FOX – ‘Dollhouse Limbo to Be Expected’

by admin on October 13, 2008 · 3 comments


TV Week have an interview with Fox Co-Chairmen Gary Newman and Dana Walden, in which they discuss Joss Whedon and Dollhouse:

TVWeek:The buzz surrounding Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse” has been sketchy. The show shut down production for a couple weeks. What’s going on?

Ms. Walden:Trying to tell stories that involve a genre mythology, while also telling close-ended episodic stories, while also developing characters that people are going to want to come back to week in and week out—it’s an enormous, Herculean effort. [But] there’s no one we have more faith in than Joss Whedon.

The midseason opportunity is a blessing and curse. It’s a blessing because you have more time. And it’s a curse because you have more time. There’s a greater level of scrutiny. There is a greater level of intrusion from executives. The bar just keeps being raised because there’s no urgency to put the show on the air, so at no point do you just let go of it and say, “You know what, now it’s time for this country to decide whether this is something that’s going to tap into the Zeitgeist and become culturally phenomenal or successful in general, or not.” Being stuck in that limbo with a lot of well-intentioned executives is very difficult for a creator like Joss.

With [Mr. Whedon’s WB series] “Angel,” we shut that down at the very beginning of the process. There was a creative retooling. We went back up after a little over a month and the show just found the place where the stories were the most interesting and the characters just popped. And that’s where we’ve come to with “Dollhouse.” There’s a very complicated mythology that Joss is trying to crack in a way that’s satisfying to a broad audience but will also satisfy his core fan base who will watch anything that Joss does. This is a big task.

TVWeek: Is the retooling going well?

Ms. Walden:Absolutely. The first two episodes … are quite good. The third episode is as compelling a script as I’ve ever read. You just fly through it. It’s engaging, it’s exciting. It was the script where everyone said, “You know what, Jossis on to something. We need to give him some breathing room. Let’s take a couple weeks down so the scripts can catch up to this direction.”

I don’t know about anyone else but that all seems above-board to me, no conspiracy theories, no hints that Dollhouse will be axed any time soon, just the plain simple fact that the mid-season start-date is both a gift and a curse for Whedon, Fox and the show itself. There’s bound to be some disagreement and infighting as a result, but the fans shouldn’t panic. I speculated a few months ago that the January start date was both a good and a bad thing, and that seems to be the case. On the one hand they have more time to perfect and tweak things, however this ‘extra’ time means more time to think and in some cases, to ‘over-think’. I don’t know whether that’s the case with what’s happening behind the scenes, but the above interview gives that impression and it doesn’t take a genius to work out that projects often work better when there’s that time pressure. Sometimes the best thing is to get something out there and find your feet whilst receiving feedback from the audience – just look at Fringe.

It’s a shame that Dollhouse wont have this same ‘live environment’ to feed from when the show does air. It must be a bit like making a movie, with the final product (season) not being seen by audiences until it’s completed (unless it gets a full season pick-up). Still, there’s more than one way to  produce a quality TV show, and as long as there’s that mutual objective from both the creators and the network, then Dollhouse could be worth the wait. If not, there’s always LOST and Fringe. Yeah!

wiesengrund October 15, 2008 at 4:50 pm

just to prevent some confusion: Walden is Co-Chairman of Twentieth Century Fox. The studio, not the network. 🙂

i guess that makes even more sense, since the studio was always satisfied with Joss’ work. some networks happened to disagree back then, but as far as i know the studio was always behind him.

Roco October 16, 2008 at 10:09 pm

Hey, thanks for the clarification there.

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