What’s Really Going On With Dollhouse?

by admin on September 12, 2008 · 5 comments

Dollhouse on 2 week hiatusI thought I’d elevate this TV Week article from the comments to give it more exposure. Apparently there’s more to the 2 week Dollhouse hiatus than meets the eye:

Officially, 20th executives said the shutdown is designed to give Mr. Whedon time to focus on getting the show’s scripts in better shape. According to Zap2It.com, which first reported the shutdown, Mr. Whedon’s decision to direct two of the first three episodes of the series distracted him from focusing on the scripts.

A 20th spokesman indicated that Mr. Whedon simply wanted to make the show better, and that because production on the series is ahead of schedule, there would be no problem with the show premiering as planned in January.

“We have tremendous confidence in Joss and his team, and we wholeheartedly supported his desire to take some time to focus on upcoming scripts before resuming filming,” the 20th spokesman said. “It’s not often in television production that you have the luxury of extra time, but in this instance we did. And this is a show we all believe in and we want to give it every opportunity to succeed.”

However, some executives at the Fox network are worried that Mr. Whedon may not have his “Dollhouse” in order.

A person familiar with the thinking of some Fox executives told TelevisionWeek that there have been concerns raised inside the network about the fundamental underpinnings of the show.

Specifically, because the heroine of the show, played by Eliza Dushku, has no free will or ability to do much beyond what she’s told to do, viewers might find it hard to root for her. In addition, some executives have expressed concerns that early episodes of the series have been confusing and hard to follow.

Mr. Whedon himself confessed to such worries over “clarity” in July, when he announced he was shooting a new pilot for the series and wouldn’t be screening the original pilot at Comic-Con.

But executives who’ve read future scripts said some of those issues remain.

A Fox network spokesman dismissed as “untrue” the notion that Fox Entertainment chiefs Peter Liguori and Kevin Reilly are concerned over the future of the show.

“We believe in Joss, and we support the show,” he said. “It will be on the air midseason.”

Whilst I can understand the concerns about the show being confusing (because the transition from script to film is quite a large one), I don’t really understand why these Fox execs have only now decided that the ‘premise’ could be flawed (in their opinion). We all know that Echo has no freewill, but surely that’s the point – is it not Echo’s gradual ‘awakening’ and struggle to obtain her freewill the thing which underpins the show? As long as the series has an over-arching storyline (which I believe it will) and a engages the audience, then surely the premise can work? Already I am rooting for Echo, but much more than that I am interested in the motivations of the Dollhouse management (they really need a proper name don’t they). Perhaps they are not as unethical as they seem, perhaps science is the answer to saving all human souls, perhaps it’s this kind of back and forth, both sides of the coin, story-telling that Dollhouse should be about.

I get the fact that the premise would be boring and mundane if each week Echo does what she’s told and then crawls back into her sleeping chamber before being ‘activated’ for more groundhog day – but this is not the impression I had of the shows premise. I have always believed that the show would have a continuity in the story-line, one which allowed us to see, episode to episode, Echo’s struggle for her own independence (or whatever), one in which science wasn’t simply the ‘big bad guy’, but gradually became more ambigious as the story unfolded. To me, this is far from mundane, and I’m sure there are others out there who would not find a mind-wiping premise of this nature ‘boring’. It’s simply a matter of execution and whether or not Whedon has to skill to do it. Personally I think he must, since the show is his baby (OK, and Eliza’s).

The only thing I would say after seeing (and loving) the exciting Fringe pilot, is that I hope DH isn’t too ‘sleepy’. DH seems to take place in a sur-real world, but looking back at the trailers, it does seem a bit, what’s the word..slow? Perhaps this is what Fox are worried about? Obviously they’ve seen more DH production than I have and they know a thing or two about a thing or two (but they’re also prone to misjudgment as they are human beings).

Now I’m not particularly ranting at anyone in particular here – I want the FOX to have some creative control because my faith in them has grown, and I also want Whedon’s flair to shine, so I’m only going from the TV Week article and what was inferred from that. I’m still not worried about Dollhouse, and hey, if the show is axed I can always start blogging about dolls houses…right?

Ah, you have to have a bit of fun in such a serious world.

*Thanks to Wiesengrund for the heads-up on the TV Week article.

Nevermore September 12, 2008 at 10:40 pm

Please for the love of god Joss, don’t let the executives make you dumb down the show because they think we’re all retards. I mean, has anyone ever actually stopped watching a show because they thought it was too confusing? I know I haven’t. There’s plenty of reasons to stop watching, but “too confusing” has never and will never be one. Also, I can’t understand how anybody at FOX would give a crap about a show with no over-arching storyline; they’ve got plenty of them. I doubt that’s how this show is going to work anyways. None of this supposed insider information makes much sense.

Roco September 13, 2008 at 12:58 am

Yeah, whilst I am comfortable with Fox having an influence on the show, I don’t want them to dumb it down either. We have enough dumb stuff on TV as it is. I want to be intellectually stimulated, I want there to be subtle humour, little nuances and a story that I won’t fully grasp the beauty of from a wikipedia article alone. I guess it’s difficult to know exactly what the “insiders” mean by “confusing”. If by confusing they do mean that we have to engage our brains whilst watching, then seriously, I’m all for “confusing”!

I’m hoping though, that they’ve identified genuine problems (which will hopefully be ironed out), rather than diluting a show of the brain element.

wiesengrund September 13, 2008 at 9:20 am

after some close reading i got to the conclusion, that the article is a big ball of smoke. basically, there is no new information, only old information blown out of proportion. look at the source they have: a person familiar with the thinking of some Fox execs?! come on.

so basically i think this is panic-inducing, sensationalistic journalism looking to get some hits on their page for having this “bad news”. bad news they can’t prove in any way.

Roco September 13, 2008 at 5:18 pm

You could be right – there’s not any proof that this insider even exists. If we’re wrong TV Week, please let us know!

Grailwolf September 17, 2008 at 9:37 pm

Totally agreed. That phrase jumped out at me the first time I read this. A “person familiar with the thinking of some Fox executives” could be almost anyone on the planet. It could be someone who acted in a series that was canceled by Fox three years ago, someone who dated someone in the Fox steno pool, or someone who is still bitter about the cancellation of the OC.

I see no reason to take this seriously until Joss posts about it on Whedonesque.

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