I am the world’s laziest workaholic.
MR: When it comes to “Dollhouse,” do you have time to build that audience? We all love Joss but sometimes the faithful can be louder than the numbers.
PL: It’s the age-old question. Every show is different. You can launch a show and it’s a 4-share show. It’s not going to become a 24-share show. The thing with Joss, you launch his show and instantly it becomes somebody’s favorite show. To me, in this current television environment, if you can be somebody’s favorite show, you’d better be patient with that show.
[It used to be] and 18-share show, that was the bar you had to jump over. If you’re looking at a 7-share show in an 18-share-hit environment, wrap it up, move on. Done. Today, I sit there and say, you know, I sat there from a distance and saw “House” premiere at a 7-share. I know I have certain tools at my disposal for promotional platforms. And you know what, I’d rather know I have a very strong, loyal core that I can build on. That being said, getting out of the gate is important in this environment.
Joss skrev:Welcome (back) to the Dollhouse.
A New Pilot? A New Hope? A Prequel? A Nyquil? What's the skinny on DOLLHOUSE and why doesn't this link to anything?
Hi guys. Well, it’s been an eventful week. While all of you have been enjoying (and in some cases, suddenly NOT enjoying) our adorable little musical romp “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” (exclusively available on iTunes!) (And I lied about some people not enjoying it!) I’ve been busying myself with a little something I like to call DOLLHOUSE. Finishing a new episode. Finishing a new… here’s the headline… FIRST episode.
What’s that, you say? A second first? How can such a thing be? Does it defy the laws of all physics? Well, I sat down with Rutherford D. Actualperson to do a quick Q&A and give you all the skinny on the progress of my new series (Available on iTunes at some point one would assume!)
Rutherford D. Actualperson: Joss. You are a legend in the industry, and your forehead is a normal size proportionate to your face. Tell me about the idea behind doing a new first episode. Didn’t you already shoot one?
Joss: Yes, Ruhthie, I did. And it was grand, simply grand.
R.D.A: Then why shoot another? Also, your teeth are whitish.
Joss: I said it was grand, I didn’t say it was comprehensible. I showed some scenes to David Lynch and he’s all, “whuh?” Bad sign. But I kid.
The fact is, I’m very proud of the ep we shot and the series is making me crazy with the excitement. But I tend to come at things sideways, and there were a few clarity issues for some viewers. There were also some slight issues with tone – I was in a dark, noir kind of place (where, as many of you know, I make my home), and didn’t bring the visceral pop the network had expected from the script. The network was cool about it, but not sure how to come out of the gate with the ep.
R.D.A.: So they made you do another. It’s Firefly all over again! Run! For the love of God, HE’S CALLING FROM THE HOUSE!!!
Joss: Wow. Good panic.
R.D.A.: I try. But I am genuinely concerned. Also your smooth skin and elegant hands are making me bi-curious.
Joss: Well, the idea to do a new first episode wasn’t the network’s. It was mine. I understood their consternation, and saw the gap between my style and their expectations, and I suggested I shoot a new ep and make the one I’d shot the second. It isn’t going to be buried, like the pilot of Firefly. It’s simply coming after another, slightly cleaner ep. And because unlike Firefly, it isn’t a two hour epic which introduces everyone to each other, the onus isn’t on the new ep to explain a million things.
The fact is, Fox ordered the series before we shot a frame and then, after the strike, I had literally two months to write and prep the whole thing. Which means simply that the network has to figure out what they might want to tweak AFTER it was shot, unlike a pilot. Buffy didn’t make the fall sched, Angel got shut down when they saw the second ep outline… it’s birth pangs. The network truly gets the premise (this is a whole new crew, as you know), loves the cast, is excited about the show – but they’re also specific about how they want to bring people to the show and I not only respect that, I kinda have to slap my forehead that I didn’t tailor my tone and structure to the network’s needs, since that’s something I pride myself on.
R.D.A.: You’re not just being the good soldier?
Joss: We both know from years of experience that I’m a crap soldier, though I am an accomplished fan-dancer. No, this is a very cold look at what’s going on, and it’s not an Us vs Them. The truth is, I’m in love with this world, and I don’t care how people get into it. I have a million things to say about (and through) all of these characters, and I don’t mind which ones I say first. I think I just turned in a pretty cool pilot script. [Editor’s note: that means someone TOLD him THEY thought it was cool. He has no judgement of his own. This is sad, but on the plus side, it was probably one of his writers, who actually ARE cool. So rest easy.]
