Looking back on it, that Joss Whedon and Eliza Dushku’s Fox drama “Dollhouse” made it to two full seasons seems a minor miracle. From its earliest development days, the science fiction series about a woman whose personality can be rewritten to fit any situation and the conspiracy behind the creation of such “dolls” had a tough road ahead of it. Beyond general fan worry that Fox wouldn’t support the show and would treat in the same way it had Whedon’s scuttled “Firefly” series (Whedon only returned to the network because of Dushku’s own development deal), an early cut of the pilot was rejected before the show debuted in 2008 to on-the-bubble ratings.
Still, “Dollhouse” persevered. Due to fan response to the first season (even though the planned season finale “Epitaph One” was only released on DVD rather than over the air), the network renewed the series for a second year, keeping it in the Friday night “death slot” where it failed to gain enough viewers to continue past this year (although unlike the case with “Firefly” and even “Dollhouse” season one, this season will see its full run aired in order).
All things considered, Whedon told CBR, “The only regrets I have about it are the things I didn’t do right. 26 hours of television is a lot of time to tell story, and everybody involved was great. I just look back and go, ‘I wish I had figured some things out a little earlier.’ But that’s all the time I have for regret. It is what it is.”
Tonight, the second to last episode of “Dollhouse,” titled “The Hollow Men,” airs on Fox at 9:00 Eastern and Pacific before the series finale -Â “Epitaph Two: Return” -Â hits on January 29. “We are wrapped, and I have finalized the cut of the last episode. I just have to mix it,” Whedon said. “I’ve already packed up my office. It’s terribly sad, but I do like the last episode. So there’s that.”
While the final run the show’s of episodes have thrown plot twists, from unmasked villains to best friend back stabs to supporting character deaths in a ramp up to a definitive “Dollhouse” ending, the two “Epitaph” episodes which jumped into the bleak future of the series’ timeline revealed that Whedon and the writing staff’s plans for the show could have gone much longer. With his canonical “Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 8” a solid comic shop hit, and other similar projects making money for a variety of publishers, the immediate question for “Dollhouse” viewers is whether or not this show could also be shifted to the printed page. However, as he said when the first season was in peril, Whedon explained that a comic continuation seems highly unlikely.
“The only time it crosses my mind is when [Dark Horse Comics editor] Scott Allie pesters me as he did the other day, saying, ‘”Epitaph One” sounds like a comic! It’s post-apocalyptic!’ But my answer is ‘No.’ It’s pretty unequivocal. It could change, but I need to do the next thing, and I do spend an enormous amount of my career replatforming things I already did. After a while, it starts to just seem a little morbid.”
Beyond the fact that “Dollhouse” as a series is not solely under his own control legally, the writer felt that even with its sci-fi bent the premise of the series wouldn’t translate well to comics. “I don’t think it’s a comic. It’s a TV show…apparently not a Fox show, but it is a TV show. There are themes in it and ideas that could work in a comic, but for me to spend the amount of time it would take keeping the comic true to what’s already out there when I’m already doing that with ‘Buffy’ would be a ridiculous waste of my time. And ultimately that would net me a piece of something that belongs to Fox. It just makes no sense to do a comic with ‘Dollhouse.’ I don’t get it, and I’m not sure I’d read it. And in the amount of time it would take, I intend to do more comics, but I intend to do new comics. I’d like to throw some new ideas. And I’d like to continue ‘Buffy’ and make sure we don’t flip there and we really keep it coming.”
Catch the final two episodes of “Dollhouse” tonight and January 29 on Fox, and stay tuned to CBR in the months ahead for more coverage on Whedon projects, from “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and beyond.