Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dollhouse Death Watch - Paleyfest '09 Edition

So yesterday there was a Dollhouse panel and you can get thorough reports of it here, here, and here. But, since you came to ol' Buffyfest, why don't I lay a little of the Bitsy charm on you and you sit a spell. Oh, and we'll talk about Dollhouse too. I mean, why not, right? Let's break this bad mamma jamma down.

It should come as no surprise that, with all the topics discussed, it's the fate of the show (both it's fabled 13th episode, "Epitaph One", and potential further seasons) that's been talked about the most. Joss's up to date report on the possibility for more was a resounding "maybe" but that he has "hope". He said they were in talks about perhaps airing the 13th episode but that the show as a whole is in uber bubble territory. Now, look, I'm a known skeptic. I had this thing out by episode seven and, frankly, I'm still not sold on the concept or the follow through on said concept but I recognize both a desire and a potential for the proverbial show to go on. You want a shot at more Dushku in slutty outfits and shirtless Tahmoh? Here's my advice: don't focus on trying to get a second season. Put your time and your effort behind getting the 13th episode aired and putting asses in seats for the episodes prior.

Here's the thing: the explanation that "Epitaph One" was always meant to be a DVD extra kind of deal will never ever ring true for me. Why would Joss have mentioned it at yon Apple Store and Felicia Day's involvement if he was not of the mind that it, at least, could air? So here's a little conspiracy theory for you to munch on and, regardless of whether I'm wrong or right, the advice I give based on this hunch of mine will still have the same potential effect. The truth is out there! And by "there" I mean, you know, right here. Continue Reading...

I think that the news that only twelve episodes would be airing was a very strategic move on the part of Fox and one one that Joss was ultimately willing to go along with. The numbers, by Joss's own admission, are dreadfully soft. The DVR and online numbers are solid though, right? That's good and all but, folks, it aint gonna be good enough. At the end of the day the network wants people watching the ads, not the show. How do you get people to watch the show on the night? Well to answer that question, you need to ask another one: who is your audience and how do you get more of them? Well the audience, by and large, are people who are fans of the man, the myth, the legend (and general snazzy dresser) Joss Whedon. They know they can use the rabid fanbase to get more people watching but they're still kind of fuzzy on the how. So here's the thing: they can't possibly promise you a second season because, right now, there's zero precedent for one. But they've still got a few episodes they promised to air and they'd really like that advertising dough so hmmm... what carrot can we possibly dangle at the end of a rope with little consequence? How about that last episode! We weren't sure if we were going to air it anyway (don't tell Joss, tee hee) but, maybe if we withhold it, make Joss got out and shill for it, the Jossoholics (Whedonphiles? Dollhousers? Bueller?) will get viral and advertise the pants off this little show and we'll improve our numbers just enough to make airing one more episode worthwhile. If not? Hey, we'll rank up our DVD sales by just keeping it as an extra.

Don't worry about season two. Worry about giving Fox incentive to air "Epitaph One". Find a way to appeal to the new lead in audience. I'm sure Prison Break has message boards and such. Bring the Dollhouse love to their turf especially since their show is about to end anyway. Maybe they want something new to watch and Dollhouse could fill that hole? You bring over that audience you got a shot at episode 13. You keep that audience and season two might just take care of itself.


Simon said...

I think that Joss was being pretty forthright in saying that the 13th episode was filmed on behest of the production company Fox Studios -- because they required it for foreign distribution deals and DVD sales, to recoup their production costs. (Which is why the network wasn't directly involved, and why they "filmed it on the cheap.") The sticky wicket is that FOX the network had effectively already fronted part of the production cost (i.e. "license fee") for 13 episodes-- since the initial pilot was scrapped -- and didn't want to invest in an additional ep they didn't order. However, perhaps with a little push from Joss and pressure from the fan community, the network might be convinced that it's worth paying a bit for a fresh episode. It really depends on how the show does next week with its new lead-in.

Bitsy said...

I don't doubt the intention of Fox the studio nor do I find Fox the network to be overwhelmingly insidious (not about Dollhouse, anyway). What I'm suggesting is that the network had not made any decisions about what to do with this 13th episode for domestic broadcast either way but that, now, they are using the possibility of it airing as an incentive to get fans to do the marketing for them. It's all about the bottom line.

Anonymous said...

And here I thought I was the one who spent too much time thinking about this kinda stuff. ;)