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Good News/Bad News

Posted on May 18, 2009 by billsimmon in Joss Whedon, SF, TV | 5 Comments

Late last week the word hit the TV trades that Fox was going to renew Joss Whedon’s creepily premised show, Dollhouse, for at least another 13-episode run. That’s good news considering it’s slagging Nielsen ratings (which were bad for a broadcast network but would have been amazingly good on a cable channel). Speculation about Fox’s decision has centered on good DVR numbers, great download numbers, the relative success of genre shows in DVD sales and Dollhouse’s loyal core fanbase.

Okay, yay. Good for Fox for taking a chance on this creative sci-fi show.

Today, however, Fox announced that as suspected, it was canceling Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles. Both Dollhouse and TTSCC shared the Friday night death slot this spring, both had relatively low ratings (for network shows) and both had all of the mitigating factors listed above as possible motivations for Fox execs giving a parachute to Dollhouse — good DVR/Internet numbers, good potential life on DVD, loyal core fan base, etc. So why Dollhouse and not TTSCC? Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly explains

It was not an either or [with Dollhouse]. We did see it tailing off a bit [in the ratings]. It had a nice creative core, but, ultimately, we made the bet on Dollhouse, so that’s it for [Sarah Connor]… We make no apologies. We gave it a lot of support and some consistent scheduling. We tried and thought it was time to move on.

So it wasn’t an “either or” but ultimately they “made the bet on Dollhouse.” Right. Far be it from me to try and fathom the minds of network executives. I’m happy Dollhouse was renewed — it’s a good show by a creator I trust (mostly) and it has loads of potential (despite having at its core, a deeply creepy premise that many fans don’t seem all that bothered by), but TTSCC was the better show. There. I said it. I wish Terminator had been the one saved in this absurd sci-fi Sophie’s Choice. I suppose I should be pleased they even saved one of these shows, but I’m bummed.



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  1. On May 18, 2009, Selene said:

    I’m going to dork out here and say that Dollhouse was renewed over Sarah Conner because it’s produced by 20th Century TV, which is owned by News Corp, which owns Fox. NewsCorp also owns Hulu–so they like Dollhouse’s DVD sales and Hulu #s and they make money off of both those things. So Fox’s “bet” isn’t much of a bet at all:

    I think I’m happy Dollhouse got renewed, despite it’s inconsistencies and, yes, very disturbing premise, but there is something sort of big brotherish about it–the withheld 13th episode that will boost DVD sales, etc.

  2. On May 18, 2009, Charity said:

    I saw the news about Dollhouse and I was happy for you. I still haven’t gotten around to checking it out, so I have no opinion.

    I am so annoyed at the decision to cancel TSCC. It was an excellent show. But also, this was a stupid move. With Terminator Salvation coming out this week, there was a good chance the show would have picked up viewers, if they gave it a decent time slot. That teaser from Brian Austin Green that the next season was going to be “incredible” makes it all the more of a let down.

  3. On May 18, 2009, Alex C said:

    I keep reading rumblings about TTSCC being picked up by the Sci Fi Channel (sorry, that’s SyFy, right?) Is this anything more than wishful thinking by forlorn fans? How would this actually work and, contractually, could it? When do they strike the sets etc. and make it practically impossible to film a 3rd season?

    (BTW it’s ConnOr not ConnEr.)

  4. On May 19, 2009, Anne said:

    I agree that the premise of Dollhouse is creepy, but I see that as its greatest strength, not a weakness. There’s the potential to make viewers confront our own complicity with creeps that is unparalleled since BSG. That being said, both these shows should be on cable, where they’d be safe.
    Also, @Selene, I think you’re totally right. Eliza Dushku (as exec producer–which also makes me think Dollhouse might have a better chance) is even in those awesome “brain soup” Hulu ads.

  5. On May 21, 2009, NickC said:



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