Closing the Dollhouse Door

Yes, it’s true, Fox has axed yet another of Joss Whedon’s wonderful and groundbreaking shows. While the first season’s low ratings were overlooked by the company, the second season was not so lucky. The November sweeps numbers dropped even further, and Fox decided that it was not a worthwhile investment to continue the show through the entire season. While hardcore Whedon fans will mourn yet another show’s end, the reasons behind the decision are understandable.

When compared to the DVD only episode Epitaph One, this season’s episodes have been fairly weak. The promised mythology hinted at in the beginning of the season seems stagnant and the personal interaction with specific characters is only explored in a cursory manner. While I was thrilled and awed by the episode Epitaph One, this season has not been nearly as intriguing. It is like reading the end of a book without walking through the story with the characters, and it seemed as though the weekly episodes were not indicative enough of the path that would lead to that end. The world of Epitaph One is interesting and thought provoking, but the vast majority of the audience did not see that future world. Because the episode was only available on DVD the number of people who saw it was small, and DVD watchers do not contribute to ratings. Firefly had the same problem, and it seems that the audience for Whedon’s work, while vocal and interested, is not the type of audience that will sit down and watch advertisements.

I really don’t know how to react to this news. The complexity of the show is intriguing, but it doesn’t haunt the audience in their dreams. Though the show could have had a ‘monster of the week’ flair it attempts to delve deeper with every character and episode. The weird in between that Whedon flirted with in Firefly is the same strange thing that happened in Dollhouse. There is the potential for a deep and intense story, or a thrilling action ride, but trying to do both ends up not delivering completely on either. The seasons show so much promise, but ultimately fail to deliver on that promise. While my imagination can supply the extra information needed to enjoy this series, I am pretty sure that the majority of Fox’s prime time audience cannot. It comes down to how much the audience must be involved in a show. If the creators expect their audience to think, then no matter how great the show it will ultimately cave to CSI and America’s Next Top Model.

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