Alan Sepinwall has an interesting article up on NJ.com. He goes deep into the weeds of Dollhouse history, and Alan is particularly obsessed over what the existence of the Epitaph One episode means for season two. But there were also some interesting blurbs even on the business front.
Instead, Fox — relying in part on data that showed the series’ audience rising dramatically in non-traditional viewing (time-shifting on DVRs, online streaming, downloads, etc.) — ordered a second season.
Though it’s definitely true that Dollhouse had good non-traditional viewing, it’s not clear that Fox relied on that at all, it’s only clear that Fox PR, those involved with the show, and fans rely on it as a talking point.
Because the show’s budget has been reduced (a condition of the renewal), there won’t be any money for web extras, even though Whedon realized the 2019 setting was the perfect set-up for a webisode series. But on the plus side for Whedon, if not necessarily for his rabid fans, Fox has also ended the Remote-Free TV gimmick that saw each episode running 50 minutes with limited commercial interruption.
“I’m just so grateful not to be 50 minutes long, because that turned out to be the thing that killed us,” he said. “You get a cut that’s 10 minutes too long, you’re the happiest kid in the word, because you know you’re going to get a final cut that’s extremely streamlined, where everything works. We’d get a cut that’s 10 minutes too long and we’d have to air it as it was.”
The emphasis above is mine, mostly to highlight the probability that if Fox’s basis for renewal was relying on non-traditional viewing data, it relied on that for all of about .1% worth of the decision and 99.9% on the reduced budget. It also seems highly likely that I just overstated how much Fox relied on the non-traditional viewing data by a 100%!
But I was very interested to hear Joss Whedon’s thoughts on the longer episodes due to “Remote Free”. It will be interesting to see if it makes a difference in perceived quality of the episodes, both for Dollhouse and Fringe, which also went with the “Remote Free” gimmick. It will also be interesting to see whether and how Fox will someday ressurect the “Remote Free” concept.