Update 9/26: you can check out the preliminary ratings for the season two premiere.
Obviously four and a half short months ago I didn't think I'd be eating any crow for Say Goodbye to Dollhouse.
But it turned out to be a pretty big crow and I've been chewing on it for the last four months, and paying penance by posting this poster in every Friday report for the last month (and making it my Twitter background for the last month):
But my penance is just about over, and now, finally, Friday September 25 at 9pm is upon us and the madness begins again.
I'm sure there will be a lot of attention on Dollhouse's ratings and its DVR numbers. But if last year taught me anything, it's that paying attention to Dollhouse's ratings might not matter much in terms of whether the show is renewed or canceled.
I've heard all the arguments about why it won't be renewed after the 13 episodes air, and I've heard the arguments about why the renewal is a certainty. But the bottom line is this: I won't be surprised by anything barring massively worse ratings than last year. I don't expect massively worse ratings than last year.
I won't be surprised if it loses two tenths of a ratings point with adults 18-49 and is back next September anyway, and I won't be particularly surprised if it it gains two tenths of a ratings point with adults 18-49 and isn't back next year.
Why did FOX renew Dollhouse?
I'm not a conspiracy theorist, and I don't believe FOX renewed the show for 13 episodes simply to screw with TV by the Numbers, but that reason strikes me as just as plausible as any of the explanations for renewal that I've heard. OK, that's a lie.
The most plausible reason I have is FOX really likes Whedushku (Joss Whedon and Eliza Dushku), and sometimes, especially perhaps on Friday nights "we like you" might be enough of a reason. Especially when you're not all that expensive. Also, FOX seems intent on sending the message that it isn't throwing in the towel on Friday nights by throwing on unscripted shows or repeats of their dramas.
FOX may yet throw in that towel, but I wouldn't look for a towel toss anytime soon. Barring massive ratings drops I think the one thing you can count on is seeing all 13 episodes of Dollhouse. Whether you'll see more either via a back nine pickup or a renewal for another season of 13 episodes next year is a story still waiting to be told.
Please note: I'm not a Dollhouse basher. When it comes to the show itself, I've seen every episode that has aired and even one that didn't air -- Epitaph One -- which was actually my favorite episode. But here, we look at ratings, and the ratings for Dollhouse simply weren't that good.
The DVR effect is real, but...
A lot of talk has been made to the DVR effect and how when you factored in all of Dollhouse's DVR viewing the #s weren't that bad for a Friday night. And technically, that's true. But Dollhouse aired no repeats, so it does compare favorably to the season averages for say, Wife Swap and Supernanny, which did air repeats and had a lot less DVR viewing overall. It still got dusted by Ghost Whisperer even with Ghost Whisperer repeats factored in, but I don't think FOX was ever expecting Dollhouse to best Ghost Whisperer.
Dollhouse's loyal DVR viewership -- and I'm factoring out the DVR viewers who watched the show the same night -- consistently added about a million overall viewers to the average and about .5 of an 18-49 ratings point to the Live+SD numbers we (and everyone else) regularly report. So when you see the overnight ratings for Dollhouse, you don't need to wait weeks for the Live+7 numbers to guess that you can just add around a million viewers and a .5 to its 18-49 rating. So if it gets 3.8 million viewers and a 1.5 adults 18-49 rating, you can pretty much figure it will be around 4.8 million and a 2.0 adults 18-49 rating when the Live+7 numbers come out. That might not actually wind up being the case, but it should serve as a good proxy to occupy you during the lag for the Live+7 reporting.
My best guess is that if it averages a 1.4-1.5 adults 18-49 rating in Live+SD numbers, FOX should be OK with it. But keep in mind, last year in order to get to those averages it premiered with a 2.0 live+SD adults 18-49 rating and ended with a 1.0 adults 18-49 rating.
This year, the competition is stiffer
Dollhouse will face off ultimately against scripted dramas Medium, Southland and Ugly Betty though for the first couple of Fridays it will be repeats of new ABC shows on ABC, and Dateline episodes on NBC (edit: and Stargate Universe on Syfy).
No polls, but
I'd include a poll for you to guess the ratings for the season two premiere, but I'm wary of gaming from fans of a certain show that used to air on FOX on Fridays that is no longer airing on FOX on Fridays (or any other day). But you can feel free to post your predictions in the comments. No prizes, just chest-thumping rights.
My prediction is 3.3 million and a 1.3 adults 18-49 rating.
Edit: I'm taking the opportunity to take the over on Robert and will go with a 1.4 demo rating, 3.5 million viewers. - Bill