Will Whedon Spoon-Feed His Audience?

by admin on July 22, 2008 · 6 comments

Joss Whedon to shoot another Dollhouse PilotBy now many of you will know that Joss Whedon will be shooting a 2nd pilot for Dollhouse. The man himself infers that he wants to ‘hit the nail on the head more succinctly’, for the lead in to the series.

Whilst I can certainly understand the need to have an explosive opening, I do worry whether in doing so he’ll end up spoon-feeding the Dollhouse audience? Listening to him speaking here, suggests that FOX want him to take a more (dare I say) ‘obvious’ approach with the show.

I think that Joss is talented enough to strike a balance between engaging the audience immediately without having to ‘dumb-down’ his original premise. However, it’s clear that a re-think has taken place on some level.

Is Joss bowing down to network pressure? Should FOX just let the man do his thing and not interfere? Will this 2nd pilot count as one of the 13 episodes that FOX have already ordered? Questions, questions.

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I suppose it’s actually a good thing that the original pilot is not getting scrapped – this way we’ll be able to compare both pilots and see just how much of a rethink Joss had.

Source: [Whedon Audio: TV Barn]

Nevermore July 22, 2008 at 10:58 pm

I see this as a bad thing. For one, it’s going to be lighter in tone, and I was actually looking forward to a darker series. Two… he wrote a pilot. You can’t just take a pilot and make it the second episode. It’s gonna be all screwy. They already did re-shoots for it, so I doubt they’ll want to do even MORE re-shoots to make it fit. And thirdly, it really does sound like he’s trying to dumb it down to bring in more casual viewers. That is not what I want from a Joss Whedon show. Keep it smart and sophisticated, and dark, too. You don’t need to hook every reality-TV-loving housewife for a show to be succesful (though you can’t deny that that helps).

Please Joss, go with your instincts, don’t try to appease the network.

Page 48 July 23, 2008 at 1:57 am

Take a listen to the noises you’re now hearing from JJ Abrams regarding his new FOX project, “Fringe”, and I think you’ll see a common theme developing.

First, he disses his ABC masterpiece, “Alias”: “I was at [Grunberg’s] house, and ‘Alias’ was on,” Abrams said at a panel discussion. “I watched a few minutes, and I was so confused,” he added to all-too-knowing laughter from critics. “Literally, [the storyline] was impenetrable. I was like, ‘I know I should understand this. I read the … who the f— is that guy?’”

Then, he offers this about “Fringe”: “I think we’re trying to do a show that doesn’t require the kind of insane, absolute dedication to a series that, if you miss an episode, you have no idea what’s going on”.

The way I read these events re: “Dollhouse” and “Fringe” is that FOX has delivered the rules of engagement to Whedon and Abrams and the ‘Coles Notes” version reads: “Dumb it down…or else”.

This, is of course, is purely my opinion, but it sounds like heavy-handed oversight by guys in suits to me.

Matthew July 23, 2008 at 5:33 am

To the comment above: Abrams’ comments seemed to indicate more to me that they’re going to use more one episode arcs and curb some of the heavy serial tendencies of his shows. I don’t really see how that equates to “dumbing down” the show, but you’re entitled to your opinion.

In general, I also don’t get how: a) this means the show will be dumbed down, or b) this is the network cracking down on Joss. To the first point, it’s impossible and a bit silly to suggest that the new tone or content of the 2nd pilot will be dumbed down or even “simpler” based solely on the comments above and without having seen either pilot. It seems just as likely that the pilot didn’t serve enough to introduce the characters and the story so much as leap directly into the plot, which is a poor way to sell a new show. To the second point, Joss said it was his decision. I don’t know how that got lost in everyone’s interpretations, but if he maintains that I have no reason to doubt it.

Look, I get the suspicion towards FOX. They’ve made a lot of dumb moves, and sucked the life out of a lot of promising series. But really, from a Whedonverse standpoint at least, the group responsible for the worst of those blunders is long gone. The team in charge made FX into the success it is, while the President of Entertainment (Kevin Reilly) put on the air quality shows like My Name is Earl, Heroes, Studio 60, Friday Night Lights, 30 Rock, The Black Donnelly’s, Andy Barker P.I., Raines, Chuck, Journeyman and Life, while supporting The Office, bringing it back from the brink of cancellation and turning it into a mega-hit. All of this in 2 and a half development cycles. The guy who, this year, added series from both JJ Abrams AND Joss Whedon to the FOX schedule. Really, if you can’t trust Kevin Reilly to support quality programming then who can you?

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