R.D.A.: So what does this mean for production?
Joss: We’ve pushed an extra few days so I can prep this bitch within an inch of its life, i.e., read it once more.
R.D.A.: But how will this affect the foundation of the very turning of our precious earth, and by that I mean Comiccon?
Joss: Yeah. Unfortunately, we won’t have a new teaser to show, since we’ll start shooting after the con. People will have to settle for chatting with Eliza and Tahmoh. But they’re likeable folk. (Sadly, Tahmoh only speaks Canadian, though he has a lovely translator at his side, like Isabella Rosselini in “White Nights”.) We’ll still rock the panel, but showing clips is kind of a tradition, so my emoticon doth frown.
R.D.A.: And the first first episode?
Joss: I’ll reshoot a few scenes, but it’ll basically air as is. When I was given seven episodes, I referred to them as “the Seven Pilots”, ‘cause you always have to lay out the premise one way or another in those early eps. So instead of Grumpy, this particular episode will be Sneezy. (Seriously. Eliza fights POLLEN! Sooo sexy.)
R.D.A.: So Eliza’s still a different character every week?
Joss: Often several.
R.D.A: And in the Dollhouse, the amazing-looking facility where all the beautiful people whose memories have been wiped live in a state of unselfconscious innocence, the showers are co-ed? [Editor’s note: the showers are co-ed?]
Joss: The showers are co-ed. [Editor’s note: HOT damn.]
R.D.A.: So nothing of substance has been changed. Shower-wise.
Joss: You are a sad, lonely actual man, Actualman.
R.D.A.: So true, so true. Thank you for talking/fan-dancing to me. Anything else you’d like to add?
Joss: Available exclusively on iTunes! Oh. About Dollhouse? Only that it’s going to be a funhouse ride of excitement, fear, existential angst and co-ed showers. That I love it. Love the writers, love the cast, and already blissfully live in the strange, compelling world of the removable self. Hmm. When I pitched it to Eliza, she said “My God, it’s my life!” But after that sentence, I think maybe it’s mine.
R.D.A.: I guess we’ll have to wait till January to see what you’ve cooked up.
Joss: And I’ll probably keep cooking till the moment I serve.
R.D.A.: Would you hold me?
Joss: Yes, Ruhthie. Yes I will.
[Editor’s note in Strongbad’s voice: IT’S OVER!]
showed some scenes to David Lynch and he’s all, “whuh?”
There were also some slight issues with tone – I was in a dark, noir kind of place (where, as many of you know, I make my home),
Question: I have a bad feeling about Dollhouse with all the changes that Joss Whedon is having to make. Actually, I had a foreboding right from the beginning. There's no question Whedon is a genius. There are episodes of Buffy that no one else could have conceived, or even conceived anything remotely like them. There will certainly never be another science-fiction series like, or maybe as good as, Firefly. On the other hand, Whedon is not a very smart genius. Read the transcript of almost any interview or listen to his commentary on any DVD episode and several things become clear. One is that he's his own greatest fan. Another is that he has no respect for what he considers the "average" viewer. His attitude is that if you don't get it, he doesn't want you in the audience. So he gives each brilliant series an unattractive or at least uninformative name and then can't persuade the networks to properly promote or (in the case of Fox and Firefly) even properly broadcast it. So, actors doing wonderful work with delightful dialogue and plot go unappreciated by the vast numbers of people who would have loved them if they had found them. It's looking very much like Dollhouse, which sounds like something produced by Hugh Hefner, is going to go the same way. — Glenn
Matt Roush: I would certainly take issue with the notion that Joss Whedon doesn't respect the "average" viewer, even if it's true he may be trying to attract those who aren't particularly interested in the ordinary. And it's not his fault that Fox treated Firefly so badly. But where Dollhouse is concerned, qualms are understandable, both on the part of fans who worry that Fox won't let Joss be Joss and on the part of the network and studio that are taking a calculated risk in letting Joss be Joss. The good news is that everyone involved is taking time and making corrections at this stage of the process. Who knows how it will all turn out, but better to put the brakes on now while they can than for things to fall apart once it's on the air. Though I'll admit it is unnerving to read of so many stops and starts. Once it's on the air, they won't have that luxury. As for the title: What's in a name, as someone once said. If the risk pays off and Dollhouse becomes the next cult thing, we won't think twice about it, just like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which once sounded so silly tripping off the tongue) has unashamedly become part of the pop-culture lexicon. The one worrisome aspect of all this is that, much as with Fringe, the buzz factor is such that if the show isn't an immediate critical or popular success, there will be those willing to write it off instead of letting it develop into something that could become the next X-Files or Buffy, both of which were allowed to gestate fairly quietly for a while before attaining cult status.
