Friday’s Dollhouse was an intriguing one-off idea regarding the uses of the Dollhouse’s technology—a woman using it to literally return from the dead to witness its aftermath. But it was jarring, once the show had switched gears and committed to the ongoing story of the conspiracy and investigation, to return to the active-of-the-week stories. And it got me thinking about the fate of this show, which has gotten a bit lost in all the brouhaha over saving Chuck.
I want to see Dollhouse return for a second season, because I think it’s shown us, in the second half of its season, that it has tremendous potential as a dark story about the nature of memory and consciousness. But I don’t know if it has that potential as a series. At its best moments, it’s had the feeling of events rushing forward toward an imminent climax. Which makes me think that, in a perfect world, Dollhouse would have been not a series but a miniseries.
I wonder if the ideal, then, would be for Fox to return Dollhouse, for a limited and final second season, to resolve its story without the burden of stretching it out with one-off episodes. Now I realize that’s probably not going to happen, because Dollhouse probably does not make sense for Fox except as an ongoing series with the potential to continue for multiple seasons.
But I do have to wonder: in a perfect world, with no business incentives to make Dollhouse an open-ended series, would Joss Whedon have made it a limited run of episodes—12, 15, or whatever it took to get the job done? And at what point does he decide he’s better off making shows for cable, where the demands of the medium are less at odds with his storytelling vision?