Fri
Nov 13 2009 1:06pm

Dear FOX: Don’t Worry, You Did Good

Dear FOX Networks,

When I discovered that you’d canceled the Joss Whedon show Dollhouse on Wednesday I did what I believe the kids call a Happy Snoopy Dance. Finally! I thought. It took you long enough. While my reaction was typical amongst many of my friends, I see that the Internets at large have not been so kind. Twitter and Facebook and LiveJournal and other disparate corners of the web are filled with angry viewers shaking their fists in your direction. “Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!” I’ve seen more than once.

Well, FOX, I’m here to say: don’t listen to those people. You did the right thing in canceling Dollhouse. My only gripe is that you didn’t do it soon enough. However, I’m going to put that particular issue aside and focus on what’s good. Dollhouse will die the death it deserves and you can get back to doing whatever it is you do over there, FOX. Maybe we’ll get another reality show or something. Or maybe you’ll bring The Sarah Connor Chronicles back.

Before all the rest of you jump down my throat, I know FOX has a history of doing good TV shows wrong. Are you old enough to remember Alien Nation? That was my first disappointment at the hands of FOX, and there would be many more. But that's not the case with Dollhouse.

Now, now FOX, don’t get twitchy. You know just as well as I do that you’ve made some bad decisions in the past. And, yes, Firefly was one of them. However, you’ve finally figured out that you can’t right that wrong by allowing Dollhouse to continue. It’s a different show, and Joss Whedon is no longer the Master. (He never was my master. Feminist my ass.)

The bottom line is that when you’ve got a show with a lead who can’t act and is consistently shown up by her supporting cast and occasional guest stars, you have a problem. When you’ve got a show with a sketchy premise that does not live up to the responsibility of that premise but simply shows us the worst kind of people and then attempts to make us sympathize with them, you’ve got a problem. When the audience has to wait until season 2, episode 5 to see some decent writing, acting, and direction, you’ve got a problem. When television journalists insist that an audience owes it to a creator of television to watch and wait and give a show time to go from crappy to not as crappy as all that, you’ve got a problem. Thank you, FOX, for acknowledging these problems and dealing with them in the way you know best: by sweeping them under the rug.

FOX, over the next few weeks, months, even years you will get a lot of crap and snide remarks and hate mail and maybe even some tomatoes thrown at your office. When that happens and you feel bad, come read this post and know that a few of us out here have your back and know you did the right thing. It may be small comfort, but perhaps it will keep you away from the bottle of sleeping pills. Stay strong, FOX.

Lots of love,
Tempest

P.S. While you’re in the canceling mood, can you axe Family Guy, too? That show stopped being funny like 3 years ago.


K. Tempest Bradford is an African-American science fiction and fantasy author and editor.

108 comments
Foxessa
1. Foxessa
"The bottom line is that when you’ve got a show with a lead who can’t act and is consistently shown up by her supporting cast and occasional guest stars, you have a problem."

Ha! That's exactly what I predicted would be the case when announcements of Dollhouse first appeared.

Not to mention all the other problems, starting with defaulting back to zero in terms of character development due to mindwiping.

Love, C.
Karen Wester Newton
2. kwnewton
Well said! I'd certainly like to think that if someone came up with the technology to erase trauma and fill people's brains with knowledge as easily as pouring coffee into a cup, they would use it for more than putting women in leather miniskirts and making them hookers.
Chris Long
3. radynski
What a crappy, stupid thing to post.

Obviously there are a lot of people upset about this cancellation, many of whom frequent these forums. Can you think of a more crass thing to say?

You basically got up on your soapbox, and loudly proclaimed "I told you so, ha ha ha ha ha! And here again is why it sucks."

Sit down, stop being childish and come back when you have something meaningful to say on a topic of interest.
Foxessa
4. ActiveDoll
Don't agree - i liked Dollhouse, and i thought this season was much stronger than the first. But hey, we can all agree to disagree!

fox did bring the show to air in the first place, and as you note (in a slightly different context) they did keep it going for a second season despite iffy ratings. Unfortunately, they owe their shareholders, not viewers - the bottom line rules.

At the end of the day, I don't think that the major networks are doing anything but knee-jerking to out-dated nielson ratings - shows like the Sopranos, the Wire, True Blood, demonstrate that the best tv (imho) is found on the pay-for-view channels - HBO take a bow!

I love Joss (he is boss etc etc), and will give anything that he makes a try (but i won't keep watching something that I don't enjoy - I'm not a zealot) in the future. Hopefully his next endevour will run for a bit longer. I'm getting sick of only seeing two - or less - seasons of all the best shows (pushing daisies, eli stone, dirty sexy money to name just a few)
Foxessa
5. Silviamg
Could not get into Dollhouse. It was a poor show and was lucky to get a second season. Rejoice in that fact fans: most shows, like Eastwick, are getting canned at first season.
Samantha Brandt
6. Talia
So the entire point of this post was to rant about how much you hated Dollhouse? Awesome.

Well, now they have more space for reality shows starring vapid, anorexic blondes and "news" programs of dubious quality. Perhaps these are more up your alley?

I really enjoyed the show, and I am upset that it was cancelled. You're certainly entitled to feel differently of course. But for pete's sake, its like you posted this specifically to be as vicious as humanly possible.

Not nice. Not pretty. And just a huge turnoff to see.

Geez.
Samantha Brandt
7. Talia
I extremely vehemently disagree with the assertation that it was a poor show, too. One of my favorites, when just about everything else on TV is crap.
Foxessa
8. Jeremy Preacher
Ah, it's nice to be condescended to first thing after lunch. Thanks.
Foxessa
9. APD1127
Yes, I agree wholeheartedly. I would also like to thank Fox for saving me personally from the show as my wife likes to watch episodes of it she's taped when I am trying to sleep at night.

What a terrible show!
Foxessa
10. Matthew Daly
I couldn't get into Dollhouse at all. I gave it three eps, was unimpressed by ED's range, and passed on the rest. I didn't go back when it "got good" because, to be honest, I didn't want to sympathize with enslaving brainwashers and the whole rape culture thing they had going on. The apologists tell me that I missed a great show, and they might be right. But Rule One for making a television show that will appear in my living room is to have at least some characters that I would want in my living room.

Given that it so quickly joined the legions of other television shows that I don't watch, I didn't much care that it got extended and don't much care that it won't get a third season. I don't think Fox made these decisions for great justice, but out of the economic reality that there was no audience. If I'm reading the news reports right, the reruns of House that they showed last Friday handily beat Dollhouse the week before. That's gotta hurt! Why should Fox pay money for the development of a show that draws fewer eyes to their commercials than a free show?!

The appeals I'm hearing is for Joss to continue Dollhouse on a cable network that would be thrilled to have a million viewers a week. A selfish part of me hopes that he doesn't so that he can focus on material that doesn't repulse me, but he'll do what seems right to him.
Foxessa
11. PixelFish
Well, I'm one of the ones that is glad Dollhouse was cancelled. Because I DO expect more from Joss Whedon. Dollhouse was SO boring I never got past Episode 1. And the problematic scenarios I kept reading about in my friendslists made me glad I wasn't wasting brain space on this show.

