Friday, May 15, 2009

Dollhouse Renewed. No, Seriously.

The official word won't come from Fox Broadcasting Company until its upfronts on Monday, but the company has ordered a second season of Joss Whedon's critically acclaimed but ratings-challenged human-bodies-as-hardware drama, Dollhouse.  I must say that I am stunned, but in a happy way.

It appears that the order is for 13 episodes, with an option for 9 more, presumably based on ratings or the need to replace a cancelled show.  The  renewal comes with some strings, I'm afraid.  The first condition is reduced costs.  That's not surprising, given that Dollhouse's first season was fairly expensive.  I'm guessing that the main set was quite costly to build, so simply not having to build it for S2 will cut costs not insignificantly.  Whedon has shown that he can produce high-quality entertainment on a lean budget, * so I'm not concerned about this requirement.  The second condition has been described as "a shift in creative direction."  That phase has me a little concerned, since it was Fox's creative input that lead to the meh episodes 1 through 5.  Still, I choose to be happy and optimistic at this time;  I'll worry later.

*  For example, consider Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog, recorded during the writer's strike, as well as "Epitaph One," the final, so-far-unaired episode of Dollhouse S1, which was shot for half the cost of the other eps.


  1. Huzzah! My decision to watch is affirmed!

    I still haven't seen the last three eps of S1 (I'll pick up at least one on Wednesday), but if they pan out the way I think they will, the DVDs will be preordered shortly.

    I certainly hope that Fox's "creative" "assistance" doesn't scuttle everything good about the series.

  2. Ep 10, Haunted, is essentially stand-alone, but it explores one ramification of imprinting technology: life after death. It's much better than the other self-contained eps from earlier in the season, in my opinion.

    Ep 11, Briar Rose, is freakin' awesome, I'd say.

    Ep 12, Omega, is the season finale. It was a bit of a disappointment---not as riveting or surprising as as Ep 11, but still better than most shows on TV. It explores more ramifications of Dollhouse tech. There's a very interesting conversation between Echo and...some other people...that makes the episode.

    Surely Fox must have noticed that every single critical article about Dollhouse said that the quality of the show dramatically improved after the Fox-mandated stand-alone episodes. I'm hoping that the creative change will be to let Joss be Joss. Plus, more Tim Minear would be nice.

    In other Dollhouse news, Fox has said they WILL show Ep 13, Epitaph One, though it's not clear when it will air. Ep 13 is essentially self-contained, as far as I know, so it doesn't compromise the finale-ish nature of Ep 12. Joss shot this ep at the request of Fox (the studio) so they'd have another ep for the DVD and for international release. Epitaph One cost half as much as the other eps; I'm guessing, but don't actually know, that it takes place entirely in the Dollhouse set and doesn't feature much fight choreography or FX. I've tried to avoid spoilers for this episode, and I wouldn't post them here if I knew any, but I will say that Felicia Day* guest-stars. Neat!

    * Vi in S7 of Buffy, Penny in Dr Horrible, and the creator of The Guild, in which she plays Codex.

  3. Here's a bit more on Ep 13. No spoilers at this link now, but that may change:

  4. Yeah, I'd heard about the Ep 13 issues from Felicia Day's Twitter feed; she was seriously bummed that the ep might not air in the US.

    I hope you're right about them letting Joss be Joss and Minear be Minear. If only Ben Edlund wasn't tied up with that silly "Supernatural" show...