I've received a few e-mails today and I'm sure people have posted links in the comments to a story that FOX is considering renewing Dollhouse. Ah, the Internet, where speculation runs rampant. So let me add my $.02 of speculation.
Until announcements are made, of course that is fair speculation, but these kind of stories seem to suggest that while the ratings are worse than even FOX expected them to be on Friday nights, that FOX is mesmerized by the critical acclaim for recent episodes. Simply put, that's complete BS.
While it's true the vaunted sixth episode was generally well-received by critics, it did absolutely nothing for the show's ratings. And anecdotally, critical reception of the two episodes that followed has been mixed. But it's irrelevant really. Here's the deal: the show won't be back if it keeps pulling 1.4 overnight ratings among adults 18-49. FOX will not consider renewing it with those numbers. I think it needs to get to a 1.6, and probably a 1.7 for FOX to even consider bringing it back for a second season.
While it's definitely possible the show could turn the ratings around and improve them, it isn't very probable. The trend has been down since the premiere and while things have flattened out the last couple of weeks, the trend hasn't really been reversed.
Some are suggesting that things will improve when Dollhouse has Prison Break as a lead-in. I'm not thinking there will be much improvement, and certainly not in the range of 15%-20% improvement to the 18-49 ratings that seem necessary at a minimum to keep the show afloat.
Will FOX keep an open mind and see what happens? I certainly think that is likely. But I doubt that FOX execs are truly any more optimistic than I am that it will actually happen. And I've seen nothing to indicate, "hey, we believe in this show and are going to spend a couple extra million to promote it!"
FOX is simply playing it in a fashion where if it does miraculously turn around they, like the fans, can be ecstatic, and if it doesn't it is well positioned to say, "Hey, we tried, it didn't work."
UPDATE: from our friend, "Travis Yanan" who posted in the comments:
FYI, Friday’s episode pulled a 1.5 in finals.
A 1/10th of a ratings point improvement over the prior week isn't necessarily a trend, but up is up, and 1.5 is closer to 1.7 than 1.4 is!