That said, Fox could probably axe 90% of their lineup and I would weep no tears.
Foxessa
12. goodfellow_puck
I agree that Dollhouse was seriously bad with some fatal story and character flaws. I watched maybe two episodes and got the hell out. I also agree that one should not be told "Oh, but it gets BETTER" and be forced to watch more of something they don't like. If you don't hook by the first episode then you're doing it wrong.

That being said, I didn't realize Tor.com was an opinion blog. I think Dollhouse fans would be justified in their ire over this commentary. I know I'd be if it was a show I enjoyed. Your name suggests you're used to stirring shit up, so good luck. ;)

PS. Family Guy was NEVER funny and it makes me sad that so many people think it is.
Foxessa
13. xilef
As long as NBC keeps Chuck....
K Tempest Bradford
14. ktempest
Talia, once again we find ourselves disagreeing. Dollhouse was a bad show with the occasional decent episode, and those decent episodes numbered 2, at my last count.

As for what I prefer, it's not reality shows. Don't watch them. Sarah Connor, yes. Alien Nation, yes. (it's been over a decade and I'm still pining, sigh.) Doctor Who, yes. However, my list is short. we do agree on the fact that there's not much good on these days.

@goodfellow_puck - Dollhouse fans are certainly free to be angry that I don't like their show. But seeing as how it makes me kind of angry to see people bemoaning and wailing over a show I consider bad, I see this whole discussion as falling into the realm of everybody being entitled to their opinion. Which I know you're not disputing. I'm just putting that out there.
K Tempest Bradford
15. ktempest
@goofellow_puck - I think Family Guy was funny at one time. It wasn't funny all the time, but I laughed often. The season it came back from the dead was pretty funny, and after that there was a steep decline in funniness. Now it's just boring or offensive or both at once.
Foxessa
16. Astraea
I'm so glad it's finally been cancelled. Joss Whedon is not owed a vehicle for his vanity projects.
Foxessa
17. Jeremy Preacher
Well, I'm terribly sorry to make you angry for liking a TV show, ktempest. I'll try very hard not to do it in the future.

What TV show should I like? I'd hate to be wrong again.
Samantha Brandt
18. Talia
I'm sorry if I came across a little out of sorts. Apparently I am grouchy today. :)
Mary Kay Kare
19. MaryKay
Oh, thank goodness; it isn't just me. I liked a lot of Buffy and adored Firefly, but I'm tired of him expending time and effort in creating a likable and sympathetic character just so he can kill them off and wring our hearts. Really, that man seems to me not to have much humanity in him. I vowed never to watch anything by him again after Serenity and everything I heard about Dollhouse merely confirmed that resolve.

MKK - never my Master either - was than an icky trope or what!
K Tempest Bradford
20. ktempest
Jeremy, my point was not "you're making me angry, so stop!" my point is that Dollhouse fans are free to be angry that I disliked their show just as much as I am free to be angry that they found a show I find deeply problematic worth crying over. We're all entitled to feel this way. I have just always found it "funny" that people who love a show don't seem to give people who hate a show the same leeway to be vocal about it in public.
Foxessa
21. Nick Mamatas
Don't be mad at Tempest for not liking your lame TV show. I mean, she likes plenty of crap! She watches Stargate: Atlantis!

You all have plenty in common.
Pablo Defendini
22. pablodefendini
@goodfellow_puck #12:
I didn't realize Tor.com was an opinion blog.

You must be a new reader. Welcome. We like varied opinions on this site, and Tempest's is but one of them.

@JeremyPreacher #17:
Disagree with Tempest all you want, but please do so politely.
Foxessa
23. Jeremy Preacher
I'm not angry you disliked the show. You're free to dislike it - there are lots of reasons to do so, and I probably agree with a lot of them.

The problem is that you seem to feel that I should not like it, nor to be sad that it's going away. The fact that you feel it's appropriate to use this venue to admonish fans of the show for being upset at its cancellation is something I find not only inappropriate but insulting.
K Tempest Bradford
24. ktempest
@Nick Mamatas: hey now, I do NOT like Stargate: Atlantis. I am on record as saying so: See?.

I will admit to liking SG-1 for a time.

@Jeremy: well, I do feel that you should not like the show. But so? I'm sure you feel I should like it because you do. This is the way of things.
Foxessa
25. ninamazing
Sad but true. And v. well-written. :)
Foxessa
26. Jeremy Preacher
There you are completely wrong. Why on Earth would I have the slightest stake in whether you like a piece of media? I mean, maybe if I created it...

The show had a lot of problems. The first six episodes were only bearable if you have the sort of residual Faith fetish that I do, or you are my long-suffering Friday night TV-mates. The character development was also incredibly slow - ultimately, I think, worthwhile, but I totally see why someone might disagree. The technology and the implications are fascinating, as is the parallel between the Dollhouse and Hollywood, but that sort of worldbuilding wankery isn't for everyone. Frankly, my overall take on the show is that I'd really rather see the post-apocalyptic adventure series implies by ep 13.

But you know, I like it. I look forward to the new episodes, and I'll miss them when they're gone. I understand the business case behind the cancellation, but I'm still sad. Why is that any of your business?
K Tempest Bradford
27. ktempest
@Jeremy, it's not my business, except you're making it my business by telling me. If you don't want other, unknown or unrelated to you people to like and watch a show you like, then why get upset when they don't? I have not targeted you or any other person specifically for not liking the show. I am just expressing my opinion that it was a bad show and I'm glad it's gone even though other people aren't.

All around the Internet people are crying out, "Dollhouse is gone, noooooo!" And that's fine with you. You're not getting on their cases for expressing their opinion strongly because you agree with them. But doesn't the contingent of people saying, "Dollhouse is gone, yaaaaaaay!" have just as much right to say so, in public, on whatever forum they have to say so?

If this post had been full of, "Curse you, FOX! How could you cancel a show I love? Fie on all those who didn't watch," you would not have cared, even though that's no more or less worse than what I said. You're just angry that I disagree with you.

That's fine and all, but don't act as if I've done something JUST HORRIBLE.
K Tempest Bradford
28. ktempest
Also, Jeremy, you might want to consider that you're taking this all really personally when it's not. Personal, that is.
Avram Grumer
29. avram
Tempest, I think you're forgetting one important thing: Fox only cancels good shows. Bad shows, or shows that have gone bad and gone into that undead zone where people just watch because of habit (like The Simpsons) are allowed to continue forever. So Fox's cancellation of Dollhouse is an endorsement. They come to bury the show and to praise it.
Sean Arthur
30. wsean
Is this really necessary?

You acknowledge near the beginning of your post that Fox will just replace it with something worse, so what's the point--why do you even care? And why make this post, if not simply to rub it in the fans' faces? "Haha, this show you liked got cancelled, and it sucked too!"

You haven't done something "HORRIBLE," only thoughtless and a bit condescending. This is what I'd expect from a forum thread, not a Tor.com post.

Not a fan of the show either, incidentally. But I'm not feeling the need to shout it from the rooftops--why bother?
Foxessa
31. Nick Mamatas
Tempet, your ability to even tell the difference between Stargate shows makes you history's greatest monster!
Foxessa
32. jere7my
Ktempest, the situations aren't really parallel. Crowing over someone else's misfortune is bound to generate more resentment than crying over losing something you care about. Gloating is rarely appealing. Winners are expected to be gracious; losers are cut more slack. This holds true whether we agree with the winners or not (though it is, of course, easier to forgive sore winners we agree with, and easier to sympathize with sore losers we agree with).

