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Remember the Dollhouse

Dollhouse_epitaph_one

So what are you doing with your Friday evening? Because tonight's the night that Dollhouse, the Joss Whedon weirdathon that Fox envisioned as a crappy Eliza Dushku vehicle, officially defies all television logic by returning for a second season.

MamaPop has spent a fair portion of its time bringing the love for this uneven but compelling series that debuted last season to low ratings and finished to even lower ratings (seriously, it was like watching a boat sink for months).  In a rational world - the one we inhabited even five years ago - it would have been cancelled after a dozen episodes and gone down in Whedon history as another Firefly.

But that didn't happen this time. Why?  Some spoilers ahead if you haven't watched the first season.

Part of it can be attributed to the changing world of entertainment, in which networks may be willing to make surprising decisions.  It may be that Fox took note of the fan campaigns and decided that Dollhouse could function, perversely, as a piece of geek prestige programming.  In a world where an untelevised show can win an Emmy (Whedon's internet musical Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog), all bets are off. We can probably expect a bit more erratic maneuvering as networks try to adapt to the times.

But the real reason is probably money.  Whedon demonstrated that he could make Dollhouse for less of it, which means more for Fox.

The key to the show's continued life is "Epitaph One," the quick-and-dirty episode made to fulfill a requirement for international DVD sales.  Shot around other episodes with a different cast and crew, Epitaph One is a trip into a near-future world in which the mind-swapping technology of the Dollhouse has been weaponized, the human race has been reduced to an ember and the Dollhouse is shuttered and (almost) empty.  It's a huge leap to go from a sci-fiesque thriller with Eliza Dushku in leather pants to a post-apocalyptic wasteland with Felicia Day in baggy clothing, but it works as a logical and almost inevitable extension of the series' premise.

Epitaph One is great television. But more importantly, it's cheap televsion. Which is what Whedon pointed out to Fox last April.  And lo: more Dollhouse, free to pursue its design to its nightmare end, where mind-wiped zombies hunt the streets and another utopian promise ends in ruins. Awesome!  Let's hope Fox doesn't cancel it right away.

Also: Summer Glau is joining the cast after her run as a killer robot on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.  And Alexis Denisof, formerly of Buffy and Angel as the bumbler-turned-badass Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, will feature heavily this season.

The second season of Dollhouse debuts tonight on Fox.







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Comments

Accidental Housewife

OMG! Summer! Really?! That's awesome!

makyo

i thought epitaph one was originally meant to be shown as the season finale but was dropped because fox demanded a new premier episode to be shot and thus exceeded their 13 episode limit.

i could be wrong. either way, i will definitely be watching tonight :)

Sofia

Just watched epitaph yesterday and loved it. Makes me actually want to watch the second season!

Palinode

makyo - Epitaph One happened because Fox Network ordered 12 eps but 20th Century Fox required 13 for international DVD distribution. Strange, yes. But it worked out well for all of us.

The DVD set also features the unaired pilot, which is fascinating to watch. Scenes and lines were cannibalized for later episodes, but the story structure is significantly different. Whedon's original vision was for an introspective, almost ponderous show. I won't spoil it, but I highly recommend it as a view of what could have been. In a way I think it was a good thing, because "Man on the Street" does the same stuff as the pilot, but in a much more clever manner.

Elizabeth

If Dollhouse had been cancelled, I would have never watched Fox again. Now we just have to see if enough people watch it to give it a third season. I love that Summer and Alexis will be on the show. I just hope Topher gets less annoying.

Palinode

Elizabeth - In season two Topher will not have any dialogue. Instead he emits a high-pitched buzzing noise that will make your teeth fall out.




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