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Series: Dollhouse Doesn’t Need Saving

Normally I try not to fly off the handle too often here on EOL, but there’s something going on at the moment that’s frustrating the hell out of me. Sadly, the source of that frustration is something that should have been nothing but awesome news: The new Eliza Dushku / Joss Whedon series, Dollhouse.

I’m the first guy to sling a joke at the expense of the FOX network and their habitual mistreatment and cancellation of excellent television shows based on little (or no) real time or effort to allow them to find a fan base. Hell, I’m even guilty of making the odd crack about Dollhouse’s demise… but the fact that a ‘save dollhouse’ campaign has been sweeping the net, before the show even starts to air, is doing NOTHING to benefit the series and EVERYTHING to sabotage it.

Like every other card-carrying member of the ‘Joss Whedon is my master now’ club (and every hetro male with a set of functional eyes in his head), I’m ecstatic about the fact that Whedon and Dushku are working together on this series and fully expect that we’re going to be treated to some superior television when it begins airing in January of 2009. Should the show live up to the promise of its breeding, then it deserves to be a huge success… but that brings us to the question of defining success.

In terms of quality, shows like Firefly, Wonderfalls and The Inside, were a vast success. But only if you choose to measure success in terms of quality! Now because ‘quality’ relies on personal taste and opinion it’s virtually impossible to use it as a quantifiable unit of measure. No, the unfortunate reality is that the only device that matters when it comes to measuring the success of a television show is simple math: How many people are watching this?

Regardless of how much we bitch and moan, the fact is that if people aren’t watching a show, for whatever reason, then the network airing it can’t sell commercial time. If they can’t make money from airing the show, the only solution is to stop airing it. Hate the commercial nature of it all as much as you like, but the fact remains that without that element then there’d be no networks and therefore no place or reason for our favourite shows to exist (think about that next time you’re installing an adblocker and then expecting to see fresh content on your favourite website).

So, why is it that I’m so against the Save Dollhouse movement? Well, to a degree, it’s a ‘guilt by association’ kind of thing. There have been many ‘save-the-latest-cool-show-that-no-one-was-watching-so-it-got-axed’ campaigns in the past, more so recently and, lets be completely honest here, they’ve all failed. Even the most successful of them, the Save Jericho campaign, did manage to get some extra episodes of the series made, but didn’t manage to generate enough interest in the show for it to actually pick up much-needed viewers. Ultimately, while fans got to see a better resolution to the show than they may have originally been left with, the network must have been left with a bad taste in its mouth after taking a risk based on a fan campaign.

Dollhouse hasn’t even begun airing and, despite the fact that FOX have made a thirteen episode commitment to the series, just about every bit of press relating to the show is talking about the fact that fans (of a show that hasn’t aired yet?) are campaigning to save it. I fail to see — which probably makes this all my own fault — how Dollhouse will manage to reach a larger audience when all the noise being made about it revolves around its imminent demise.

Am I saying that people with faith (sorry) in this series shouldn’t get behind it? Hell no! But I do believe that there’s a real danger that this sort of campaign could become the harbinger of doom, a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. The people behind these Save Dollhouse campaigns need to tread very carefully and choose their battles (and wording) with caution. Don’t think for a minute that I don’t admire their passion either! I’m just concerned that they may be doing more harm than good. [source]

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7 Comments

    So which are you, elroy, a “card carrying member of the ‘Joss Whedon is my master now’ club” or a “hetro male with a set of functional eyes in his head”?

    I didn’t realise that Fox had agreed to a full 13 episodes – I thought there was just a seven episode agreement in place.

    Still, if it does get axed, 13 is at least a respectable DVD release, like, a whole 4 discs!

    Trouble is, with ‘imminent doom’ hanging over the writer’s heads, are they going to rush the story like Firefly, or build it slower like in Buffy and Angel? It’s a hard one to pick as if it does get cancelled, I’d like to see the ‘best’ of what they could write, but if it goes on, im more a fan of the slower-paced storytelling and slower build of mythology that comes with a show of this nature.

  • All the more reason for the *fans* of this show to back the hell off and let things play out as they may.

    As it stands if FOX does end up cancelling Dollhouse we’re never going to be able to point a clean finger at them (like you can with Firefly). There’s always going to be the ability for someone to claim that the fans themselves played a part in its demise.

    The other thing that people have to realise is that the boobs who cancelled Firefly (and the many other axed-before-their-time shows) have moved on – many of them no longer even work a FOX… so it’s probably in everyone’s best interest to let these new people show us what they’re worth.

    Oh, and yes Furious, I am a member of the ‘Joss Whedon is my master now’ club… but just because the ‘functionality’ of my eyes is questionable, doesn’t mean anything else is.

  • I couldn’t agree more. The angry nerd mobs need to realize that sometimes emails and websites can have an adverse effect… And they need baths.

  • Excuse me whilst I applaud and scream and whistle in wild agreement.

    Nothing says “The Earth is definitely doomed.” then prematurely irritated, torch-wielding fans, begging and pleading with T.V execs to save a show that isn’t around to be saved.

    All that hot air could be put to much better use organizing MORE people to watch it when it finally airs in ’09.

    Myself? I’m already organizing a Dollhouse night for whenever it premiers on the telly.

    And yes, I’ve been a “Joss Whedon Is My Master” card carrier since 1996, and damn bloody proud of it.

    Way to go Elroy!

  • I have to agree that this campaigning is probably not a good thing. The Whedon fanbase in general have a tendency to be looked down upon as blind and annoying (I myself am an extremely loyal member of said fanbase, it’s just the annoyingly vocal minority giving us all a bad name).

    To be honest, I haven’t seen a single shred of evidence to support the theory that FOX aren’t 409% behind Dollhouse. I’ve seen nothing but support coming from them at this point.

    By the way, Furious, I’m curious as to where you got the idea that Firefly’s story was rushed. To me, it was clearly slowly building to something bigger (in a similar way to Buffy) until it’s cancellation. In fact, the mythology of the series seemed to be building even slower than that of Buffy or Angel. If you mean Serenity, though, I completely understand your point, as I seem to remember hearing that Serenity was essentially a compressed, reworked version of the second season Joss was planning for the show.

  • Save Dollhouse…

    (Direktlink)

    Dabei ist wichtig, das der Kontext folgender ist:

    Dollhouse hasn’t even begun airing and, despite the fact that FOX have made a thirteen episode commitment to the series, just about every bit of press relating to the show is talkin…

  • Agreed. Joss Whedon, I’ve found, has fairly good judgement on things… I think he is the one that got screwed over the most by FOX, not the fans.

    So if he has decided to go with them on this there is surely a pretty good reasoning behind it. Lord knows I’d be pretty damned jaded in his position – and I certainly couldn’t believe what I heard at first… lets hope things are positive in Dollhouse-land.

    The little I saw of Dark Angel and Alias were pretty tripe-tastic but somehow popular with folks… I can see Dollhouse working wonders with that sort of crowd. Plus the Battlestar Galactica dude is in it, hells yeah! Anyway, I have faith (yes, I know).