That said, I don't think you've done anything horrible — just something people tend to be societally biased against.
Eli Bishop
33. EliBishop
Nick: You are generally correct, but just don't start talking smack about Stargate Omaha or Stargate: Special Victims Unit. Those are the good ones, as you know.
Foxessa
34. Jeremy Preacher
If the show had gotten a 9-ep order and you'd posted about how disappointed you were in that, I would have been baffled (unless, of course, you were contractually obligated to watch it, which I'm sure reviewers and the like are.) I am likewise baffled that you're celebrating that it's canceled (with the same caveat,) because really, what does it matter to you?

I think it's generally tacky to celebrate other people's disappointments outside of the context of competition, and I am reacting to that tone in your piece. "Woo this show I don't like is canceled!" is just unpleasant. I mean, I'm glad you're happy, but it's coming across as gloating over some sort of victory, and I wasn't aware we were on opposite sides.
K Tempest Bradford
35. ktempest
@avram I dunno, Fox has canceled some bad shows, too. But you're right in that they tend to let bad shows linger on and on while good shows aren't given such lingering luxury.

@jere7my, am I a "winner" in this situation? I guess I don't see it that way. After all, I get nothing from a show being on the air or off except fleeting happiness. I can, of course, hope that something better will take Dollhouse's place, though with Fox it's a small hope. I guess I don't see this issue in those terms, therefore I find the "gloating winner" allegory un-apt.

Nick, Eli is correct, you leave off of Stargate: SVU!!
K Tempest Bradford
36. ktempest
@Jeremy, it benefits all humankind when really bad television is taken off the air.

I did review Dollhouse for a while and I'm writing an essay on it now.
Foxessa
37. Jeremy Preacher
I think "I don't see this as insulting, therefore you shouldn't feel insulted" is not the most helpful response. Also "You're wrong, and my opinion is the important one" which is what you're "really bad television" crack sounds like.

I'm obviously not making any headway here. I look forward to your actual review, where perhaps we could discuss substantive issues.
James Goetsch
39. Jedikalos
Marykay really said it for me: "I'm tired of him expending time and effort in creating a likable and sympathetic character just so he can kill them off and wring our hearts." I mean, why kill off Shepherd Book in that movie, darnit? And then Wash? I gave up on the bastard at just that point. I would have gone and seen the movie 100 times to support seeing more of all those characters,that ensemble,but the way he kills folks . . .

I also agree with some like Jeremy who have said the mocking tone of this piece is a little much, in the sense of kicking the poor dollhouse fans when they are down. Why rub it in like that, even if you do find it funny? There's a lot of things I don't enjoy and sometimes find it hilarious that people mourn when its gone, but I keep those private and somewhat unpleasant thoughts to myself, and sometimes even feel embarrassed at my human, all too human attack of schadenfreude.
Foxessa
40. jere7my
Ktempest, I think that if this is the outcome you hoped for, and others hoped for the opposite, you're a winner by definition. The stakes don't have to be significant for there to be a winner. (You did do a Happy Snoopy Dance, after all.)
K Tempest Bradford
41. ktempest
So, if I express an unqualified opinion: "Dollhouse is really bad television," that is not okay, ever? Unless the unqualified opinion is in line with yours. That's the message I'm getting here.

Also, I never meant to imply I was saying "I don't see this as insulting, therefore you shouldn't feel insulted."
Foxessa
42. Alfvaen
The first Joss Whedon show I tried to watch was "Firefly". I'd heard good things about this guy, and I try to support SF on TV, but I only lasted halfway through the second episode and then gave up. Years later, I was finally convinced by someone to give it a try when they lent me their DVDs of the series. I watched it again (this time starting with the pilot instead of the stupid train robbery), and this time I liked it. This was also after I had watched most of "Buffy" and loved that a whole lot.

I've also watched the first two seasons of "Angel"...and am taking a break from it before going on to S3, because it didn't wow me nearly as much.

I gave up on Star Trek: DS9, Stargate: SG-1, V (the new version), Eastwick, Star Trek: Enterprise, Smallville, and a number of other shows, after only one or two episodes.

"Dollhouse"...is kind of at the level of "Angel", for me. I'm happy enough for it to continue, or not. I'm not heartbroken that it's gone, and I wasn't outraged when it was renewed. Though I probably would have picked "Sarah Connor" had I been in charge. (My wife is a little more pro-"Dollhouse", I think. I'm happy to watch it with her.)

Maybe by this point I'm just wise enough to know that shows get cancelled, despite people liking them. I survived "Twin Peaks" (probably my first such experience, and hence most painful), I survived "Pushing Daisies", I survived "Sarah Connor". I'll survive "Dollhouse".

And I have to say that all of the series where there was outcry about the cancellation, "Dollhouse" is the one where I've seen the most approval of and relief at the cancellation. I don't see it myself--I'm not bothered by acting quality or unsympathetic characters or whatever other flaws others perceive--but apparently it rubbed people the wrong way. Would it have if it weren't Joss Whedon doing it?
Foxessa
43. Alfvaen
Saying that something like a TV show, or a song, or a book, or a movie, is "bad" is an implicit putdown of anyone who likes it. It's not as bad as saying that "it sucks", but yes, it is insulting. You can say "I don't like it", you can say "5,000,000 people signed this position to say that they don't like it either", but can you say "bad" about any artistic endeavour? Saying "it's bad" is like saying "you're wrong" to anyone who would say "it's good".

I liked _God Emperor of Dune_, _I Will Fear No Evil_, "Joe Vs. The Volcano", and "Hudson Hawk". I've heard all of those called "bad"; I don't agree. "De gustibus non est disputandum"--it's not worth arguing about tastes. Neither side will be at all likely to convince the other. (With some exceptions, like my "Firefly" story above.)
James Goetsch
44. Jedikalos
Alfvaen, you make a good point. If someone says "I don't like this, and here is why . . . " that is fine. But claiming it is simply bad takes it to another level (and one could then argue about whether or not it is really "bad", or try to define what you mean by that . . . but if all "bad" means is that "I don't like it" then there is nothing at all to disagree about. "I like pepsi." "No you are wrong--because I like coke!").
K Tempest Bradford
45. ktempest
@Alfvaen, I think Dollhouse is bad television, and I think people who think it's good television are wrong. I guess I just don't see why it's so bad to say that. Especially since I am not barring anyone from disagreeing. I disagree with you about Joe vs. The Volcano, after all. But that doesn't mean I think you're a troglodyte or anything.

@Jedikalos, I thought I did a pretty good job of explaining why I think the show is bad in the original post. Paragraph 5 in particular. Did I not make it clear enough?
Foxessa
46. tchernabyelo
Well, I don't dislike Dollhouse nearly as much as Tempest, but the cancellation does not suprise me. Indeed, that Fox GAVE it a second series after poor ratings surprised me.

Those who are complaining about the cancellation should remember that no network - Fox nor any other - owes its viewers anything other than popular shows. And popular, in TV terms, means BIG VIEWING FIGURES. If you can't make enough people watch the show, the show will not continue. Doesn't matter how much YOU like it, or your friends like it. Quantity of viewers, not quality, is what counts in World of TV.

