is an especially tricky one. If it had lasted any less than 3 years, it would run the risk of having too few episodes to be successfully syndicated. If it had run any longer than 3 years (and assuming that Season 4 would have been as dodgy as Season 3), it would run the risk of running itself into the ground.
As for Firefly,
my current theory is that most of Joss Whedon's failures stem from an inability on his part to create a succinct sales pitch for his own work. After all, people tend to love all of his stuff. The difference between his successful & unsuccessful work is that the successful stuff can usually be summed up in one sentence.
It's about a vampire who runs his own paranomal private detective agency.
It's a bunch of superheroes.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer--
It's in the frickin' title!
On the other hand, I've watched nearly every single episode of Dollhouse
and I still can't really explain what it was about. Even the show itself seemed to struggle in each episode to try to explain its own premise to its more dense viewers.
can't really be explained briefly without sounding kinda stupid. Plus, the titles do nothing to convey what it's about.