AKS skrev:Eliza's lookin' hot!
In a recent interview with Television Week, the heads of the studio that produces Dollhouse were asked about the status of the show, and 20th co-chair Dana Walden admitted, "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. … Being stuck in that limbo with a lot of well-intentioned executives is very difficult for a creator like Joss." She added that the first two episodes "are quite good. The third episode is as compelling a script as I've ever read." So while there's no doubt that Dollhouse is a risk for the studio and the network, everyone involved desperately wants to be in business with Joss, and my advice is to let them roll the dice without getting overly agitated in advance.
"It's really good," Espenson said in an exclusive interview with SCI FI Wire. "I think it could very well appeal to not just Whedonites, but a much broader audience. I think it's extremely good, and the concept just blows me away: It's fantastic, this notion of people who have been erased and are now imprintable with whatever you want them to be. ... It's sci-fi of the most human kind. It's sci-fi about people, as opposed to, you know, phenomena. And I really love that."
The show doesn't feel like anything Joss Whedon has done before, in ways both positive and negative. On one hand, it's great that the man who brought us such amazing television as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly (all among my very favorite TV shows) is creating another new world and a series that isn't directly evoking his earlier work or feeling like a simple copy of something he's done before. And there's no doubt he's come up with an idea that is noteworthy and raises lots of intriguing questions.
On the other hand, some small moments aside, the first episode – and note, this is the new first episode, replacing the earlier one which has been discarded – is surprisingly lacking when it comes to the trademark wit Whedon is known for. Even the most outwardly geeky character, Topher (Fran Kranz), has only some mildly amusing lines rather than anything all that funny or memorable, and he's the type of clever audience proxy and/or sarcasm supplier Whedon usually excels at.
FOX infamously demanded a new pilot for Firefly -- though Whedon is quick to point out that shooting a new first episode for Dollhouse was his suggestion this time -- and the result, "The Train Job" was one of the weaker episodes of that wonderful series and far from the best example of all Firefly could be. Still, it did have that pivotal moment where Malcolm Reynolds kicked a tough talking prisoner into an engine that made you sit up and go, "Oh yes, this is a Joss Whedon show alright!" Unfortunately, the Dollhouse pilot has no such moment, either in dialogue or action. It's certainly laying the foundation for something that can be quite compelling, but in and of itself, the first episode doesn't exactly grab hold in the manner I hoped for.
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Is Dollhouse as bad as we are hearing?
Joss Whedon has an unbelievably loyal fan base, and he really knows how to write to that fan base. I expect that they're going to be there. They're going to enjoy his show. One of the things about airing on Friday night, a show is not expected to have those boffo ratings.
So you're not burying him in the Friday graveyard?
No, I'm not burying him in the Friday graveyard. I'm giving him a little bit of a reprieve by being on Friday.
AKS skrev:Och tack för att du såg till att det inte blev åtta postningar på raken från mig.
adolvsson skrev:... och vad jag tänker säga vid det här tillfället är, att inte lär det bli bättre av att Dollhouse placerats på samma tid som The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Lär väl innebära risk för båda, att dom drar samma typ av fanbas, och någon av dom kommer bli lidande, och risken är stor att Dollhouse åker dit eftersom TSCC är mer etablerad vid det här laget.
Garim skrev:Samma tid är det väl ändå inte. Samma dag. Först TSCC, sen Dollhouse. Håller tummarna för att båda klarar sig. TSCC kl 8, Dollhouse kl 9 (och BSG kl 10 fast på annan kanal).
Garim skrev:Håller tummarna för att båda klarar sig. TSCC kl 8, Dollhouse kl 9 (och BSG kl 10 fast på annan kanal).
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