No network owes you your own personal line-up. Suck it up and get on with life. Or, y'know, write tons of fanfic. Whatever :)
James Goetsch
47. Jedikalos
ktempest, I think the tone of your post undercut your reasoning: by the time I got to paragraph 5, all I could tell was that you really rejoiced in the show being canceled,and mocking those who were sad at the end of what to you is bad television. In a recent review of Lord of Light on this site, someone basically said I don't like it and here is why--but I didn't feel like I was being mocked as a fool for loving it like I do. But if I misread you, I apologize.
Jeremy Preacher
48. Jeremy Preacher
ktempest, you are in a position of power here that inherently bars people from disagreeing on the same level. I can blather in the comments all I want - I don't get a headline.
K Tempest Bradford
49. ktempest
@jpreacher, you don't get a headline, but people who read y post and comments are free to judge whether they like your opinion better than mine. I get your point, but I think you give too much power to the one writing the post. It's not like this is the NYTimes or something where your opinion is relegated to the Letters To The Editor page that no one reads or cares about. This is a blog! A fancy blog, but still a blog. And the discussion is part of the overall package.

If someone else who writes for Tor.com violently disagrees and wants to write a love letter to Dollhouse, I'm sure they'll post it just as readily.
Foxessa
50. tchernabyelo
I didn't read the mockery of its fans, though inevitably in any statement of "X is bad and here's why" there's an inevitable, if unspoken, corrollary that "those who think it's good are clearly wrong".

I do think the defensiveness on show here by those who did like it does border on the "how dare you say something bad about something I liked!" - it's interesting that hardly anyone has come up with a single cogent description of what was actually GOOD about Dollhouse, of why it might have been worth saving. I was hoping to read such a defence, but all I am seeing is "wah! make the nasty woman go away!".

I think some of the ideas in Dollhouse were interesting and certainly the direction it was beginning to go was interesting (as tipped by the unshown episode), but it was meandering around fairly aimlessly in trying to get there. Most of the ostensible uses of the Dollhouse just weren't plausible - as has been noted, why not legally (or otherwise) just hire a real expert, not a made-up one. The slow build of Echo as a compsite, and the background affection between Victor and Sierra that allowed for all sorts of questions about what a person really is; these were fine. But many of the individual episodes were all filler, no killer. And that's no way to run a railroad, no matter what your reputation is.


Oh, and the complaints about Whedon killing people off after making you care for them? Tough it out; life does that. It's precisely BECAUSE he made you care that you're complaining about the deaths of UTTERLY IMAGINARY PEOPLE. It makes him a good storyteller (or a good writer of deft dialogue, at the very least). It doesn't make him some kind of sinister monster.
James Goetsch
51. Jedikalos
Jeez, tcherno, I did not say he was sinister for killing them off, just that it made me not want to watch his stuff anymore--that I don't like that so much. I'm glad Merry and Pippin didn't bite the dust at the gates of Mordor, for example, but I'm pretty sure Whedon would have loved to do them in:). And surely we all know these are imaginary folks, but we still love them and find them important in various ways in our lives (at least I assume folks who come to a site like this find fiction to be a part of their lives that matter :)
Jeremy Preacher
52. Jeremy Preacher
This isn't a debate. I'm not trying to score points. I'm trying to communicate that your piece of writing made me feel picked-on and disrespected, and I am frustrated that I seem to be failing.

tchernabyelo, that corrolary was not unspoken, it was stated, emphasized, and reiterated in the comments.
ennead ennead
53. ennead
Yes, that's exactly why I read tor.com: to be ridiculed because I like a science-fiction show.

Thanks Tempest.
Foxessa
54. tchernabyelo
Jedikalos - read MaryKay (#19), as that was the comment I was referring to about the killing off of beloved characters, not you. "He made someone I like, but then he killed them! How dare he!" didn't seem to be a terribly balanced view of a creator. It's possible to interpret the remark as "I won't watch his stuff ever again because he made me care so much that I am not emotionally ready to invest so much in a character who might die", but even then... happens in real life. Grow up and deal with it. I've cried when characters have died in books - hell, I cried when an alien mind parasite died at the end of Brian Stableford's "Hooded Swan" series (oops! spoiler!) - but it didn't make me go "what a nasty author I shall never read his books again!". We all need to learn to deal with the bad stuff as well as the good stuff; fction can help with both.

jbpreacher - this IS a debate, what else is it! If comments were closed, it would not be a debate, but comments are open, and Tempest is responding. Debate in my book. Now, how about stopping with the "you said bad things and made me cry!" approach and try the "Tempest, I believe you to be wrong and here are the reasons why". In general, that tends to work better at putting your point across.

It's noticeable how few people are doing that. If you like Dollhouse, if you really believe that Tempest is wrong, state WHY. Don't just whine about how mean she's being - it comes across as childish.
K Tempest Bradford
55. ktempest
@53 you're welcome! Anytime. :D

@jpreacher, I didn't think you were trying to score points. Also, it doesn't please me you feel picked on or disrespected.
Jeremy Preacher
56. Jeremy Preacher
tchernabyelo, my only objection to this piece is the tone and perhaps the appropriateness of it appearing in this particular venue. There's nothing at all wrong with ktemptest's position.

It may be relevant that managing online discourse is, in fact, my full-time job, so tone and audience appropriateness are very much what I'm inclined to discuss.

@55 ktemptest, your response to @53 entirely invalidates your response to me.
K Tempest Bradford
57. ktempest
@jpreacher, if we're going to get into tone, then I would point out that my response to 53 was more of a response to their tone, as my response to you was also a response to your tone. If you're unhappy, then I'll revoke my response to you and reissue it thusly:

What I said made you feel bad. You've got several choices here, let's figure out which one will lead to valuable discourse. It isn't just saying, "You hurt my feelings," as that does nothing but lead to a discussion of your hurt feelings. Instead, as others have suggested, you could try saying, "You're wrong about the show, and here's why," which would then lead to us discussing the various merits or lack of merits of said show. Or you could just ignore the post and go about your day.
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58. heresiarch
tchernabyelo @ 54" "If comments were closed, it would not be a debate, but comments are open, and Tempest is responding. Debate in my book. Now, how about stopping with the "you said bad things and made me cry!" approach and try the "Tempest, I believe you to be wrong and here are the reasons why". In general, that tends to work better at putting your point across."

In other words, debate about the things I want to you debate about! Thanks but no--tone and delivery DO matter, and ARE reasonable topics to address. We're not constrained to address only the topic of whether or not Dollhouse was actually rly trly good.
Jeremy Preacher
59. Jeremy Preacher
Apparently, heresiarch, we are. I'm going to take ktempest's cogent advice and go about my day.
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60. heresiarch
ktempest @ 57: "Instead, as others have suggested, you could try saying, "You're wrong about the show, and here's why," which would then lead to us discussing the various merits or lack of merits of said show."

1) Because explaining what you like about things you like is SUCH a joy, when the person you're discussing it with has already put themselves into the role of Moderator of Good Taste. It really invites people to open up and put themselves in a position of vulnerability.

