As promised, here is my follow-up article to my previous Four Reasons why Dollhouse might be Renewed. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that Whedon’s Dollhouse is going to be gone soon, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
Okay, that may not exactly be what is going to happen, but if we’re facing the harsh and bitter reality, FOX, the “notoriously-fickle” network, is often going one-way with shows that are not instant hits.
It’s hard, but here are four reasons why I believe Dollhouse will get cancelled.
Reason 1 : Ratings The most obvious reason on this list: ratings are bad, real bad. Only 3.6 million viewers tuned in last Friday, the same numbers as for The Sarah Connor Chronicles season (series?) finale. The rest is pretty much straightforward: in the conventional TV world, bad ratings mean no renewal. And if you’re thinking of a pity renewal just there, Dollhouse as of yet still does not have as strong a following as Firefly has, so a pity renewal has yet to be seen regarding fanbase. Though the numbers have been steady, they are, at the end of the day, very weak, and weak is not good.
Reason 2 : Death Slot This reason is quite self-explanatory. It’s no secret that Friday is also known as the death slot. Movies open on Fridays, people like to go out on Friday nights, almost no one is left to watch some TV. And when you combine Friday night with FOX, you get cancellation. Take a look at the 20 shows that were in this same death slot and were subsequently cancelled in the last 10 years, or just ask Firefly and Wonderfalls. Friday nights on FOX have always been the place where shows go to die in pain. Also, Tim Minear is producing the show, and we all know that Fox and Minear do not compute.
Reason 3 : Slow on the Uptale Last time we were here discussing in length the Dollhouse, I was talking about something I called the “Fourth Media Dilemma”. Picking up for a second season Dollhouse, despite its atrocious ratings and FOX’s precedents regarding the death slot, would mean in some way recognizing the (good) iTunes and Hulu numbers of the show, and therefore officially giving some power to the Internet, or at least acknowledging it. I doubt FOX execs have the balls to give some credit to the Internet just yet and basically vet the Fourth Media in relation to a TV show’s fate. TV execs are known to be “slow on the uptake”, or at the very least having a hard time acknowledging new technologies and new forms of content. This is basically no different, if not greater than that. A renewal would mean showing faith in iTunes sales, and this is a one-way leap of faith. Is FOX really ready to take that step?
Reason 4 : Direct-to-DVD Last Thursday was announced that the “real” first (and only?) season finale of Dollhouse would only be available on DVD and not be shown on FOX, à la Middleman (although there the finale wasn’t actually produced, albeit available only in comic-book format). The official reason behind such a move is because FOX has already fulfilled its 13-episode order via the pilot’s reshooting. Tim Minear explained this better:
Because we scrapped the original pilot — and in fact cannibalized some of its parts for other eps — we really ended up with 12 episodes. But the studio makes DVD and other deals based on the original 13 number. So we created a standalone kind of coda episode. Which is the mythical new episode 13. The network had already paid for 13 episodes, and this included the one they agreed to let us scrap for parts. It does not include the one we made to bring the number back up to 13 for the studio side and its obligations.
If you believe in the show getting renewed, you’re going to show what looks like the best episode of the series and show it to the world as soon as you can.
If you don’t, on the other hand, no point in wasting your precious broadcast time for a dead show walking.
You’ve gotta admit though that FOX not even bothering to broadcast the final episode shows a certain lack of trust in Dollhouse‘s future to say the least.
Ultimately, my previous “renewal” reasons are still valid, and, depending on your dubiousness, you can side either way on Dollhouse‘s fate.
Hope is still not lost, and FOX might still have the balls to renew Dollhouse (and The Sarah Connor Chronicles for that matter).
Like always: Watch, Wait, and See.