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Dollhouse: Joss Whedon Writing Last Episode, Planning for Cancellation

Dollhouse TV showAs fans of Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse are painfully aware, the series has failed to attract a significant number of viewers each week.

Though the show has a devoted following and a solid cast (including Eliza Dushku, Harry Lennix, Fran Kranz, and Tahmoh Penikett), Dollhouse is consistently one of Friday night’s worst performing shows. Even when you factor in the DVR numbers, viewership is still quite low.

The season two premiere tallied just 3.42 million viewers and a 1.5 rating in the 18-49 demo. The later episodes have done even worse and help keep the network in fourth place for the night.

Despite the poor numbers, FOX scheduling chief Preston Beckman tells THR that the network is committed to running all 13 episodes. Optimistically he added, “We’re not saying we’re happy with those numbers, or accept them, but we don’t have to overreact.”

Should Dollhouse be cancelled?

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That doesn’t mean however that the show won’t be put on hiatus, particularly during the sweeps period. Beckman noted, “During [November] sweeps we might have to jack up the numbers a little [with other programming], but we plan on completing the order for this show.”

Officially, the network won’t decide about ordering the “back nine” or season three until the current installments have finished airing. That’s not a good sign for a couple reasons. Production will have already shut down by then and, once a show is off the air, most viewers and networks tend to forget about it pretty quickly.

Considering the current numbers, any kind of Dollhouse renewal looks highly unlikely anyway. Last season, the show averaged just 4.63 million and a 1.6 rating and was barely renewed. This season of Dollhouse is doing worse.

Whedon has seen the writing on the wall and is writing the last episode of this season as a series ending. He says, “We’ll definitely have closure, but will leave some doors open.”

He’s thankful for the chance to finish the season and acknowledged the poor ratings. Whedon added, “When we got our first numbers, which were bad, the first thing [FOX president of entertainment] Kevin Reilly said was, ‘You’ll have all 13,’ which was great. They’re not going to pull the rug out from under us.”

What do you think? Are you glad Whedon will be able to write an ending or upset with FOX’s treatment of the show? Would you like to see it continue somehow?

 

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Angelioss November 24, 2009 at 7:58 pm

Its really sad they ended the doll house , to me being given a firday timeslot would have been a no brainer to go to another network … this show is phenominal and fox only wants to play waht they think will succeed … reality crap …

Okay so Back to turning off the tv , because I hate CSI and reality tv , waiting for the blu rays and downloading from Itunes … Who needs tv , they clearly dont want us to watch it …

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katisluiz November 5, 2009 at 3:50 pm

As for friday being a kiss of death, does anyone remember a little show on fox called the x-files which debuted and flourished on fox friday night lineup? they deffinately could of put dollhouse on with better shows and they should of. Wheadon is a god.

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Rob October 30, 2009 at 8:16 am

The blame for Dollhouse’s poor numbers lies with both the show and FOX, but rather more with FOX, IMHO. On the Dollhouse side, the central concept behind the show is a difficult one to convey,and the writers took a bit too long in coming to terms with where they wanted to go with the story. Perhaps a bit more pre-first episode story planning in the writer’s room would have helped? They needed to start the big central story arc sooner to hook in the audience. The bulk of the blame though has to lay at FOX’s feet. They placed the show on the worst night of the week, Friday, especially for a science fiction show designed to attract a younger audience. They interfered with the first five episodes, losing Dollhouse’s audience except for the hard core Whedon fans and the few others willing to stick with the show. First impressions are important and FOX sabotaged Dollhouse’s first five impressions. Kudos for FOX renewing Dollhouse for a second season, but they also left the show on Friday nights, gave it two incredibly lame and thematically totally unrelated sit-coms as lead-in shows, and have given it virtually no promotional support at all. Overall, I have to mostly blame FOX for once again pulling a “Firefly” and killing another intelligent and entertaining show from Joss Whedon. At least , as consolation, we will have a full 13 episode second season to fill a dvd set. I will certainly be buying it.

