Fox Defends ‘Dollhouse’
There isn’t even an airdate as yet, but Fox’s Dollhouse, due in January, has stirred up some controversy. Fans are worried because Fox has a reputation for being ham-fisted with genre programming and is as likely to cancel a show as it is to support it. Creator Joss Whedon has defended the current regime at Fox and is comfortable with them although he did stop production for two weeks to retool the storylines. At present the series has a mere eight episode order, short even for a midseason replacement.
Twentieth Century Fox Television Co-Chairmen Gary Newman and Dana Walden spoke with TV Week recently and during their wide-ranging discussion, Dollhouse inevitably came up.
“Trying to tell stories that involve a genre mythology, while also telling close-ended episodic stories, while also developing characters that people are going to want to come back to week in and week out—it’s an enormous, Herculean effort. [But] there’s no one we have more faith in than Joss Whedon,” Walden explained.
“The midseason opportunity is a blessing and curse. It’s a blessing because you have more time. And it’s a curse because you have more time. There’s a greater level of scrutiny. There is a greater level of intrusion from executives. The bar just keeps being raised because there’s no urgency to put the show on the air, so at no point do you just let go of it and say, “You know what, now it’s time for this country to decide whether this is something that’s going to tap into the Zeitgeist and become culturally phenomenal or successful in general, or not.” Being stuck in that limbo with a lot of well-intentioned executives is very difficult for a creator like Joss.
“With Angel, we shut that down at the very beginning of the process. There was a creative retooling. We went back up after a little over a month and the show just found the place where the stories were the most interesting and the characters just popped. And that’s where we’ve come to with “Dollhouse.” There’s a very complicated mythology that Joss is trying to crack in a way that’s satisfying to a broad audience but will also satisfy his core fan base who will watch anything that Joss does. This is a big task.
“The first two episodes … are quite good. The third episode is as compelling a script as I’ve ever read. You just fly through it. It’s engaging, it’s exciting. It was the script where everyone said, ‘You know what, Joss is on to something. We need to give him some breathing room. Let’s take a couple weeks down so the scripts can catch up to this direction’.”
Fox’s other troubled series, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles received a vote of confidence as new scripts were ordered by the network. Additionally, DVR ratings show a stronger audience than first believed. Regardless, Summer Glau, who plays Cameron the Terminator protecting John Connor, is already looking at another project.
She would reunite with Whedon who wants her to star in a short film called The Serving Girl. According to MTV, Whedon has composed the music to the film that would allow Glau’s ballet training to shine. The pair has previously worked together on Angel and Firefly. Glau and Whedon worked out the choreography together.
“She’s even busier than I am. She’s busy terminating everybody,” Whedon told the channel. “We’ve both very dedicated to the concept, and it is the next kind of dream for something to do, but it’s like working with any other artist. If they’re good, they’re very often busy, and you gotta wait.”
“We’ve been waiting to do this for years,” Glau said. “But when you’re on a series, you live there, and that’s all we do. So we’re going to have to wait until the next hiatus, but that’s not even that far away, so keep your fingers crossed.”
Whenever this is completed, it will likely be made available across media platforms similar to Whedon’s hilarious Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long.