(Yes, I'm back again, let's all be shocked and make jokes and blah blah blah.)
The year was 2002, and Joss Whedon's latest television opus, Firefly, was not-so-shockingly given the axe after receiving dismal ratings despite favorable reviews and loyal fan support. Whedon swore he'd never work for the FOX network again, returned to work on his more successful shows and eventually rebuilt his empire around the Buffyverse, feature film Serenity and surprise online smash hit Dr. Horrible. Suddenly, last year the news came down that a new Whedon series was in the works, on FOX no less. Still, Joss fans like myself allowed themselves to get excited again, assured that there was no way FOX would risk incurring the wrath of Joss fans again by canceling another of his shows prematurely.
But here we are, and Dollhouse stands on the edge of an abyss. Poor ratings and tepid reviews are threatening to sink yet another of Whedon's young works. And why not? It's failing to make money or establish even the loyal fanbase that Firefly gained in so little time? I'll tell you why not. I'll give you five reasons...
5. Wrath of the Browncoats - History has proven that it's really a bad idea to piss off the ComicCon crowd. Cancellation of Dollhouse could mean a substantial drop in nerd support for FOX, which bodes poorly for this summer's Wolverine movie. The latest X-Men film has already suffered a major hit after it was leaked onto the internet. Can they afford to piss off Joss loyalists who can now just as easily steal the movie out of spite than pay to see it?
4. Joss is calling it quits after Dollhouse ends. That's right, Joss has announced that after (whenever) his latest show ends, he'll be devoting himself exclusively to online projects. Sure, his first web movie was wicked awesome, but there's only so much he can do with just his own money. I for one am not ready to say goodbye to Mutant Enemy on weekly television. So please, FOX, have some pity - we'd just miss him too damn much!
3. The viewership isn't really that bad. Think about it: the sixth episode of the series, "Man on the Street" (which is so far the undisputed best chapter) was up against the series finale of Battlestar Galactica, a cable series that is considered to be a huge financial success. The BSG finale was watched by 2.4 million people. "Man on the Street," which found itself in DIRECT competition with the sci-fi television event of the year (if not the decade), earned 4.1 million viewers. Honestly, I fail to see what all the fuss is about. If the suits at FOX are really unhappy with this turnout, why not try the show at a better time slot next season?
2. Honestly, you guys, what else are you gonna play? Nanny 911?
1. Storytelling Potential - Dollhouse has an extremely exciting premise that allows for every episode to be new and exciting, totally different from all the others. Joss Whedon has created a show that has an extremely broad framework - it can be whatever kind of show it wants to be from week to week. Let the cast and crew show you what this show is capable of!
Odds are Dollhouse will be cleaning out its proverbial desk by the end of April. It very well could be goodbye to the show (and to Joss) on television forever. But, as a note, if FOX doesn't pick up the series for a second season, the SciFi channel is stupid if they don't make an offer. Seriously.