Dollhouse in Trouble?

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Cain, Sep 15, 2008.

  1. Dark Gilligan

    Dark Gilligan Writer Fleet Captain

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    Using that logic, "Serenity" shouldn't have tanked. But it did, big time. The fanbase can't generate enough revenue to pay Fox's bills. Advertising revenue can... that's what show "business" means. Besides, nobody but Joss himself is going to take a bunch of people wearing "Whedon Is My Master Now" t-shirts seriously. Would you?
     
  2. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

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    To be completely accurate, it didn't make the studio reams of money. It didn't actually lose the studio much money, probably none after DVD sales are counted. But that ain't sexy in the movie biz.

    Absolutely true, I think that's the lesson to take from Serenity: No core fanbase can be sufficient, you have to target the general audience.

    I don't think a minor joke poking fun at Star Wars Episode 3 is really intended to be taken seriously in the sense that you mean.
     
  3. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I chuckled when JMS introduced that. :D He got it from his Screenwriting 101 textbook: the first thing you do in building any character is ask yourself what the character wants.

    "Who Are You" isn't very interesting unless the character wants something. Simply exploring a character can be a lot of fun - Dexter is a great example of that - but in that case, you better have one hell of an actor to back up your writing and keep the audience's attention riveted even during the "boring" navel gazing parts.

    And you still need some sort of internal conflict for the character to explore, to give the question some dramatic interest. Resolving the conflict is what the character wants, so "Who Are You" and "What Do You Want?" are the same question anyway.

    They're made to attract the specific eyeballs the advertisers want - just to be totally precise.
     
  4. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    From what I remember of a Dollhouse trailer, Fox was wanting to sell RoboHos: The Series. If Whedon had other ideas, there would be the dread "creative differences." The Fox people may well be right in thinking that sex would sell better. (And, sight unseen, I'd guess that Fox executives who think there are major problems with Prison Break are right. Serials usually have grave flaws, because the format demands artificially delayed resolutions, including character rewrites.) Or bad times may just be making them freak out over budgets. Usually (but not always!) when a show is so bad that TV executives, whether Fox or not, are worried about the quality of the product, the show is really bad. This is a bad sign, but not definitive. No point in freaking out til the premiere.
     
  5. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Frankly, RoboHos also sounds boring. :rommie: They have sex, so what? It's broadcast TV, so they can't show anything. If I wanted to watch porn, I'd watch porn. I really don't think heavily censored sex will sell, given the available competition.

    I'd much rather have some really interesting sci-fi drama with fascinating characters who are trying to do something with their lives - even if it's only to find themselves - that we can root for. They can have sex when the story needs that, they can play video games or go to the mall or eat a burger or anything else for that matter. You can't build a story around any of that.

    Prison Break
    's flaw is that it had a great one-season premise, and no plan for doing anything to extend the story well. They had a second-season plan for everyone being on the run, but that was a major let-down. Since then, they've been completely flailing.

    There are many premises that can last for several seasons or even indefinitely; the fact that PB doesn't have one of them doesn't mean Dollhouse can't.
     
  6. blockaderunner

    blockaderunner Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    And therin lies the problem. Whedon fans, myopic as they are, believe that Whedon fans, and only Whedon fans, matter. They don't realize the 90% of the rest of the audience exists. Network executives do. That's why they are network executives and Whedon is just another showrunner with a rabid, and insignifigant, cult fanbase.
     
  7. I am not Spock

    I am not Spock Commodore Commodore

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    I'm a big fan of Joss Whedon's work, and have enjoyed all of his series to date, but sadly, I don't think Dollhouse is long for this world. I can't understand why he came crawling back to FOX. I thought he was disillusioned with the TV business after what went down with Angel and Firefly.
     
  8. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

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    If Dollhouse has half the actual quality of Firefly, it'll have no trouble retaining non-Whedon fans. Firefly certainly didn't, it had a larger audience than Buffy as I recall. (Sadly on network with *much* higher expectations though.)

    The problem will be attracting the general public's attention in the first place, not keeping them watching once they tune in. But then, that's always the first problem, isn't it?

    Joss tends to create these immersive, fascinating worlds filled with fun characters and general epicness....but he always has to package them in ways that make the average joe say, "huh?" and change the channel without really taking the time to see what's what. It may once have been a virtue----"If the name Buffy the Vampire Slayer is enough to turn them off, I don't want them watching anyway"----but come on, give us something that'll last more than a season....
     