2) Quit trying to dodge the issue: whether DH was good or not is a totally different question than whether you were being pointlessly harsh in your post. You could be proving the Pythagorean Theorem and still be a jerk about it.
Jason Englert
61. je5450
I don't get why someone would be happy that a show that others enjoyed is getting cancelled. It costs you absolutely nothing to not watch a show; it's not like the show's continued existence would have hurt you in any way. Why take joy in the fact that people who clearly enjoyed the program won't get to enjoy it any more? I'd much rather read a post about why you didn't like Dollhouse instead of one celebrating its cancellation. I didn't like the show either, but it really bugs me when people take the position that, because they don't like something, no body else should be allowed to. By celebrating this show's cancellation, you celebrate that certain people no longer have something they enjoyed. That sucks.
Foxessa
62. Doug M.
Tone and delivery do matter, but Tempest's were just not offensive. They were, at worst, slightly snarky but still well within the bounds of polite discourse.

As several posters have pointed out by now, saying "I found your post condescending and /it hurt my feelings/" is not gaining a lot of traction. While I don't agree that pointing out why Tempest is wrong is your only alternative, I do agree that it's about the best alternative. If you thought the show was all that, say why, tell how.


Doug M.
Foxessa
63. Doug M.
1) It's okay to celebrate the end of things that sucked.

1) (a), logical corollary: If _Dollhouse_ sucked, it's good that it's gone, and it's okay to celebrate this.

2) The fact that many people like a thing is orthogonal to whether that thing sucks or not. (Although, in the end, not that many people liked Dollhouse; if they had, it would still be with us.)



Doug M.
K Tempest Bradford
64. ktempest
@je5450, I'm happy because I not only didn't like the show -- which is not such a big deal. many shows are unliked me me or others -- but I also felt the way it handled its premise was problematic to the point of actually being detrimental, or possibly detrimental.
K Tempest Bradford
65. ktempest
@Doug M, I think tone may be in the eye of the beholder in this case. People who liked Dollhouse felt my tone way harsh, while those who didn't or, at least, don't care about the show either way, don't see it as harsh.
Foxessa
66. Doug M.
"I don't get why someone would be happy that a show that others enjoyed is getting cancelled."

There's no show so crappy that someone, somewhere, doesn't love it. But every show is taking up resources -- time, money, energy, and a slot at 8:00 on a Friday night -- that could be better used on a show that sucks less, or even one that does not suck at all.

To give a very specific example, there's reason to believe Fox cancelled the Sarah Connor Chronicles in part because they had two SF shows with weak-ish ratings, and could only keep one. The existence of Dollhouse is certainly not /the/ reason SCC got cancelled, but it seems to have been a contributing factor. So, if you liked SCC, then you have some reason to be annoyed at Dollhouse's continued existence right there. The fact that it just staggered along for one more season and /then/ died is just salt in the wound.

To give another specific example, Josh Whedon's time is a very limited resource. He spent two years working on Dollhouse that he could have spent doing something else. If I liked Firefly and really enjoyed Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, then I'm entitled to be annoyed that he wasted two precious years on a not-so-great show instead of doing something better. And then I'm entitled to be happy that it's cancelled because, yay! maybe now he'll write something I'd like to watch.


Doug M.
James Goetsch
67. Jedikalos
Ah, Doug M., you have made me think this is an endless tangle. You categorically state Tempest's tone and delivery were not offensive, and that if I think they were I must be thin-skinned somehow; while I am thinking it was offensive, and you must be obtuse if you can't detect it. Oh well: peace to all. Peace out.
Foxessa
68. Nick Mamatas
I hope the traumatized commenters never find themselves looking at an editorial cartoon in a newspaper, or driving a car in New Jersey, or voting for a minority position on some ballot question, or talking to a three-year-old about how much ice cream one should be able to eat in a week, or picking out three dishes out of a hot buffet line, as they might just start weeping.
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69. heresiarch
Doug M @ 63:

3) It's not okay to kick people while they're down.

3)(a) The fact that something (in your opinion) objectively sucked doesn't make saying so to people who are already hurt by losing it any less an act of kicking someone while they're down.

It's a matter of simple courtesy: when someone's best friend dies, you don't say, "Well, it's for the best--he was a real DOUCHE," even if it's one-hundred percent true. Show some respect for the recently departed, or at least show some respect for the recently departed's grieving friends.

ktempest @ 64: "I'm happy because I not only didn't like the show -- which is not such a big deal. many shows are unliked me me or others -- but I also felt the way it handled its premise was problematic to the point of actually being detrimental, or possibly detrimental."

Then a good strategy might be to, you know, point out what you think is so detrimental, rather than slag the main actor for sucking. Just a thought!
Foxessa
70. tchernabyelo
@heresiarch 58 - I think you are reading what you think I said, not what I actually said. But if people on here just want to whine about how Tempest is being mean they are perfectly entitled to do that and I am not going to stop them (how could I?). I was just trying to helpfully suggest ways of actually putting a positive point across rather than constant, wearying reiterations of "Tempest is nasty and I don't like that she said mean things!". Again, with respect; get over it. People have contrary opinions in this world, and they don't always frame them in the way you'd like (as, clearly, I did not in suggesting alternative approaches to debate).

I'd actually come across to this colmn, having been linked from elsewhere, hoping that it might spark some interesting discussion on ollhouse itself - which, as noted, I found interesting but flawed. However, no-one seems remotely interested in doing that, which I find a little surprisng and rather a shame.

People seem to forget that boards like this allow you to debate things openly, not have a slanging match one-to-one with the original starter of the topic. You clearly aren't going to persuade Tempest of the goodness of Dollhouse - but you might persuade other people. At the very least, you might get people who haven't watched it to take a look through DVD or whatever. But no; all the responses are focussed on tone, and compared to many internet kerfuffles I've seen, the tone of this one is positively chummy.

By all means debate what you wish, but be aware of how it might come across to others who came here with a more neutral view. At least I understand why Tempest disliked the show. I have no idea why those who feel they have been personally insulted liked it.
K Tempest Bradford
71. ktempest
@69 heresiarch, I consider the actor sucking to be a serious detriment to a television show. Don't you? I mean, you may disagree with me about whether Dushku sucks, but you don't think it's a problem for a show if the lead is not very good?

Also, I mentioned other detriments in the post. Maybe you didn't get past the first one because you didn't like that I said it.
Iain Coleman
72. Iain_Coleman
I watched the first season of Dollhouse after hearing all sorts of criticism of it, and expecting it to be quite bad.

To my great surprise, it turned out to be an excellent drama, probably the best thing Joss Whedon has done.

Much of the online criticism seems to come from people who have been watching an entirely different show to the one I watched, and who have not in general impressed me with their grasp of drama.

It is a show whose premise is developed with great metaphorical richness. The most obvious reading is a (fairly Marxist) account of social structures, the place of individuals within them, and the different reasons that people have for buying in to a society that is morally unjustifiable and fatally flawed. Another aspect of it is the way that the show displays the essence of drama - a person takes on what we know to be an artificially created role, and yet we follow their adventures, empathising with their journey as though it were real. In this reading, it is interesting that the author character, Topher, who appears like a younger, slimmer Joss Whedon, is such a colossal twat.

I haven't yet seen season two, but I am looking forward to it.

As for the original post, I am reminded of what Russell T Davies wrote in his excellent book The Writer's Tale:

"I read that stuff and it doesn’t stop me, not ever. I’ve got quite high-flown and fancy beliefs about art that maybe put it all into perspective. Principally: it is not a democracy. Creating something is not a democracy. The people have no say. The artist does. It doesn’t matter what the people witter on about; they and their response come after. They’re not there for the creation.