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Kat829 October 26, 2009 at 11:17 pm

I am 41, my daughter is 20 and we absolutely LOVE Dollhouse! Yes, we have to DVR the episodes because she’s usually working and we always watch it together, but nonetheless we haven’t missed one yet. We even bought the season one DVD the day it came out. To hear the show will probably be cancelled is truly a great loss once again for ‘good’ tv. We agree with everyone here who has said change the night & give it a chance!!

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Andrew October 26, 2009 at 7:26 pm

Fox gets both ticks and crosses for its treatment of Dollhouse. It gets major props for renewing what was a dying show due simply to Whedon’s attachment, and also for committing to airing the entire thirteen episodes of Season 2. However, its treatment with regards to promotion of the show is bordering on sabotage. It shouldn’t be allowed to just renew a show and then just assume the ratings will be better this time around, with no promo money spent.

Ellen Degeneres needs to put one of the cast members on her show – that’s the most watched talk show around, and Dollhouse needs some serious plugging. Alyson Hannigan could have been nice and plugged it when Ellen brought up her husband (who is currently in the show) on Friday, but she failed to do so.

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bec1973 October 26, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Everyone knows that Friday night is the kiss of death for any tv series. If FOX had wanted a decent audience they needed to pick a better night that Friday for a new show. webdiva is right, Fox’s lineup on Thursday with Bones and Fringe was awful, forgive me, but why compete with CSI and Grey’s. You’re just asking for your shows to be DVR’d, if they had put Fringe and Dollhouse on the same night, say, Tuesday, and Bones back on Wednesday, Fox might’ve had a shot at more viewers. Bones and Fringe don’t have the same audience and Fringe has a enough of a viewship not to need the Bones lead-in right now. The other problem I have with Fox is that they keep moving their series around to different nights, different time slots. I’ve found that it’s best to DVR the FOX programs, just in case they move them around. I think it’s pretty clear that they prefer their sports veiwers to week night viewers anyway. I would never have realized that Fringe was back on last season if my DVR hadn’t been set to record the new episodes. Too bad Fox! Sorry I got off topic ; I love Dollhouse and will be sad to see it go!

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webdiva October 25, 2009 at 10:39 pm

Friday night is a hard night for Dollhouse: it’s up against Stargate: Universe, competing for that same audience, and the various Stargate shows are among the most successful series that SciFi (whoops! hate that stupid new spelling …) Channel has ever had. Plus, that same sudience most likely watches Smallville on the WB before Stargate: Universe comes on. How, exactly, did Fox ever hope to compete with *that* combo??? Better not to — which means Fox really needed to find another week night to run Dollhouse and let it find its audience. Dollhouse could have easily been scheduled, for example, either before or after Fringe, which would be a complementary viewership. But no, apparently Fox isn’t that smart.

And speaking of Fringe: being pre-empted for several weeks in a row by the baseball playoffs and the World Series may well cost Fringe a good chunk of its viewership. People had just gotten used to watching the show again when the baseball-cause hiatus checked in, derailing the Fringe viewers, among others. And I’m guessing that the folks who watch baseball aren’t the same ones who watch Fringe, which means Fox gets to piss off its regular weeknight viewers while pleasing its sports fans. Here’s a thought: couldn’t the baseball playoffs have been moved to Fox Sports Channel?? And if not that, perhaps Fox should have waited until after the World Series (which, let’s face it, should have occurred the **first** week of October, NOT the last!) to begin airing the news season of Fringe? Fox has a hot series in Fringe, but the network could still sabotage that success — this hiatus so early in the season could permanently damage the show’s ratings. Out of sight, out of mind. How many Fringe fans who aren’t baseball viewers will know offhand when the World Series is finally over so that they can watch Fringe again? I’m guessing they’ll have found other things to do by then. And the Fox schedulers are stupid enough not to have considered that and planned accordingly. Hmmmmm, more like shooting themsevles in the balls instead of the foot … ouch.

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