  9. tharpdevenport

    tharpdevenport Admiral Admiral

    It costs a lot of money to get a new show. You got to hrie wirters, go through endless processes of reading scripts, re-writing, even hiring new writers, green lighting, designing and building new sets, hiring actors, find advertisers who want to advertise in the risky new show that might not get viewers and waste the advertiser's money.
    It's perfectly easy to say Wehdon fans dont' realize something, but what you don't realize is Whedon knwos what he is doing and can draw the viewers in. He knows how to work within a budget, and advertisers know he draws an audience. Network interference can only cost THEM money when all is said-and-done.
     
  10. stonester1

    stonester1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    See, that's just it, I tend to go for shows that have GREAT characters well acted. And I don't easily get bored. I thrive in "artspace".

    :)

    Well, not quite the same thing. I think "Who Are You?" is a very non-specific question in opening up self definition. "What Do You Want?" is a more defining question, in itself, is not interesting. Conflict, by itself, is not interesting, at least not to me. A follow up question, "WHY do you want it?" gives the conflict more definition, more stakes, and to me, more interest.

    But I see conflict as a tool, and only one kind of tool, one of many that should be used when telling a story and defining a character.


    Well, that's what matters to the executives. But the shows that matter, the shows that will be remembered, and viewed on DVD by rabid fans repeatedly, are those that have a vision behind them, something a creator wants to say. A burning desire to share a story on this particular canvas.

    If it makes cash and draws eyeballs, everyone is happy. The suits get to count beans, the storytellers can continue the tell, and the fans continue to enjoy it.

    Everyone just needs to remember their roles. The bean counters need to just stay away and count the beans, the storytellers need to keep the passion and don't lose the appreciation for how special this is, and the fans need to remember that as well, and also remember that they aren't the ones telling the story here, and if it goes one way or another that they didn't anticipate, and didn't want it to, doesn't mean the storytellers don't know what they are doing (Monday morning quarterback fans annoy me, especially the shippers who get crazy when the character hookups don't go the way they want it).
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2008
  11. stonester1

    stonester1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Preach it! Not that porn can't work without an engaging narrative, but I've found that "erotica" is better in the printed word and in comics. It's very rare that you can get the actors with the qualities you need to handle both in depth acting and explicit sex on camera. So...just let porn be porn and art be art.

    :D

    Also right!
     
  12. Bob The Skutter

    Bob The Skutter Complete Arse Cleft Premium Member

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    He didn't go crawling back to Fox. From the story he gave in the interviews when he first talked about the show what happened was that Eliza had been given a deal with Fox, and she had dinner with him to talk about ideas she could use for her first show, and during the dinner the idea came to him.
     
  13. Bishbot

    Bishbot Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Surely people are looking at this the wrong way - talking about "Whedon fans" and whether there are enough of them? There's a reason this guy has a group that can be called Whedon fans - he's really, really good at writing television programmes that people care about. Its not just that his "fans" will accept any old shit that he writes - its that he hasn't yet let them down. That's why its bizarre to anyone that knows his work that a network can't see the asset that they have in him.
     
  14. stonester1

    stonester1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Indeed. It would be one thing if he were known for just laying down a trail of crap.

    He's not. The tea he brews may not be what you want in your cup, but one doesn't get the rep and esteem he has for being a hack.
     
  15. blockaderunner

    blockaderunner Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Or, Networks haven't wised up to what a liability he is. Let's face it. Whedon is the prime example of the phrase "Failing your way to the top". His first series had a less than stellar final two seasons (by his own fanbase's opinion), and he get's a spinoff. The spinoff gets cancelled due to low ratings (antiquated as the system is, ratings still do matter), and he gets another series. That series gets cancelled after one season, and he gets a movie greenlit. The movie tanks at the boxoffice, and after a period of time, he gets another series. Anyone else with this kind of track record wouldn't even work for craft services, let alone be a showrunner. This revelation regarding Dollhouse shows that someone up top is finally wise to his sleight of hand con game. But still, are execs still that attentive to his flock. The sooner they realize that the Cult Of Whedon has as much impact as a gnat on a donkey's balls, the sooner they can put this guy out to pasture or, at the most, keep him in comics and allow him to wallpaper his house with Whedon worship letters.
     
  16. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

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    By which point Joss Whedon wasn't actually all that involved with it anymore. He was too busy developing Firefly at that point. The final two years of Buffy were primarily Marti Noxon's responsibility.

    Angel began concurrent with Buffy's fourth season, back when Buffy was at its height, critically speaking.

    Actually, the ratings were fine. Not stellar, but respectable. Angel was ended after its fifth year (a respectable run for any show) for a variety of reasons; the one the WB claimed was that they were looking to "revitalize our lineup" by trying a different vampire show (which, as I recall, never actually went anywhere). Shame, too; it was still going strong on the creative side.

