If you see a Dollhouse headline over the next couple of days, exclaiming how the season is getting its finale episode cut, relax. This is a nasty brand of journalism designed to scare the bejaysus out of you while dragging you into the article. The truth of the matter is that whilst Dollhouse is losing an episode from the line up produced, this should not impact the show’s storyline. “Omega”, the final episode to be aired from season 1, is how Joss Whedon himself envisioned the season ending originally. “Epitaph One” was produced by 20th Century Fox, without instruction from the Fox network. It’s a standalone episode, so while fans will want to get a look at it, losing that episode will not affect any of the plot arcs, therefore the network can get away with not airing it.
The reason for all this mess and kerfuffle stems from the fact that the Fox network ordered a 13 episode run for the season. This was fine and dandy up until the originally shot pilot was scrapped and drastically redone. However, due to some contractual business, both the originally shot pilot and the aired pilot (“Ghost“) counted towards the season run, thus meaning that the number of episodes contractually required by the network was decreased to 12. According to Tim Minear (writer/director/producer on Dollhouse) over on Whedonesque:
… we really ended up with 12 episodes. But the studio makes DVD and other deals based on the original 13 number. So we created a standalone kind of coda episode. Which is the mythical new episode 13. The network had already paid for 13 episodes, and this included the one they agreed to let us scrap for parts. It does not include the one we made to bring the number back up to 13 for the studio side and its obligations.
Fox doesn’t want to air any more episodes than it already has to and so the network has decided not to air the surplus episode, but since it was produced in order to fill out the DVD set’s quota, it’s pretty likely that it will appear on there (in fact, Minear flat out states that it will). So the 64,000 dollar question is, what does this mean for Dollhouse? With the ratings staying fairly level at the lower end of the performance spectrum, speculation has raged on as to whether it would even make it to a second season, and this news doesn’t improve the odds. However, all sources say that the show has not yet been cancelled, so as usual we have to just sit tight and hope for some sort of miracle.
Do you watch Dollhouse? If so, do you think it deserves a second season?