This is becoming one of the great arguments of the day, for populist writers especially. It taps into the whole debate across journalism about the democratisation of the critic. It was summed up best by Rachel Cooke in The Observer recently, where she said that the online voice writes with a deep sense of exclusion. She wrote about that with some anger, but also with a lot of sadness. I don’t see the sadness myself. I think its right they’re excluded. Of course, it’s always been that way, people have always carped on, but the internet means that we can all read it now. We’re taught from childhood that the printed word has authority.

If something is typed, it seems official. (History will look back on this as the maddest time - a period of ten years or so where we all typed at each other!) So it can mess up writers when they read that endlessly critical voice. It’s completely, completely destructive. I cannot see one iota of it that’s helpful, except maybe in the toughening up."
Foxessa
73. Harry Connolly
It's a matter of simple courtesy: when someone's best friend dies...

Whoa, Whoa! Hold on!

Was this show your best friend?!?!

Even comparing the cancellation of a TV show to the loss of a friend--not even a "best" friend, how about a friendly acquaintance--is crazy-headed foolery. Seriously, I know how it feels when a favorite piece of entertainment ends, but you don't grieve for it the way you grieve for a best friend, and you sure as hell don't deserve the tenderness and respect that people who've lost loved ones get.

All TV shows end. All of them. Even GUIDING LIGHT ended. It's certainly appropriate to feel sad that those characters are finished, but let's leave the dead best friends in the "ridiculous hyperbole" bin.

And Sarah Conner Chronicles was boring and cheap-looking. I prefer shows where the actors get to show an emotion. Maybe even two emotions.
Jason Englert
74. je5450
@ktempest - 64, No real disagreements on the relative merit of Dollhouse from me, I only watched a single episode. What I don't get is why something you don't care about ending is cause for joy. It's not like you've been relieved of the burden of having to watch the show - you never had to watch it in the first place (unless you did as part of the tor blogger gig, in which case, never mind). In what way is your life better by a show you didn't watch in the first place not being around any longer? I guess you could make the "Joss's time is a scarce resource and maybe he'll make something I like now" argument as others have, but it's not like you like his most recent work anyway. It just seems like you're really excited that there's one less bad show on television, and everybody who liked it should stop their whining because they were wrong to like it. I don't know, maybe I'm misreading the tone of the article, but that's the way it came off to me. I feel like this is getting way off topic though, so I'll shut up now.
K Tempest Bradford
75. ktempest
@Ian_Coleman, I usually end up feeling like the people who find metaphorical richness in Dollhouse put it there instead of it being inherent or intentional. That's completely my reading, of course, and others have and will disagree. Still, I've yet to be convinced of intentions.

From the point of view of a fiction creator (I'm one of those as well), I know that my intentions are not the only things that matter when someone reads or experiences my work. If people find things in my fiction I did not intend to put there or think I was putting there, that doesn't mean they aren't there, or aren't there for those people. Usually it only becomes an issue when people, say, read nasty intentions into my writing. Say if they thought I was being really racist or something.

I do feel people give Joss more credit than he deserves for intention and depth. Just because you think you see something awesome may not mean that's what's actually going on. But for the viewer, it may not matter. You're happy, you saw what you saw. I don't see the same things, therefore I'm less happy.

I also agree that artists gotta do what they gotta do, despite what others may say about their art. There is a fine line between "I'm not going to let all these negative voices stop me from being true to the thing I want to create" and "Those fools don't understand my great art and I shut out all criticism, nyah nyah!" RTD I think dances across that line a lot. Joss, too. If one can't take any criticism, or can't stand to hear any negative voices, one should stop creating art that's meant to be consumed by others.
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76. heresiarch
"I'd actually come across to this colmn, having been linked from elsewhere, hoping that it might spark some interesting discussion on ollhouse itself - which, as noted, I found interesting but flawed. However, no-one seems remotely interested in doing that, which I find a little surprisng and rather a shame."

"Interesting but flawed" being a much better launching point for debate about the worth of a show than "GAWD why wasn't it canceled already?" See, the former encourages people to detail specifics, discuss nuance, etc. while the latter just polarizes. Having a discussion requires mutual respect, which is rather absent at present.

"but be aware of how it might come across to others who came here with a more neutral view."

A more neutral view than what? I haven't said whether or not I personally like DH. You're just assuming I'm a DH partisan because I'm talking about tone, as though the only reason to discuss tone is as a front for hurt feewings. It's not, though: tone matters to me because I couldn't care less for "it rocks!" "it sucks!" back and forth. Both those positions get in the way of finer analysis, and that's what I'd like to do.
K Tempest Bradford
77. ktempest
@je5450, like I said, I think the show was or could be actively detrimental. That's why I'm happy it's going away. And I did have to watch the first season for a gig.

Where did I say everyone had to stop their whining?
Brian Roloff
79. Ronin-alTyr
Wow, I had no idea Dollhouse was capable of creating such hoo-ha! I did give it a chance, even though I was predisposed to dislike it due to ED. This is mostly because friend of mine worked on Tru Calling and did not have a positive experience with her. That combined with her lack of talent made it an easy choice to drop after a few episodes. By the by, why shouldn’t slagging the main actor for sucking be perfectly valid? To be honest I didn’t even know it was still on the air. As to whether or not something can be called “bad”… Well if you are someone who says art cannot be bad, I’m guessing you not an artist who has been criticized, as Critics do it all the time. That or you have never seen Battlefield Earth.
Foxessa
80. Ide Cyan
Tempest, I wholeheartedly agree with your post. FOX made the right decision in cancelling Dollhouse, and I wish to join you in reassuring them, this time, that their choice was correct, and that they should not be swayed by protests against it, but instead focus on making better television.
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81. heresiarch
"Also, I mentioned other detriments in the post. Maybe you didn't get past the first one because you didn't like that I said it."

Or perhaps I singled out that one because it's a particularly subjective and vague criticism. Really, when has anyone ever had a pointful debate over acting skills? Like all the detriments you bring up, it's too abstract to convince or enlighten anyone. It's like describing ice cream as "good." But go ahead, pretend it's because I just can't stand you callin' 'em like you see 'em.

You have substantive critiques of DH? Sign me the hell up! I'm looking forward to your next DH post. I'd love to get in there and see what makes the show (not) tick. But don't pretend that's what you're doing here.
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82. heresiarch
"All TV shows end. All of them. Even GUIDING LIGHT ended."

Unlike people! They exist forever.

Wow, you sure took that analogy really, um, literally. What's next? "Whoa! Hold on! ktempest is ACTUALLY kicking you while you're down!?!?"

"Whoa! Hold on! Paul Simon is REALLY an island?!?!"
Foxessa
83. Harry Connolly
Literally? Nope. I just found it ridiculous (and a little sad) to see the cancellation of TV show compared to the death of a best friend.

