Thursday, November 06, 2008

Welcome to the Friday graveyard, Dollhouse

So, Fox, in its quest to give me yet another migraine -- and/or to laugh so I don't cry -- just announced its mid-season schedule, which -- in typical Fox fashion -- has only a passing resemblance to the one they announced back in May. By far the biggest change -- or, at least, the one that's going to get the Internets all ablaze -- is that Joss Whedon's "Dollhouse," once set to air on Mondays as a companion to "24," has now been banished to Fridays at 9, as part of some 10-years-out-of-date all sci-fi bloc with the similarly-doomed "Terinator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles." (Speaking of which, I'll get to this week's episode eventually. Promise.)

After the jump, some more thoughts on the new schedule (and how much it deviates from the one they announced), the future of "Dollhouse," etc., etc., etc...

First, here's the lineup, night-by-night, both in terms of what they announced way back when and what the now claim it will be:

SUNDAY: Originally, it was going to be comedy repeats leading into some combination of "The Simpsons," "King of the Hill," "Family Guy," "American Dad" and "The Cleveland Show." The regularly-scheduled reruns are out, as "Hole in the Wall" (aka Human Tetris) will air at 7 & 7:30. Also, the release makes no mention of "The Cleveland Show," though I imagine it'll turn up sooner or later.

MONDAY: Was going to be "Dollhouse" at 8 and "24" at 9. Instead, it'll be "House" at 8 and "24" at 9, which defeats the whole idea of using one of Fox's established drama hits to help launch new shows. (To be fair, they did use "House" to launch one this fall, which leads us to...)

TUESDAY: "American Idol" leading into "Fringe," as planned all along.

WEDNESDAY: "House" was going to lead into a half-hour version of the "Idol" results show, followed by "TBA comedy." Instead, we'll get a one-hour "Idol" at 8, followed by "Lie to Me," a crime procedural with Tim Roth as a kind of human lie detector. Yay!

THURSDAY: "Hell's Kitchen" was going to lead into "Secret Millionaire," but instead Fox is using "Millionaire" as a twice-weekly December stunt. Instead, we'll get a rotation of "Hell's Kitchen" and "Kitchen Nightmares" at 9, and "Bones" allegedly moving to Thursdays at 8. (As with so many previous proposed "Bones" timeslots, I'll believe it when I see it airing there.)

FRIDAY: Was going to be "Bones" (see?) into "'Til Death" and "Do Not Disturb," but "Do Not Disturb" was canceled a long time ago and "'Til Death" (along with "Prison Break") will "return to the schedule at a later date." Instead, we get "Terminator" at 8 and "Dollhouse" at 9, even though the last sci-fi show to work here for Fox -- really, the last show of any kind to work here for Fox -- was "The X-Files," a decade ago.

SATURDAY: "Cops" and "America's Most Wanted," like always.

So, what do we make of all this? A few theories:

1)Fox is happy with how well "Fringe" has been doing and doesn't want to push its luck with a second sci-fi show in a plum timeslot adjacent to a hit like "24" or "Idol," particularly when the show has a concept that's much less straightforward than the one on "Fringe."

2)Fox and Joss have been having a lot of creative disagreements about the show (which Joss discussed here and here, and also here with me), and even though the show's new trailer looks all bright and shiny, they don't believe in the concept enough to place it in a piece of valuable real estate. So they're burying it along with "Sarah Connor," which has languished in fourth place in its Monday timeslot pretty much all season.

3)They do believe in the show, but also think it needs a more hard-core sci-fi show like "Sarah Connor" as a lead-in. And they also recognize that both shows are going to have niche audiences at best and are therefore placing them on a night where the bar for success is much lower.

Under any previous Fox administration, I wouldn't even consider Option 3, but Kevin Reilly is both a good guy and a champion of unusual material, so it's at least a possibility. The other two scenarios are much more likely, and either way, I'm not very optimistic for the future of either "Dollhouse" or "Sarah Connor."


Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to the Tim Roth drama and not much else.

Anonymous said...

OK so this means Dollhouse is definitely going to be canceled then. I'm already looking forward to six or so episodes getting aired before being canceled, then achieving massive success on DVD, followed by a movie several years later.

Anonymous said...

House and 24 on the same night? What a waste of the power of their two biggest hit dramas to nurture new shows.

I'm anxiously awaiting Joss's next Whedonesque post addressing this situation.

K J Gillenwater said...

As a non-Joss fan, I think he will always be an acquired taste which doesn't play well to a broad audience. I could be wrong on that...but I saw the first trailer and a clip from the original show, neither of which wowed me.

So, if he needs to bring in non-Joss fans to be successful, he's not quite doing it yet. Not sure what he needs to be doing, but it didn't work for me.

I'll probably DVR the first episode just to give it a shot, but I really am not a fan of his snappy dialogue.

Anonymous said...

One thing the schedule does, is show Fox putting a lot of faith and trust in Fringe being able to grow into another House-sized hit, something I believe to be misguided. For one thing it isn't very good, and given the 'dark' nature of the show I don't think it is a very good fit for AI at all.

Given how huge Idol's numbers are compared to everything else on TV, Fringe will still do well, but they could do a lot better in terms of retention.

Though tbf, Dollhouse would possibly be a worse fit.

If I was them I would have taken a shot at Thursdays with AI though. That 8 O'Clock slot is really vulnerable now.

Mon Dollhouse - 24
Tues House - Fringe
Wed AI - Something new
Thurs AI - Anything
Fri Bones - Prison Break/TSCC

Barring a miracle, Dollhouse is DOA. Which, based on Joss' track record, is a shame. I could have done with another network hourlong to watch, currently I only have Chuck.

Unknown said...

After two years off the air, and its most creatively disastrous season yet, I think FOX is damn smart to be treating 24 like a new show that needs the House lead-in.

It's a smart schedule, as much as it sucks for Terminator (which is getting great again) and Dollhouse.

Pamela Jaye said...

on first skim, i'm sad for Dollhouse.

looks like Joss is going to have to "get out the viewership" - grassroots.

He should start now and his fans should leaflet their neighborhoods and hold viewing parties

(i apologize - I worker for Enterprise Project from seasons 2 thru 4. It's the most proselytizing I have ever been)

What I actually came here to say was that I really hope you will watch Grey's soon, as I'm trying very hard not to burst with my thrilledness for this week's ep.

and r.a., if you are here - Thank You for the heads up on Friends and the Duck.

Since i am now officially too hyper to watch Anything Else after Grey's (sorry Tina Fey) I'm going to go... I have no idea what I'm going to do. Wait till 1am and hope they get Grey's Writers up, I guess.

Pamela Jaye said...

also, i'm inventing a new phrase (perhaps it will catch on):

so sorry to hear that Joss drew the Friday Night straw.

Alas, at the moment, my Grey's high is so high that if i had neighbors, they would think that Scott Bakula had a new show.

(and my apologies for overselling Grey's. let's pretend it was just good. okay? I do hate to oversell. causes disappointment.)

I promise to read the whole posting as soon as i land.

Matt said...

I am so incredibly ticked about the House move. That turns the massive pileup at 8 PM even more massive, which is even more upsetting given that from 9 on, there's not a whole lot worth watching on, especially once Boston Legal ends the run.

Dirk Digler said...

Is Whedon in some sort of long-term contract with Fox? After the whole Firefly debacle, I would think they'd be dead to him.

Maybe Joss will learn his lesson this time; to quote a famous Texan "fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

Pamela Jaye said...

House opposite Chuck and HIMYM????

reminds me of the year I got my DVR - and almost immediately needed THREE tuner cards. It was like the Tuesday Night Massacre.

It was FOX's fault that time too.

Anna said...

