It seems that, sometimes, no matter how smart, how full of ideas, how fun a thing may be, it will still outlive it’s usefulness to the people who run the show. Heck, if beer can have an expiration date, so can everything else. And so the day that all Joss Whedon fans knew would come has arrived: Dollhouse has been canceled by Fox. Apparently, they’ll air the balance of the 13-episode order and, most likely, shuttle it to DVD as quick as possible.
It’s not a surprise, really, given how anemic the ratings have been — the real surprise was that the Eliza Dushku mind-wiping show got a second season in the first place. And it’s not a surprise to anyone who knows Whedon’s history with Fox, the same network that gunned down Firefly after airing as many episodes as you can count on two hands. The writing has been on the wall for almost as long as there’s been a wall.
From where I sit, there are two ways to feel about this:
1) Pissed, because there won’t be any more episodes of a TV show that was just beginning to hit its creative stride. Joss tends to get better as he goes; breaking down some characters, building up others, seeing just how far he can push the world he’s created until it snaps, then snaps back. I’d have liked to see him get to the point where he, and his staff, was truly firing on all cylinders.
2) Pleased, because it’ll free Whedon from a show that, let’s be frank, was never going to climb out of the hole it was in. Dollhouse had too much viewer attrition and too little network support. It’ll let him chase down the myriad other things he could be doing — writing more comics, making more Web content, and, perhaps (as more than a few people have suggested) getting in bed with a cable network that’ll give him the latitude to do what he likes, how he likes. As for what Whedon’ll do next, here’s what he posted on Whedonesque: “I’m off to pursue internet ventures/binge drinking. Possibly that relaxation thing I’ve read so much about. By the time the last episode airs, you’ll know what my next project is. But for now there’s a lot of work still to be done, and disappointment to bear.”
I sit firmly in between the two camps. I liked Dollhouse, but didn’t love it — I kept watching because I knew that, at least once or twice, Joss would surprise me. And that patience was rewarded in episodes like “Man on the Street,” “Epitaph One,” and “Belonging” — all episodes that deserve a slot in the Whedonverse Hall of Fame.
Where do you fall: pissed or pleased? Or maybe you never watched the show and don’t give a flying frak.