Maybe next you'll compare people saying mean things on the internet to the bombing of Dresden or something.
Foxessa
84. Avanon
Let's all acknowledge the elephant in this room. Many women (and some men) find Dollhouse to be sexist. This is why they are so happy that it's going away. In spite of their protestations to the contrary, the fact is that these people don't usually do the Happy Snoopy Dance in triumph when 'bad' TV shows are cancelled. They are so happy in this case because, perhaps subconsciously or perhaps consciously, they score this as a victory over a certain kind of sexism.
I've never seen the show, but I've heard lots of discussion about it and I know that many women were uncomfortable with the show before it even aired and were thus predisposed towards disliking it.
I'll introduce one piece of evidence from the very first commenter on this thread: "I'd certainly like to think that if someone came up with the technology to erase trauma and fill people's brains with knowledge as easily as pouring coffee into a cup, they would use it for more than putting women in leather miniskirts and making them hookers."
I'm not taking sides in the argument over whether the show was or was not sexist, and as I said I've never actually seen it, but I think we need to understand why this debate arouses such an emotional undertone.
Foxessa
85. tchernabyelo
heresiarch - my apologies. I had indeed assumed you were joining the debate from the perspective of a fan of the show.

However, you then state "tone matters to me because I couldn't care less for "it rocks!" "it sucks!" back and forth. Both those positions get in the way of finer analysis, and that's what I'd like to do." - and yet all your contributions ahve been about Tempest saying "it sucks!". If that isn't the debate you want to have, why are you, indeed, not trying for the finer analysis? We do a last have something on that subject, 70-odd posts in. I didn't get half of what Ian Coleman did from the show - the metafiction aspect was certainly there and capable of sparking some interesting directions, but that was more left (for obvious reasons) as an exercise for the interested watcher, but I certainly didn't see a Marxist dialectic in there. Issues of exploitation were also raised for the viewer but rather glossed over internally - frankly, the lack of angst in Boyd, generally seen as the moral centre of the show, concerned me. Everyone in the Dollhouse was up in arms over the rapes of Sierra and yet nobody batted an eyelid about the dolls constantly being used as sexual playthings once programmed. That rang utterly false to me. Was it only that Sierra's rapist didn't pay for the privelege? There were unpleasant subtexts lurking around that which I did not feel were remotely adequately addressed. In general, I thought the show RAISED a great many issues which can and arguably should be profitably discussed; bu I didn't feel it had the courage to CONFRONT those issues internally, only to allow its audience to do so. It can be suggeste dthat in some way, by not presenting an agenda or a bias, the show is being fairer for it; but not presenting an agenda is like not making a decision. The default position continues.
Foxessa
86. F Craye
Another post that proves why I love you, Tempest! XD You are my heroine today. This whole post is made of gold.
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87. heresiarch
Avanon @ 84: "Let's all acknowledge the elephant in this room. Many women (and some men) find Dollhouse to be sexist."

That's a very good point--a lot of people think the show is very feminist, and other people think it's really misogynistic, and that dissonance is bound to enflame things.

Personally I thought it was a feminist show, though it often worked by reflecting problematic tropes in a way that emphasized their problems. This can be seen as endorsing the tropes, but I think that's a misreading. For example, Agent Ballard with his quest to rescue Caroline: how much of it is selfless nobility? How much is it about her at all, and how much is it just his own messed-up psychosexual drama that he's projecting onto a conveniently blank Caroline? The knight in shining armor is a common archetype, but in DH the problematic assumptions are being brought to the fore.

tchernabyelo @ 85: "yet all your contributions ahve been about Tempest saying "it sucks!". If that isn't the debate you want to have, why are you, indeed, not trying for the finer analysis?"

Because, like I've said a few times already, you can't have a discussion about a show with someone who's doing the Happy Snoopy Dance at the news of its demise. To have a debate, the two sides have to at least agree to pretend that it's an open question: if one person starts with "It sucks, and you are wrong to like it," then where do you go from there? "Nuh-uh!"?

Unless you can articulate why you like or don't like something, then quality is a worthless topic for debate. Good, bad--nothing useful can be said about either. Now:

"In general, I thought the show RAISED a great many issues which can and arguably should be profitably discussed; bu I didn't feel it had the courage to CONFRONT those issues internally, only to allow its audience to do so."

Something useful can be said about that!
It's specific enough that people can agree or disagree on some basis more reflective than gut feeling. FWIW, I agree with your criticism with these caveats: 1)I think the intention was to force audiences to confront things on their own without providing easy answers (which can get preachy), and 2) The last episode, which finally addressed Topher's sociopathy, hints that they might have been planning to address things more directly later on. Now we'll never know, of course.
Nicholas DAutremont
88. nickd29
Seems like FOX will take another step towards the inevitable and be the channel filled with the drivel of "reality" TV. Soon all we will have is dancing, bad singers, fake survival and CSI... maybe then this medium will finally die.
Michael Curry
89. mcurry
Well said, Tempest, as always, and I agree with most of your points. I wish the comments had ended up being more about the merits and failures of the show, but apparently there was more interest in discussing why you didn't put more effort into not hurting delicate feelings.
Foxessa
90. Mike Kabongo
Come on, if it weren't for bad TV the commercials would have nothing to interrupt.
Stephanie Leary
91. sleary
Tempest, I agree! I'm delighted that Whedon and a number of actors I really like are all free now to do something better. I wish Fox joy of their development deal with Eliza Dushku, if it's still in effect after this mess.

Avanon @ 84 is entirely correct: Dollhouse is often difficult to watch. I realize the show is all about how awful things like rape and human trafficking are, but that doesn't make it any easier to watch a whole lot of characters condoning rape and human trafficking every week. I did think the most recent episode was fantastic -- until the status quo was restored for the doll in question. (And why on earth would she...?)

Echo has remained a blank slate far too long (and it doesn't help that Dushku is just not a good actress). Ballard and the Dollhouse crew are all morally compromised; are we really supposed to sympathize with any of them? Victor and Sierra are delightful in almost every guise, but alas, they're not the main characters. On top of all that, the tone is really grim -- the writing mostly lacks the humor and zing I expect from Whedon. I think the show could have overcome any one of those problems, but not all of them together, never mind the awful time slot.
Foxessa
92. laylia
Wow, I started reading this post and its comments, as I was interested in people's opinions but walked into a internest slap-fest.

While I'm a Joss Whedon fan, I've never seen Dollhouse or Firefly, and have never sought them out on DVD as with other shows I've been interested in (I'm now in love with How I Met Your Mother and Samantha Who), but if I might say with a bit of impartiality (its cancellation doesn't bother me that much, as I've never seen the show).

It's fine if you rejoice in its cancellation, as I do believe you've given reasons why, but critisizing the viewers who loved it for mourning its demise was off-putting to me. It perhaps would have been best to tone down that part-I felt like you were kicking puppies or something.
Foxessa
93. Ossip
Great post, Tempest!

And what a whiny bunch of commenters.
Ian Gazzotti
94. Atrus
I read this article as a parody of the comments section on io9, and thought it very funny. Then I realized the writer was serious. Darn.
K Tempest Bradford
95. ktempest
@laylia, I don't feel I criticized people for mourning Dollhouse, I just disagreed with them.

@Atrus, what's going on in the comments section of io9?
Foxessa
97. SJP
Well said. There are evidently a number of people who think Dollhouse was pretty good. I've seen some of the internet. Everyone I've actually met who's seen it thought it was terrible. And in parts it was laughably bad, which is even worse.

I have no idea why dross like Dollhouse would gather any kind of fandom around it. Residual goodwill from Whedon's past success is the only explanation. That and actor recognition. But Dollhouse itself had nothing to recommend it, and a second season was more than it deserved.

