Dollhouse is an amazing show, and it's not even just my Joss Whedon fanbrain talking. To tell the truth, sometimes I don't even actively remember its his show because it's so drastically different from his other series in a lot of ways.
The latest episode, "Belonging," was remarkable in so many ways. Firstly, because it was only a little bit about Echo and Paul Ballard, who are basically the main characters. Hell, Tahmoh Penikett wasn't in this episode at all. Instead, "Belonging" focused on characters who haven't had a whole lot of development time - most notably, Sierra. Other than Victor, she's been the least developed character up to this point. But now we know her full self and her original self, Priya, in a good amount of depth thanks to a stellar performance by Dichen Lachman. Plus, there was a continuation of Topher's moral/self discovery, and a little hint that Boyd is far more fascinating than we realized.
Another thing that made this episode so very amazing was the delicacy and mastery of it. The themes and the character development were both delivered without the slightly-cheesy-slightly-overwritten-speech-character-speech method. I don't feel like I was told anything. But I definitely felt it all. And it was beautiful, in a way beyond the aesthetic - which is also astounding, btw.
And this brings me to my original point. Dollhouse is amazing television. I am literally in love with this show. And FOX is going to take it away and break my heart.
The countdown has started. "Belonging" is the last episode of Dollhouse to air until December. And after that, the rest of the thirteen approved episodes are going to start airing two at a time straight on to the end. Confirmed air dates: December 4, 11, and 18. And soon after that it really might be the end. Because Dollhouse's audience is hovering right around 2.5 million an episode right now - counting the DVR audience. In the real world, that sounds like a lot of people. In television, well, let's just say that 4 million is the earliest mark of the deathzone.
Fact: Dollhouse was pretty much fucked from the beginning. Why? Point one: it has always been scheduled on Fridays at 9pm. In the television community, that's known colloquially as the Death Slot. Point two: it is a Joss Whedon show. Dollhouse originated from a contract that FOX had with Eliza Dushku. She met with Joss Whedon as a personal friend to talk over the opportunity, and what resulted was the earliest iteration of the Dollhouse idea. Ask a fan, they'll tell you that's a brilliant, wonderful thing. Ask FOX, they'll be significantly less thrilled. Why? Well, once upon a time Joss Whedon had another series on FOX. A little (and I do mean little) show you may have heard of called Firefly. There were a lot of network vs. creator issues with Firefly, which I won't go into now because this is a post about Dollhouse. Just take away the understanding that Dollhouse was always destined for disaster unless an actual, straight-from-the-powers-that-be, god-given, genuine miracle interfered. And so far we haven't seen one.
So my request to anyone who reads this post is that you get fucking outraged. You head over to SideReel or the Dollhouse Facebook page now and you start making a hell of a lot of noise. Because this show is genuinely brilliant television. And it has a tangible potential future - see: Epitaph One, the unaired thirteenth episode of Season One.
I want to see Dollhouse make it the five years of planned storyline Joss Whedon has in mind. But unless something major changes RIGHT NOW, it ain't gonna happen. That is the sad, sad reality of it.
Eliza Dushku's interview with Life After Film School
Firefly Wikipedia article and related sources
Dollhouse Cancellation Watch on SideReel
EW Ausiello Files
"Dollhouse Benched" article on SideReel
(This review/newspiece/sobstory, complete with links to sources and mentioned sites, also posted on my blog at http://meltedbrain.wordpress.com)