Fox's schizophrenic schedule screws Dollhouse

by Paul William Tenny

joss-whedon.jpgDaniel Fienberg wasn't kidding when he said that Fox's mid-season schedule "hardly bears any resemblance to the lineup announced to advertisers back in May." House is being moved again for what seems like the hundredth time in the past five years, I can hardly remember what the original time slot was. Now it'll be Monday's at 8pm, so check your local listings to make sure Fox hasn't moved your TV, your house, or your face along with its schedule.

Ratings challenged Terminator is being dumped on Fridays where it probably belongs, in lieu of being canceled, and will be joined by Dollhouse, Joss Wehdon's latest baby -- what the hell is that all about?
For a network that has enough faith in the man to keep giving him and his partners new shows, it seems pretty odd that Fox keep doing their damnedest to make anything produced by Joss Whedon fail. If you don't know the story of Firefly, go watch it and then come back here and you'll understand what I'm talking about. 13 episodes and done is the fate a show like The Sarah Connor Chronicles deserves, or maybe even Prison Break (which I love but acknowledge is mostly spinning its wheels and not bringing in good numbers), but not a masterpiece like Firefly.

Whedon's sometimes partner Tim Minear did Drive, which was driven off a bridge by Fox after just four episodes, and now we've got Doll House which instead of being paired with 24 on Mondays, which was once much loved but has outlived its niche, just got dumped on Friday nights.

What does it say about Fox's faith in Whedon that they reschedule it away from their biggest mid-season (returning) series and dump it on a Friday right after Terminator, the worst show on the network -- one that was barely managing five million viewers per, last time I checked up on it? Is this how you treat a guy with the biggest cult following around? So what if his shows don't bring in 20 million people like a CSI or a reality crapper (Dancing With Has-beens), neither does anything wonder boy (J. J. Abrams) does, but he still gets a plum slot right after House (at least until they moved it) and it has been losing a sizable chunk of its lead-in along the way I might add.

And let's be completely honest here, nobody is going to remember Terminator or Fringe or still be talking about it after they go off the air. People are still talking about Buffy The Vampire Slayer five years after it went off the air, and Firefly six years later. His shows are so good that even one that was canceled after 13 episodes still went on to spawn a feature film. Do you think that'll happen for Fringe?

Not a chance.

I don't know what else to think though, that explains why a network would support Whedon only to shaft him before he even gets to the air. Nor can I fathom why Fox would continually take a schedule that puts it on top of the seasonal ratings and screw with it every six months.

Bones is moving too, first to Fridays but now it'll air on Thursday. Prison Break isn't even on the schedule at all, even if Fox is "promising" it'll show up sooner or later.

Yeah, right.

Maybe once Fox stops playing games with its schedule and starts giving some respect to the shows that have earned it, I'll show up sooner or later to watch their irritating, arrogant network. But that's not even the worst part, because Fox has been interfering with the show on the creative level which as far as I'm concerned is the worst sin a network can commit, common as it may be.

From the man himself:

The show was ruined by Flim Flinear.

Okay, that's another lie, and you're probably close to giving up on this blog, so here we go. Yes, we've had to make adjustments. Yes, it's been hard and I've been depressing to be around for awhile. Basically, the Network and I had different ideas about what the tone of the show would be. They bought something somewhat different than what I was selling them, which is not that uncommon in this business. Their desires were not surprising: up the stakes, make the episodes more stand-alone, stop talking about relationships and cut to the chase.

Oh, and add a chase.

That you can cut to.

Nothing I hadn't heard before on my other shows (apparently my learning curve has no bendy part) but frustrating as hell given our circumstances - a pilot shot, scripts written, everybody marching together/gainfully employed... and then a shutdown.

Whedon shot the pilot, Fox bought the pilot, and Fox told him apparently to burn the pilot and film a new series premier. Has anything ever turned out well after that? Possibly, but when you're going to be watching this show based the creators history and credibility and the network rolls in and starts pushing him around 3-4 months before the show even airs, it's not exactly confidence inspiring.

If you're curious, I've embedded a trailer for Dollhouse directly below here.

in Television


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