If people are going to get all enthused about a tv show, at least make it a half decent one. Otherwise it's a waste of perfectly good fannishness.
Foxessa
98. Carla Lee
I'm so glad to see someone speaking to how I feel about the cancellation of a problematic and frequently horrible show.
Foxessa
99. Siena
I suppose I'm not on the right areas of the internet to see people up in arms about the cancellation. Two forums I frequented were critical of much of the show, but enjoyed some of the actors and their roles (and would also claim more than two stellar episodes - more like five or six, I think, with a handful of "good" and the rest rangign from "meh" to ick".) And a big portion of the sadness around the show as that there was something interesting at work, but that something was frequently undermined, handled in a ham-handed fashion, or failed to completely "go there" to explore a problematic situation that was set up, which was a shame because there was something there.

Where I started to feel a bit judged was at another forum, where I saw people outright say, "this show was not only bad, but harmful to women, and the people who watch it are participating in that harm." So I'm smarting a bit from things like that, and this review pokes the bruise a bit. I suppose all of this depends a lot on what neighborhoods you travel on the internet varying what you see. If I had been exposed to nothing but fanboy moping, I might be a little exasperated with the whole thing.
Foxessa
100. KutuluMike
*sigh*

So will FOX just keep airing repeats of House on Friday night? Or move Fringe there to die like all their other Sci-Fi stuff? God knows they don't have a single other show in their lineup worth DVR'ing, much less watching.

I wonder if it's too late to get my money back for all the Dollhouse episodes I bought on Amazon just so they'd keep it on the air.
Foxessa
101. anna_bat
"The bottom line is that when you’ve got a show with a lead who can’t act and is consistently shown up by her supporting cast and occasional guest stars, you have a problem."

Seriously, that didn't stop Alias from running for 5 years.
Foxessa
102. Jim Henry III
I got out of the habit of watching television when I didn't own one for some months, about ten years ago, and never got back into the habit; in the last ten years I've only watched a handful of shows on DVDs borrowed from friends, about half of them Whedon shows (Buffy, Angel, and Firefly). Dollhouse was the first show I've actually sat down in front of a television at broadcast time for and endured real-time advertisements for since 1998. It had serious flaws, mainly a slow build-up in the first five or six episodes and having the most important character played by the least talented actor in the cast, but it had one major thing going for it that more than made up for those flaws, for me: it delivered on a certain kind of pleasure one gets from the best written science fiction far more often than any other TV show I've ever seen. I liked most of Babylon 5 and early X-Files and a fair amount of the earlier Star Trek series, and loved Firefly, but they all less frequently (or outright rarely) had the kind of cool thinky extrapolation of how technological change might affect people that Dollhouse had, IMO, in more episodes than not.

That said, I'm not surprised it was cancelled, as low as the ratings have generally been. I wonder if there's any chance for any show with this kind of extrapolational near-future sf being a commercial success on network TV, even with a markedly better main actor than Dollhouse.

Avanon @84:

Let's all acknowledge the elephant in this room. Many women (and some men) find Dollhouse to be sexist. This is why they are so happy that it's going away. ..........
I'll introduce one piece of evidence from the very first commenter on this thread: "I'd certainly like to think that if someone came up with the technology to erase trauma and fill people's brains with knowledge as easily as pouring coffee into a cup, they would use it for more than putting women in leather miniskirts and making them hookers."


I've been fairly ambivalent about this. But sf is about (among other things) how people are affected by technological change and how they use new technology. Realistically, if a large corporation discovered this kind of technology and managed to keep it a trade secret (which is the most implausible part of the premise), then putting women in leather miniskirts and making it hookers is one of the first things they would do with it. It makes for some icky stories with icky characters -- certainly several of Dollhouse's main characters are sexist, and several of those who aren't particularly sexist are evil in more profound ways. But having sexist characters doesn't make a story or its author sexist. (Nor am I saying that ktempest or others are silly enough to think so; bear with me...) Nor does having evil characters *and making the reader sympathize with them* make a story or its author evil, IMO. What makes a story evil, or sexist, or racist, is trying to make the reader or viewer sympathize *with the evil/sexist/racist part of the bad character's personality*, not with the good person they could have been if they'd made better choices and the good aspects they still have in spite of all their wrongdoing. And that is something I don't think Joss and the other Dollhouse writers are guilty of, or at least not very often. But it's a subtle point and one intelligent people are liable to disagree on; one person will see the same story as trying to make them sympathize with an evil character's evilness while another sees it as making them sympathize with an evil character while not approving of their evil.

It's telling that, as one or two other posters have pointed out, the most author-insert-like character, Topher, is also one of the most unlikeable. One could read that as Joss saying implicitly: I know there are problems with this technology which necessariliy carry over to problems with telling stories about this technology, and I want to keep myself from getting complacent about that by having this character I identify strongly with start out complacently evil and gradually realize what a horrible person he's become.

Some people in this thread and elsewhere have said that Joss Whedon wasn't playing to his strengths here as compared with his work on Buffy, Angel and Firefly. And the witty dialogue of those shows is something I missed in Dollhouse, at least at first (there's more of it in later episodes). But with all its flaws I think I like Dollhouse better than the weaker seasons of Buffy and Angel. One of Joss's main weaknesses is world-building -- the sloppiness and ad-hocness of the worldbuilding are the only serious problems I have with his earlier shows -- and Dollhouse avoids that by being set in the now or the very near future. I'd like to see him do more near-future sf, whether as a TV show or comic book.

Alfvaen @42: Angel gets a lot better in seasons 3-4, and season 5 is fairly good too.
Foxessa
103. soru
I usually end up feeling like the people who find metaphorical richness in Dollhouse put it there instead of it being inherent or intentional.

An alternative theory would be that people who actively hate something are not going to tend to find themselves liking it.
john mullen
104. johntheirishmongol
I enjoyed some of Dollhouse, and thought some of it was not so good but complaining about ED as an actress makes me laugh. If that was a good measure of whether to keep a show or not, why did we have 8 seasons of Charmed? I won't cry over Dollhouse or even miss it terribly, but there is so little inventive tv on that I do hate to see anything that tries a little bit fail.
Harry Burger
105. Lightbringer
They aren't even giving it a chance to run in Sweeps Month to get the ratings numbers - they are betting reruns will do better without even trying. This strikes me as yet another Fox screwjob of a Joss show. Joss, please, find a new network.
Foxessa
106. BrendaW
I liked dollhouse - but agree it's certainly not feminist.

I won't miss it so much as I miss firefly.
Daniel Cole
107. zaldar
This show was not feminist no it wasn't meant to be...it was a show not EVERY show has to be about ooo men bad women strong and good! Wheedon is of course a feminist just not a go kill all the men feminist which from reading some of your other posts is how I would classify you. You are wrong here the show was good and will be missed, and it will be probably replaced with some lowest common denominator reality show which will definitely not be feminist or even humanist. Please dissapear and stop giving real feminists a bad name. True feminism was never about putting women ahead of men it was about making sure NO ONE was ahead.
Foxessa
108. Ron Hale-Evans
From the little I've seen of Dollhouse, I don't like it either. However, raining on other people's parades (or funerals, in the case of cancelled series) is generally Not Nice, and doesn't morally equal having a parade / celebrating a show in the first place.

I highly recommend the book Dorkismo: The Macho of the Dork, by Maria Bustillos, to fen who are unclear about why this might be the case.

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