Josef Adalian of TV Week has a great article on Joss Whedon's return to TV on Friday the 13th with Dollhouse. It's an interesting article filled with some great quotes, and thoughts from Mr. Whedon about writing for television.
He admits the Friday timeslot “definitely means that what we gave (Fox) is a little more cerebral and unexpected than they thought. They thought it was going to be slam-dunk sexy and fun … and while it has those elements, at the same time, it’s very textured.”
“I don’t look at it like we’ve been bitch-slapped,” he said. “It feels organic, like it’s the right move for the network. … The idea of giving people a chance to find it instead of just throwing it out there in a big way so that after a few episodes it can live or die—I’m good with that.”
Mr. Whedon thinks that in the less competitive Friday slot “Dollhouse” has a better chance of finding an audience beyond regulars on the Whedonesque or SciFiWire Web forums.
“We need Joe Blow,” he said. “I’ve described my fan base as ‘300.’ They are stronger than they are large. We need to find a way to communicate to people who aren’t already fans, and Friday is a better way to do that. Expectations are different.”
Whedon is a sound bite machine! My sense though is despite the positive spinning, Fridays still isn't a great place to land. While perhaps it's not being bitch-slapped compared to say, never airing at all, it doesn't seem like a great opportunity to lure Joe Blow. But the problem is, the show isn't seemingly set-up to attract the average viewer. That's why it wound up airings on Fridays.
If you want Joe Blow aren't you way better off with just plain old "slam dunk sexy and fun" instead of texturing on a little more cerebral and unexpected? Isn't Joe Blow, by his very (average) nature carrying around an average cerebellum in his skull? Is Joe Blow looking for something more cerebral and unexpected? Unless the skirts are very, very, very short, I'm guessing probably not.
There's a quote in the story from Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly that we've already heard talking about not wanting to put pressure on the show to succeed quickly by airing it, say, on a Monday.
“We didn’t want to go through that thing where we had to … either put pressure on Joss or, worse, yank it from the schedule,” Mr. Reilly said. “We’re going to let the show play out for 13 episodes and hopefully catch on.”
I don't see even the faintest of praise or real hope in there, I only see the damning. He didn't hedge much, and while I'm sure there is truth in his words, that's the problem. Basically he's worried the show would've tanked if put anywhere else and they'd have been forced to yank it. On Fridays FOX has been struggling anyway, so in the best case it gets lucky as hell and in the worst case it plays out the string similar to what NBC did with Crusoe, except without the move to Saturdays.
When it comes to Dollhouse, instead of Renew or Cancel, it's Lucky as Hell or Playing Out The String. Fridays are a challenge regardless, but finding Joe Blow with a show not targeted to Joe Blow? On a Friday night? That would be lucky as hell.
I'm rooting for lucky. For '300' reasons and more, I'm rooting for lucky.