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Friday, May 30, 2008

Campaign to Save Dollhouse Before It Airs! [This show is not cancelled!]

Regular readers of my blog are well aware that I have little faith in the television networks. I'm even bitter of the cancellation of Firefly, more so than most people.

The collaborative effort between Producer / Star Eliza Dushku and Joss Whedon, Dollhouse, already impresses me. I've seen a trailer, read a few bits and heard a few bites about it, and I can count on one hand the number of times I've been this excited about a show coming to the small screen. That's what makes the following blog entry all the more weighty for me.

I believe that you have to discuss and regularly view the shows you enjoy to keep them on the air. That doesn't always work, so sometimes you have to campaign, join in with a group of fellow fans and participate in an activity that draws attention and demonstrates that there is a large, loyal fan base for a series facing cancellation.

There is a point, however, where you're just taking it too far. The administrator named Nathan over at has really found that point. He's opened a plea to the gathering of Joss Whedon fans to start campaigning against the cancellation of the show before the pilot has even aired. That's just like meeting a woman on the street and saying; "Please don't file for a divorce!" before you've even introduced yourself.

Now, it's true that previous Joss Whedon series have been cancelled prematurely. Angel was cancelled after five seasons, which really isn't something to cry about since television shows in the US are lucky to get into their second season these days. Firefly was cancelled before they could finish one season and I completely agree that the show got a raw deal in scheduling, advertising, and in it's treatment from the Fox network. Eliza Dushku, who produces and stars in Dollhouse, had her series, Tru Calling, cancelled as well, but let's face it, it wasn't exactly a television gem. I enjoyed it, but it's cancellation wasn't life changing for me. I was honestly happy Eliza could go on to work on a higher quality series or continue building a film career.

Network decisions rarely seem fair where our favorite shows are concerned, that's true. I reiterate, however, that this bulletin board administrator has acted prematurely and is doing more damage than good.

There's a huge problem with starting a campaign to save a show this early. It fills people who don't closely follow entertainment news with the assumption that the show is about to be cancelled. This isn't true at the time of this writing, but it's the conclusion tens of thousands, more likely HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of people are going to come to. It doesn't matter if this Nathan fellow posts a retraction, deletes his post, takes out a full page ad in Variety magazine, the damage is done, your words and the negative publicity you've stirred is out there. Many websites have already picked up the story, some of them are attached to television shows that may mention this trigger happy campaign on air where millions of people will see it and make the wrong assumption.

Let's face it, publicity is a careful thing, and most of those people will only hear; "Dollhouse" and "Cancelled" even though this isn't anywhere near the truth.

I'll give you an example. Say someone on an entertainment program is speaking about this issue, they might say something like; "And in other television news, a community site for the new Joss Whedon series set to debut this fall, Dollhouse, has started an anti-cancellation campaign pre-emptively. This is most likely due to creator Joss Whedon's earlier series, Firefly, being cancelled mid season by the Fox network..."

You see? In less than 20 seconds of spoken E-News reporting you have the words Joss Whedon, Dollhouse, and Cancelled. Some of you are thinking; "But those words weren't even in the same sentence!" It just doesn't matter. Half the people watching the E-News are only half paying attention and when you look at that phrase, even spoken differently, those words will stand out and be more memorable as the most dramatic points in the statement.

For anyone who doesn't already know, Dollhouse is about characters called Actives. They can be programmed to love someone, have different skills at the highest levels and even feature entirely different personalities. There are only a few models, and as far as I can surmise there is a company in control of them while at least one of the group fights for individuality. I like the concept, I want to see it go as far as Joss Whedon, Eliza Dushku (this is her first development deal), and crew want to take it. I hope it's on for as long as they want it on the air and I wish them many spinnoffs, maybe even a few million in merchandising and even more in syndication.

I have to admit, I'm more than a little irate with this Nathan fellow. He's really just an over anxious fan who didn't really think about his early call to action before posting it on the web. I'm sure he didn't mean any harm.

My advice to anyone reading this is to actually watch Dollhouse, give it a real chance and don't miss a single episode. Also make sure you record it with your DVR, those numbers are tracked and considered along with ratings figures. Sadly, thanks to this Nathan chap, we'll have to make sure that people know for a fact that this show isn't cancelled, so if you hear someone say it is, quash it right away, correct them politely and firmly. Somehow I thought we might get to see Joss have a good solid run on television without his fans, that includes yours truly, having to go on a bloody crusade. Why can't anything good ever come easy?

I find your lack of faith disturbing.

Everyone else;
Go take a look at the trailers and learn to love the new Whedon / Dushku collaborative effort. Go now, go often from different computers. Let's rack up a few gazillion hits on the website.

There are also more positive ways to show your excitement and your anticipation for this show at on the main page. They're less alarmist and far more effective.


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