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Dollhouse‘s Joss Whedon Doles Out Choice Tidbits

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Friday’s premiere of Dollhouse’s pivotal episode “Man on the Street” has come and gone, and here I am, posting. But as far as I am concerned, no, I am not late to the game. I am early.

Having been ridiculously fortunate to have been invited to pick the prolific, rather bizarre brain of Joss Whedon, the mastermind behind the Buffy, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse franchises (not to mention a screenwriter responsible for much of the stellar dialog of the blockbuster flick Speed), I decided to focus on what the man’s plans are, rather than the awesomeness currently airing on FOX at 9 PM every Friday night.

When rumors materialize, I like to go to the source, don't you? And after all, it is often enough I have been accused of being a spoiler whore. I shouldn’t tempt anyone else into sin, should I?

Oh, okay, I will. What’s being a diehard fan if it doesn’t include sifting through crumpets? So, yep, there are a few choice Dollhouse tidbits — and a glimpse into what some sources claim has been increasingly on Mr. Whedon’s mind.

Your show is catching on, just as those of us spending hours on end speculating about the next episode of your other televised brainchildren predicted. And yet, I understand you’re still intending to leave TV for online media exclusively. Considering how beloved you are among those of us married to our boob tubes, isn’t it just a tad drastic?

I never actually said that. Definitely, the new media is very attractive to me. It’s an open field. There’s a lot of freedom and I’m very afraid that that freedom will be taken away before the artistic community has a foothold in it. So for reasons both artistic and political, I wish very much to pursue new media.

But that doesn’t mean that I’m never going to do television. Everybody knows I had a rough time getting Dollhouse up to speed, but that doesn’t mean I’m never going to do television again. I love television, and I love it in a different way than I love the Internet, in a different way that I love movies. [With this] kind of storytelling, the scope, and the breadth, and the depth that you can get from a TV show is unlike anything else and I love it.

I have to admit I’m shooting a movie right now, producing, it, actually, a movie that really went from script to pre-production in a matter of weeks. I did Dr. Horrible in a matter of days. And the way the television process is a grind for me that I’m not as used to [it] as I was, but that doesn’t mean that I’m turning my back on it as a medium. I adore it. And the people I’ve dealt with have been honorable and honest. 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.

So, how about Zillion TV, Netflix top-boxes, Hulu? Aren’t all those crossover TV and Internet broadcasting solution going to be able to provide you with that kind of long, deep scope of the project and yet, afford more freedom in the artistic sense that seems to me you consider lacking in traditional television series model?

The problem is that we have two completely opposing models, regular television, which is made for a lot of money, has a lot of crews, employs a lot of people. You can make a good deal of money in that business, so can the networks and whatnot. And then there’s the Internet, which is not that at all. It’s basically, although with Dr. Horrible we made money, we didn’t make the kind of money that would make a studio stand up and prick its little ears up. Nor were we paying people the kind of dollars where they can just do that for a living.

With things like Hulu, all that means is that shows are going to be shown on the Internet probably instead of reaping reruns on television, which means no residuals for the artists, which means that there’s almost no money model on the Internet and a lot of money, but also a lot of waste model on TV. We’re trying to bring them together, but nobody knows how they’re going to mix, how they’re going to meld, where they’re going to meet.

At some point it would be great if they met, if we could have fast, well made, but not slow moving productions on the Internet that employed enough people to keep the community in a good place, but at the same time, cut some of the fat out, so that everybody was able to do more work and still feel secure in their making a living. But right now that model doesn’t exist, and none of us have figured out, believe me, we’ve been talking about it, how to mix the two.

There you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth, the answers to the questions that were on my mind the most. Sure, we have Dollhouse, and it rocks, but what are we to look forward in the future? Apparently – yes, I am being a hopeful bunny – to both. If life gives you lemonade, be nice enough to thank it.

And now, for a few Dollhouse treats. Didn’t think I had forgotten those, did you?

Amy Acker’s character, for example, is getting quite an arc toward the later episodes of the season. Sounds good to me. A pool of misery her character may be, but she’s fascinating – and Ms. Acker is a terrific actress.

We know there are dollhouses scattered all over the world. Unfortunately, for now, Mr. Whedon says, with the economy taking a toll on the budget, and the issue of the pilot having been scrapped in favor of a revised version, there won’t be a foreign dollhouse featured just yet. But once there will (once the show is franchised – if worse comes to worst), it won’t be in the vein of an Italian Wolfram and Hart, “where we just use the same set and fill it with Italians. No, it’s one of my favorite things we ever did, but that’s because Angel was a lot sillier.” When the set for another dollhouse is built, we can expect it to be different – though just as realistic as Echo and Sierra’s home.

Finally, for those of us Buffy aficionados, Felicia Day has an episode. Alas, that’s it – for now – for the Buffy alums. “Most of them [said Joss] are, I’m happy to say, working, and I do like to see the gang, but we have to establish the reality of this world before we can bring in somebody without it being too jarring. Although we have one episode with a guy who looks a lot like Nick Brendan and his character’s name is Nicholas and that was a terrible idea. We should have never named him Nicholas because every time I see his footage, I go, 'Hey, wait a minute.' Oh, I’m confused.”

Joss Whedon, confused? There must be quite a resemblance.

Intrigued? Well, for myself, let me just say, when asked about my Friday night plans, I have those in the bag – until, at least, the 13th episode of season one.

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  • There’s an extra ep. on the Dollhouse DVD. Season Finale May 8th, but the one on May1st also huge.