Last Tuesday on a 45 minute train ride home, I pulled out the iPhone and began watching Dollhouse’s unaired 13th episode, Epitaph One. The train arrived with about 5 or 6 minutes of the show left and I sat in the train station and finished it off. I don’t know how I could give it any higher praise than that. I really wasn’t expecting anything much of it which is why I didn’t watch it on the train ride out (I confess, I watched a breezy episode of The Closer).
It winds up seeming ironic that FOX never aired the episode, because in my opinion it was the best episode of Dollhouse by a wide margin. If you lined up all the Dollhouse episodes in a 100 yard dash, for me, this episode beat its closest competitor by at least 50 yards. It blew the field away. It was a great hour or at least close to 50 minutes of television. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have been as compelling as a stand-alone episode because understanding some of the Dollhouse mythology was definitely important, but I really enjoyed the episode.
I’m going with the theory that Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen who wrote the episode were tasked with writing a series finale and did a wonderful, wonderful job of it. Everything was going according to script too. I think the forecasted script must have been: 1.) FOX wasn’t going to air the 13th episode, 2.) FOX would cancel Dollhouse, and 3.) the DVD would come out, and fans would absolutely rave about the episode and damn FOX for cancelling the show and extending the legacy (perhaps purely mythological) that Joss Whedon always gets screwed over by FOX.
And everything was going exactly according to plan until FOX screwed the whole thing up by renewing Dollhouse. I’m already wondering about over/under 1000 “Dollhouse was cancelled because FOX screwed up and never aired Epitaph One! Damn you FOX!” comments within the first three days of whenever Dollhouse is ultimately cancelled.
FOX could head that off at the pass too. What a remarkable thing it would be if they actually, you know, aired the season two premiere of Dollhouse as a two hour special that had Epitaph One in the first hour. Sure, for that to happen FOX broadcast’s sibling Fox Studios would likely need to give their sibling the episode for free. Blasphemy, I know, but they probably should do just that. Even among fans of the show, some very significant portion will never have seen Epitaph One. Why not give the loyal fans, even the ones who didn’t spring for the DVD a treat. It’s not like FOX would have to announce they were doing that until the DVD had been out for six weeks…
I’m not a Whedon fanboy, and though I saw every episode of Dollhouse, I wouldn’t consider myself a huge fan of the show either. It could be that my reaction is exaggerated because I didn’t really have high expectations, but you can mark me down as a huge fan of Epitaph One. It was a great episode.
Meanwhile the Internet will fill up with posts about what does it mean for season two that Epitaph One even exists at all? I’ll leave it for others to navel gaze over that, my navel gazing preference is to ponder whether the ultimate series finale can come anywhere close to topping Epitaph One.
The bar has been set pretty high.
The DVD for Dollhouse season one, including the unaired Epitaph One goes on sale this Tuesday, July 28.