Whedon Needs to Look Outside of His Fanbase

by admin on January 12, 2009 · 6 comments

Peter Liguori, chairman of entertainment at Fox, has been speaking to Broadcasting Cable about the current state of broadcast TV. Here’s what he had to say about “Dollhouse” when asked if it was as bad as it has been speculated:

Joss Whedon has an unbelievably loyal fan base, and he really knows how to write to that fan base. I expect that they’re going to be there. They’re going to enjoy his show. One of the things about airing on Friday night, a show is not expected to have those boffo ratings.

Talk about dodging the question! I hate sounding so negative (it feels like every post I write these days is slightly negative, after what was once such a positive blog), but shouldn’t we be hoping for more than Whedon’s “fanbase” to tune in? Also, I don’t want Whedon to write for his fanbase, that’s the problem, his fanbase are only so large and will (by and large) love everything he does regardless. He should write from his heart, and if his fanbase happens to dig it then that’s a bonus, not the other way around.

I’m not speaking as a Whedon fan here, I’m speaking of a fan of great ideas and concepts that move me. “Dollhouse” (the premise) moved me to create this blog, and I do hope that Whedon doesn’t get too bogged down in trying to please his fans, if you know what I mean? I think you can get into a rut that way and you can end up alienating those who might not have loved Firefly or Serenity or Buffy, and believe me, there are plenty of people like that, it’s called the ‘majority’. Leave the door ajar for the rest of the world, if you please. That said, that was Liguori speaking and not Whedon.

I suppose I don’t blame Liguori for dodging the question about Dollhouse, and he does reiterate a good point about the show being under less pressure to perform than it might otherwise have been if it aired on the Monday, as originally planned.  I guess, in general, ‘the powers that be’ are trying to lower expectations, it seems like the name of the game. I just hope that standards and high-concept ideas aren’t being lowered. Time will tell.

Kit January 12, 2009 at 8:02 pm

The thing that concerns me about Fox is that if they are only expecting Whedon’s fans to show up – what will their marketing be like? As you’ve noted, the promo photos have focused mostly on Dushku, which, although I love her, isn’t necessarily going to draw in the biggest fan-base.

I’m concerned that the advertising for this show will be as unsuccessful as firefly’s was (which I think was unsuccessful due to the fact that I’m a huge Whedon fan and didn’t find out about Firefly until after it was canceled – despite watching Buffy religiously that season… Poor ad placement on Fox’s part).

Kit January 12, 2009 at 9:12 pm

Also, I wanted to say, but forgot, that I don’t think it’s Whedon who doesn’t want to look outside his fanbase – I think it’s the fox execs who’ve decided to rely on them to support his show (rather than actually market it well).

wiesengrund January 12, 2009 at 10:02 pm

That’s what bugs me the most, too. Fox has to target people outisde Whedon’s fanbase. There just aren’t enough Whedon-fans out there to keep a show alive.

It is basically the same mistake Universal did with Serenity.

Roco January 13, 2009 at 12:21 am

the promo photos have focused mostly on Dushku, which, although I love her, isn’t necessarily going to draw in the biggest fan-base

I couldn’t agree more, Kit. I think they should think outside of the box a little bit. It’s almost a defeatest attitude that they’ve adopted (the promotional dept., that is).

@wiesengrund: Very true. And what’s the point of the limited advertisements experiment, if they’re only going to get Whedon fans onboard?

Again, perhaps it goes back to lowering expectations? But in doing that they should be careful not to market DH as an insular show.

Kit January 13, 2009 at 12:27 am

Roco – exactly what you said. They’ve decided (before even attempting) that it’s only going to be popular with Whedon’s fanbase, so they’re not even trying.

It’s one thing to lower the expectations of what the outcome for the show will be – it’s another to lower the expectations of the marketing department… which is what I feel like happened. In other words, when they decided it wasn’t going to bring it many fans outside the fanbase that Whedon already has, they decided marketing wasn’t needed… Which is dumb. Set the standard high, but the expectations low, people.

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