    Firefly was greenlit before Buffy ended, and aired (and was cancelled) before the news of Angel's ending came down. Actually, this generated some negative buzz since some people blamed season 7's diminishing quality on Joss being involved with three shows at once.

    Primarily because Mary Parent saw huge untapped potential in the concept, as I understand it. Rare case of an executive and a fan seeing things the same way. Besides, Serenity was more or less a hook that Universal was willing to offer to get a deal with Joss signed. Its actual performance was less important to them than that, I suspect, although I'm sure they would have appriciated more than the break-even numbers it offered.

    Well, anyone capable of garnering as much critical praise as he does must be doing something right. (I know what it is. He's funny. But I'd still be curious to see how you explain it if he's such a menace.) Besides, if nothing else, being the name behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer still counts for a lot in Hollywood. And the looming writer's strike certainly helped.

    I don't know what your issue is with Joss Whedon, but at least get your timeline right.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2008
  17. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Actually, the majority opinion of Season 7 is that, while it wasn't Buffy's BEST offering, it was still good enough. I don't agree with that opinion, but that's besides the point.

    As Lindley already said, ANGEL was spun off of Buffy during that series' fourth season, way back in 1999. Also, as Lindley said, the reason that the WB gave for cancelling ANGEL had nothing to do with ratings, and everything to do with some exec deciding to make the boneheaded decision to take the network in a 'new' direction.

    FOX approached Joss with an offer of another series because of the success he'd had for them with BtVS and ANGEL, which was - and still is - legitimate.

    Regardless of what the FOX executives said, they cancelled Firefly for one reason and one reason only: they got blinded by greed, and when the series didn't turn out the way they thought it was going to, they covered their own asses and cancelled it. The ratings were an excuse, not a reason.

    Mary Parent recognized what the executives at FOX didn't, and gave Joss the opportunity to return to the Firefly universe because of its untapped potential. Also, Serenity didn't tank; in the end, it broke even. While breaking even can't necessarily be considered a success, it's also at the same time not a failure, either.

    You're conveniently overlooking the fact that Joss wasn't even looking to get back into television at the time he came up with the idea for Dollhouse. Eliza Dushku had just signed a development deal with the new FOX regime, and invited him to lunch so she could get some career advice from him. During their lunch date, they started talking, and the idea for DH just came to Joss out of the blue. Because the idea was created specifically to accomodate Eliza and her deal with FOX, he went with her to pitch the idea to the network, and Kevin Reilly liked what he heard to the point that he greenlit the series based solely on Joss and Eliza's pitch.

    Like Lindley, I don't know what your problem with Joss is, but, if you're going to take a stand against somebody (which is your perogative), you should try doing some fact-checking. Otherwise, you look like a complete idiot.
     
  18. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

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    Well, I'm not going to pretend this thought hadn't crossed my mind, but at this point I don't think it's worth belaboring the point. The ratings really weren't all that good for Fox. Still better than Buffy or Enterprise was getting over on UPN though.

    It failed to spawn a continuing movie franchise, which was disappointing. But since the fact of the movie's very existence was pretty much a miracle, I don't really let that bother me as much as it once did.
     
  19. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Go back and listen to Joss and Tim's comments about the cancellation of Firefly (they're on the DVD). They pretty much state, in bald-faced terms, that FOX used the ratings as an excuse to justify cancelling a series that they didn't even understand from the moment they first greenlit it.

    Yes, it failed to generate enough revenue on its own merits, but it's only really a 'disappointment' or 'failure' amongst the Browncoat community (of which I'm a proud card-carrying member). From a broader perspective, the film was neither a success NOR a failure; it was simply a 'blip' on the radar.
     
  20. CaptJimboJones

    CaptJimboJones Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well, it's not just that it "wasn't sexy" - it was bad business, and would have been in any industry. If you pour money and time and resources into any business venture, and the best you do is break even or earn a very small profit, that's a failure by virtually any measure. The point is to make a big profit. From a studio's standpoint, there were big opportunity costs with Serenity, given that the money might have been invested in something else that would have done a lot better.

    I'm not saying this to bash Serenity - I'm a big FF/S fan. (Also not bashing Lindley, one of the most clearheaded Browncoats you'll find out there.) But too often my fellow fans try to defend its financial performance by claiming it broke even or made a little money. And by pretty much any objective business measure, I'm afraid to say Serenity was a major disappointment, based on the limited financial information available.

    As to the topic of Dollhouse, it looks like a compelling, very different concept that could make for a great show. Given that it's on Fox, I can almost guarantee that the show will not be successful. I hope I'm wrong (hey, I was astounded when Lost was a hit, so who knows?)