It's doomed. I'm resigned to it. I love Joss, but I'm not going to get all worked up about a show that I've never even seen yet. Once I see it, if it is amazing and then it gets canceled, I'm sure I'll be sad, but I still probably won't get worked up because I'll have expected it. So whatever.

Alanna said...

There's also the possibility that Dollhouse just isn't working out the way everyone hoped. Look, I'm not a Joss hater. I was obsessed with Buffy and Angel throughout their runs (even at the end), and I liked Firefly. But sometimes even the most prodigious creative minds have missteps where a great show on paper just doesn't come out that way in production. I hope that Dollhouse is an amazing show that runs for many seasons, but until I see it for myself, I'm not going to lay blame on Fox for mistreating it. (And while I suspect Fox is overreacting, they just might have a point.)

dark tyler said...

alanna, the thing though is that in the end FOX seem to hate the product they initially bought. Nobody can put a blame on a network if they don't like an idea, but what we have here is Joss selling them a concept only to have them completely urinating on it and changing it up. Why did they even bother?



dying alone said...

Things have changed a lot since Firefly. What are the chances that, if Dollhouse didn't survive Friday nights, the Sci-Fi Channel would pick it up? It seems like more networks are doing that these days -- with ABC/Scrubs being the most recent example.

Anonymous said...

I doubt Sci Fi will be picking up anything anytime soon. They've picked up a whole heap of reality shows and Warehouse No. Whatever is a possibillity too. As a result even Caprica is in doubt for a pickup despite execs falling over themselves to say how brilliant the pilot is. If anything they might show Dollhouse reruns post cancellation. IF it's cancelled of course.

KLE said...

The one thing AI fans complained about most loudly and frequently last season were the unbearable hour results shows. So they're doing them again.

I hate House being on at 8, I hate even more when it's not on Tuesday.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

Dollhouse sounded from the start like something that was doomed -- a high-concept vanity project for an actress of deeply limited gifts. Whedon works best under limitations against which he can push, as in the early years of Buffy or the final season of Angel. Give one of his projects any rope, though, and he'll string it right up.

Mapeel said...

I agree with kle--what is the thinking behind putting House at 8:00? THe subject matter is more adult that the 8:00 hour, and the whole sensibility of the show just feels later. Fox is completely tone deaf.

Amy said...

As someone who lives with a huge sci-fi / Wheadon nerd I think the biggest problem here that Fox made is that Friday night is the Sci-Fi network's biggest night. Maybe all those shows will be in re-runs when Dollhouse goes on the air, but I can see this being a big problem for non-dvr owning fans.

(are there still people who don't have DVRs)

Unknown said...

Well, so much for that.

Pamela Jaye said...

Amy - I have 4 VCRs. Want one?
(of course, with the way FOX schedules, you'd have to pay more attention - VCRs are so timeslot-based

Alan - sorry. forgot the Office (aka just how *much* you watch on Thursday)

M.A. - "tone deaf" is pitch perfect. that's a keeper.

and i know that someone somewhere yelled at me earlier this season for thinking House was on Monday.

Anonymous said...

If I am to believe Theory #2, then what would happen if both Terminator and Dollhouse were cancelled? They would have gaping holes in the schedule everywhere for next year. Valuable real estate would have to be taken up by kitschy reality crapola. House is safe, one wonders if 24 can make it another season after two years off, Prison Break may end after this season, American Idol will still steam along, and Fringe may still teeter on the edge of cancellation. They're gonna wish they still had Terminator and Dollhouse. it doesn't make a lick of sense to me!

Bix said...

Eliza Dushku looks really weird in that promo pic, like her neck is longer than that of a normal human being.

Pamela Jaye said...

so i'm reading the interview, and mr. glass comments the he hopes it gets a "better timeslot than Mondays at 8"

thanks mr. glass.
(though M8 would definitely not be good either. and it would be terrible for Chuck)

where *should* this show air?

looks like i'm about to have lots of free time on Tuesday...

Pamela Jaye said...

