him do that, and his OWN long, complex character and story arcs.

Sadly this means he has to be working in a serial medium. TV is the only one around at the moment. He's not a short-story writer, and that's what feature films are.
Couldn't we fans subscribe in some way to forthcoming projects and thus finance them?


I have reservations about that idea but didn't Kevin Smith float that balloon a couple of months back?
Even worse, Echo decides she wants to go back to him--this man who wants to rape her--in the end.


Correct me if I'm wrong, Hellmouthguy, but if she's choosing to go back to him, it's not really rape, is it?
Correct me if I'm wrong, Hellmouthguy, but if she's choosing to go back to him, it's not really rape, is it?

It may not be rape anymore, but that doesn't change the fact that their relationship was originally based on sex wherein one of the party's ability to consent or not was being actively repressed.
@ TamaraC: You are certainly right, that would be a bad thing, given the roar and barreling about certain storylines and character deaths. And you think a subscription system would do this? Maybe my idea was too simplistic.
Erm, Paul was definitely having some iffy heroic fantasies of rescuing (and then sleeping with) Caroline, but he had no feelings toward Echo/wasn't aware that a doll could have its own personality or even really aware of what a doll was until maybe "Man on the Street". Paul and Caroline never had a "relationship [that] was originally based on sex wherein one of the party's ability to consent or not was being actively repressed." Arguably, Paul betrayed Caroline by messing around with Echo (or nearly messing around ? I forget if they had sex in "Meet Jane Doe", but I'm leaning toward "no"), but the whole existence, self-awareness, and self-asserting nature of Echo complicates things immensely.

In a black and white view of it, Echo should be erased--regardless of how much she's grown into her own individual being, or at least a version of Caroline + some of the other personalities--but Dollhouse wasn't nearly that simple, not from what I saw.

You could find a way to get to "Paul wants to rape Caroline", but I don't think you could say the same with his intentions and behaviour toward Echo. They sure looked like they were on equal footing to me, Echo had the ability to consent or not (whether she had the right to do that, or anything else--even non-sex-related--with Caroline's body, I suppose is up for debate, but since she didn't have the option of putting Caroline back in it until the end of Season 2--and it still sucks that we were ripped off in that regard--you can at least say she was doing right by Caroline by protecting that body and treating it well).

Way to oversimplify it, Hellmouthguy (btw, despite my earlier arguments directed your way, I do like a lot of your comments about the crappier parts of Buffy--minus the Xander complaints/brush-offs, especially in regards to having Angelus kill him in Season 2, nooo way--not nearly enough fans on this site are willing to point out the weak spots. It's not a case of, "me-TV-viewer/wannabe-critic-think-me-can-do-better", it's "You've provided me an awesome show, I expect better than the bulk of Season 7 and a horribly stereotypical portrayal of "gone evil" from you guys in regards to Dark Willow at the end of Season 6", grrrr).
Kris, your points would be valid if that was what Hellmouthyguy wrote, but if you read his post it is clear he is talking about Joel Mynor raping Echo, not Paul Ballard's actions or intentions towards her (other than to say he shared Paul's disgust at her wanting to go back to Joel).
Way to oversimplify it, Hellmouthguy (btw, despite my earlier arguments directed your way, I do like a lot of your comments about the crappier parts of Buffy--minus the Xander complaints/brush-offs, especially in regards to having Angelus kill him in Season 2, nooo way--not nearly enough fans on this site are willing to point out the weak spots. It's not a case of, "me-TV-viewer/wannabe-critic-think-me-can-do-better", it's "You've provided me an awesome show, I expect better than the bulk of Season 7 and a horribly stereotypical portrayal of "gone evil" from you guys in regards to Dark Willow at the end of Season 6", grrrr).


Yes, as Baxter just pointed out, I was referrng to Joel Mynor raping Echo, not Paul. And I would essentially agree with your take on my intentions when I critique Buffy. I've said numerous times that I loved the show; however that doesn't extend to blind adoration and I think Buffy and Angel are both tough enough to stand up to some intelligent criticism. Season 7 was a thundering failure; once the season-long arc started up they literally did nothing right for me after that (before that, though--before the potentials arrived at the house--there were some good episodes, and Conversations With Dead People remains a classic.) Season six suffered from serious mis-steps that would linger and fester in season seven: Willow's "magic addiction" (an insulting, convenient cop-out of a plot device--what she was really addicted to was power and control and that's why she wiped Tara's memories) Buffy becoming increasingly selfish and petty and hard to care about, which would just get worse and worse in season seven, to the point where I found myself gritting my teeth through her scenes (I actually wanted to smack her when she threatened to kill Robin Wood for daring to try to dust the vampire who killed his mother and took her coat as a trophy--but then Spike's hot and Buffy wants to get busy with him, right? Buffy has her priorities), Xander cementing his status as a complete tool after he had begun to make serious strides in season five, Dawn getting nothing at all to do but whine, Spike becoming the focus to the detriment of everyone else, and the capper: killing Tara and wasting a wonderfully vibrant character for a contrived, mediocre and frankly rather cheesy story. (Willow absorbing "white magic" from Giles and then relenting from destroying the world, as if the only reason she had gone dark in the first place was that she had absorbed too much dark magic? What about the fact that her girlfriend just died? Didn't that have something to do with it?)

I really do think, in retrospect, that BTVS would have been better off calling it quits at the end of season five. Season six tarnished it for me and season seven damaged its legacy profoundly. But I am thankful for season seven for one reason: I disliked it so much that it inspired me to write Buffy fanfic.
Maybe it's time to start up an "I saw Joss working at a froyo shop" rumor thread, a la Elvis. I'll start:
My girlfriend's cousin said she saw Joss regaling and scaring children with ghost stories and shadow puppets at a ski lodge in Tahoe.
Hellmouthguy, I agree with some of the stuff you said. As far as season six goes, it is one of my favorite seasons of Buffy. I really do like it. I love Willow's journey and I think Tara had to die for Willow to get to where she had to go. But I think you're right in that making Willow's addiction about magic rather than power was a huge mistake. And I completely agree with what you say about season 7. I was extremely disappointed in the show at the time. After "Conversations with Dead People", there are two consecutive episodes centered on Spike, it was really painful to wait a whole week for the show and see all the other characters neglected and Spike all over the place. And I'll never understand why Buffy would be so over-protective of him after he tried to rape her. To me Spike was done after season 6, he should've moved on to Angel at that point.

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