Entertainment behind the scenes
“Buffy” creator Joss Whedon plays in the “Dollhouse”
It’s been six years since the critically acclaimed cult fave “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” went off the air. Since then, the television show’s creator Joss Whedon has released a thriller movie called “Serenity,” directed a couple episodes of U.S. comedy series “The Office” on NBC and created the Web sensation “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.”
Whedon’s latest project is the sci-fi TV series “Dollhouse” starring the 28-year-old Eliza Dushku, a former “Buffy” cast member. The show began playing earlier this year and has posted mediocre ratings on Fox, which has aired the series in the Friday night dead zone, a time period with typically low viewership. Last Friday, “Dollhouse” ended its weekly erosion and climbed slightly in the ratings to 4.3 million viewers, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Whedon said in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday that he has no plans of abandoning television for other fields, like the Internet.
“Everyone knows I had a rough time getting ‘Dollhouse’ up to speed, but that doesn’t mean I’m never going to do television,” Whedon said.
“It’s just getting a TV show off the ground is rough waters no matter what, and sometimes you feel up for a swim and sometimes you don’t,” he said.
But Whedon also said the next episode in the series, “Man on the Street” airing on Friday, is a “game changer” that could get viewers to tune in more by reintroducing the inner workings of the eponymous Dollhouse where the show is set, and the characters who live there.
In “Dollhouse,” Dushku plays a woman named Echo who is one of several “dolls” with memories and personalities wiped clean, who are working for a secret operation that sends them out on missions. The dolls’ handlers program their personalities for each mission. In last Friday’s episode, Echo was sent out to infiltrate a religious cult for U.S. law enforcement, and she arrived in the cult’s camp as a physically and literally blind believer in the group’s religious teachings.
On the conference call, Whedon mentioned his hopes for the series to last a few seasons. But Whedon said there is not much room to explore the finer nuances of the characters’ lives outside the Dollhouse, as the show enters the second half of the 13 episodes that Fox has committed to.
“At this point we’re pretty much just swinging for the bleachers in the second half,” he said.
So far, some critics have panned the show. Hollywood trade paper Variety wrote, “Joss Whedon’s cult following is no secret, but he seems assured of attracting the faithful and little else with ‘Dollhouse’ - a series that exhibits a kitchen-sink mentality, throwing in a half-dozen assorted plot threads that intertwine to create confusion.”
But online magazine Salon took a different view. “Combining intelligent layers of mystery with sly dialogue and a steady flow of action, Whedon has crafted a provocative, bubbly new drama that looks as promising as anything to hit the small screen over the course of the past year,” it wrote.
Now it’s up to viewers to decide if Whedon can keep playing with his “Dollhouse” on Fox.