Dr. Horrible mp3 album on sale $5 today at amazon.

don't have a link but does

they are drm free but require amazon downloader to d/l whole albums.
and i'm just the messenger.

Anonymous said...

Joss was a fool for believing he could make anything with Fox. I really worry that he's lost a lot of his confidence and that he geekery/auteur issues make it too hard to do network shows (but hey, HBO is there!).

Of course, this Save the Dollhouse PSA was out months ago


Anonymous said...

I'll find House wherever they put it, it's the best show on TV, but the 8pm hour isn't really suited for it. I hate to see its ratings decline even slightly to bolster other shows, especially ones I don't care for. I'm no fan of Fringe and I'm over 24. Tuesday should be Hughsday. It just should.

Michael 8-) said...

As someone who's glued (admittedly by way of my TiVo) to Friday night's all-new sci-fi on the SciFi channel every week, this doesn't seem like such an odd competitive move on FOX's part at all...

Brandon Kosto said...

Whedon was better off taking a show with less straight forward premise like this to a cable net like FX, SciFi, or HBO.

Anonymous said...

I'm not as quickly dismissive of time slot changes as most TV fans. Whenever a show I like changes its time slot, I take a good, hard look at the network's schedule and try to work out the logic. They usually make some kind of sense, even if it puts my favorite show in a bad place. However putting Dollhouse on Fridays still doesn't make sense to me. I get why they're pairing House and 24. 24 is dipping in the ratings and they want to make it a ratings monster again before they lose too many fans. I get that. But what the hell is Lie to Me? I've never heard of it and they're giving it the choice Wednesdays-after-American Idol slot? Why couldn't they put Dollhouse there? It works well. Both shows go after a similar audience, teen girls/young women. Do they really think teenage girls would rather watch a crime procedural than an action thriller with a young female lead?

The second reason I think this is unwise of Fox is that they're damaging their relationship with Joss Whedon. Whedon coming back to TV is a big deal and they've basically ruined a project he's very passionate about. Which means he'll never come back to Fox again. You don't want lose a working relationship with an imaginative guy like Whedon.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Fox sci-fi shows from respected creators: Alan - should Virtuality be on this schedule, or would it be under consideration for next fall? I'd heard the pilot had been filmed...has Fox reached a decision to pick it up?

Anonymous said...

how bad is the friday slot these days, figuring in dvr numbers? speaking of which, i believe numb3rs, which had whedonverse alums d.b. woodside and morena baccarin on one recent ep, and of course stars serenity's david krumholtz, does pretty good business on fridays. sure it's a procedural, but it's a nerdier/geekier-than-usual procedural and probably has overlapping audience with dollhouse.

Pandyora said...

Do we have any good data on the relationship between time slots and ratings? It seems to me that in the age of tivo and hulu, time slots are much less important.

And Friday night might not be that bad. The other networks have weaker offerings, and Friday has been good for cult shows like BSG.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious why the networks worry about lead-ins anymore. Are people so lazy now they won't even pick up their remotes?

I'm a big Joss Whedon fan, and I like Eliza Dushku, so I'm looking forward to Dollhouse. I'm not counting on Fox standing behind it, but hey, anything is possible.

I've only seen a few episodes of House, but I agree that 8:00 is a weird time slot for the show. Even to this non-viewer, it doesn't seem right.

kle is right. Most AI fans I know hate the hour long results shows. I seldom watch them because it's a whole lot of irritating nothing. They barely need a half hour for the results. They could be done in an extended commercial break during another show, like those series within a series TNT has been doing lately.

are there still people who don't have DVRs

Yes. And it's better that we don't have one. I watch too much television as it is. :)

Tonya Ricucci said...

I hate FOX after what they did to Firefly. Got my hopes up that they could be trusted this time. Please please let their expectations for Friday nights be so low (anything would tank there) that they might as well leave on Sarah and Dollhouse. please.

Anonymous said...

They should make Human Tetris into a real video game -- NES original of course