DOLLHOUSE: Or How the TV Addict Stopped Worrying About a Friday Night Timeslot

dollhouse cast

Despite naysayers who fear FOX has dumped Joss Whedon’s latest series into a show-killing Friday night timeslot, this TV Addict believes the move may be the best thing to have happened to DOLLHOUSE since star Eliza Dushku’s parents procreated.

Crazy? Perhaps. But hear me out.

Now granted, Fridays on FOX don’t historically have the best track-record (see: FIREFLY, DARK ANGEL, VANISHED… ). But a lot has changed since the ill-fated launch of FIREFLY, Whedon’s space saga, in the fall of 2002, including what network execs expect of a new show. Thanks to television’s increasingly-fragmented audience, the rise of numerous cable channels, increased awareness of non-conventional viewers (who watch via DVR or even outlets such as, networks have been forced to accept that numbers which may have put a show on death row only a few short years ago are now greeted with lively cheers.

Just ask GOSSIP GIRL, whose deafening buzz hasn’t exactly translated into big numbers. Or Josh Freidman, creator of TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, whose show has avoided being axed despite the fact that the heroine shoots more bullets in an average episode than the series has viewers.

It also helps that, contrary to popular opinion, FOX executives aren’t stupid, as evidenced when scheduling guru Preston Beckman told TVWeek’s Josef Adalian that while DOLLHOUSE and TERMINATOR don’t have an easy road ahead of them, “We can afford to let these shows run their course. We can give them 12 or 13 weeks to find an audience.”

Perhaps finally having learned from history that shows which began with small numbers can turn into hits both modest (ONE TREE HILL) or mega (CHEERS, SEINFELD, DALLAS), the networks seem to be showing a bit more patience than in seasons past, as evidenced by the full-season pickups of KATH & KIM or LIFE. This is, obviously, in part a response to an undeniable economic reality: It’s more cost-effective to try and turn and morph an existing show into a hit than to start from scratch with a new program.

It’s also worth noting that while Friday’s are now the equivalent of a dead zone, it wasn’t all that long ago that CBS ruled the airwaves by programming DALLAS and FALCON CREST while FOX gave nerds everywhere a viable excuse to stay home on Friday nights with the X-FILES.

Which is why, this TV Addict is about to make a very bold and some might say fool-hearted prediction: Not only will TERMINATOR and DOLLHOUSE thrive on Friday nights, but each will be around when the 2009 fall season is rolled out.

But, um, just in case… it wouldn’t hurt to go out and buy weebles to send FOX executives should a Save Our Show campaign prove necessary.

Credit: Kurt Iswarienko/FOX

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  • For the first day after I heard this news, I was panicky, yes. But then, after thinking about what fun freaks & geeks everywhere will be having on Friday nights beginning Feb 13, when there is a 3-hour solid block of awesome SF TV to giggle over (TSCC, DOLLHOUSE, BATTLESTAR) on Friday nights…well that’s pretty frakkin’ awesome, isn’t it? I can’t wait.

  • Is Battlestar Galactica definitely moving back to Fridays? If so, does anyone know what it’s being paired with?

    With Stargate: Atlantis ending its run in early 2009 and Sanctuary having a short 1st season (if I remember correctly), I’m wondering if BSG will get any good lead-ins, or if it will be cursed with reruns and/or lower quality shows (ala Painkiller Jane / Flash Gordon).

    With the recent two-parter about an abducted R2-D2, I’m gaining a little more faith in Star Wars: Clone Wars. Fridays are shaping up to be good night again, though I still miss Moonlight, Men In Trees, and Womens Murder Club.

  • contrary to popular opinion, FOX executives aren’t stupid

    Well, it’s not just popular opinion, they were complete idiots, there’s no other explanation for the way Firefly was dealt with.

    But I agree that this changed, and especially with Kevin Reilly in charge I, too, want to believe that they will give a real chance to both shows to do well on Fridays — as well as a sci-fi show can do on a Friday night in today’s world that is.

    Of course, I would have still really liked some clear support for Dollhouse, like a series premiere in a post-House (or post-Idol) slot, with the second episode the same week on its regular Friday night…

    By the way, please please do not ever put the awful Kath & Kim in the same category as the brilliant Life, only the later has quality and deserves to be given a chance.

  • tlcinvt

    I really hope you are right about this. Friday night is a good time slot for me, since there isn’t as much competition, but I know ratings wise it can often be a death slot. Of course we DVR everything and watch it later, with only top priority shows being watched the same night they air. I know that means we are part of the ratings problem, but I am tired of the way the system works. Why can’t we be the customers instead of the advertisers? I would gladly buy subscriptions to shows I really want to see, instead of having 200 shows airing that I could care less about. If you want to sell me a product or service, have the best product or service. Don’t stick annoying commercials in my face. In fact, I am less apt to buy things from companies I see too many commercials for, and we don’t even watch commercials normally. If the people who really watched the shows determined whether on not they stayed on the air, there would be a lot less junk. Maybe they could even offer a stock type setup, so those who are willing to pay more to keep shows on the air could. Ok rambling now.

  • I agree with everything you’ve said and BOY would I love to have a third season of TTSCC! Fingers crossed and DVR programmed!

  • Joe

    Good analysis- and thanks for the linke!

  • Thank you! I wrote a similar post on my blog (just search for Dollhouse, it’ll come up). I completely agree, and the fact that FOX jumped in to say that this gives them more room for ratings than Monday night really made me feel better. I also think that Fridays are growing a big. Ghost Whisperer is hitting some bigger numbers and since The Ex List was cancelled, it’s clear people are looking for a 9:00 show on Friday nights. Could Dollhouse be the one?

  • I would just be happy, if they did decide to cancel, if they would let the show writers know before they film the last episode so they could try to write some type of closure. Also, what else will Dollhouse have to compete against? And whoever said that economic slowdown bit is right. We all get together and make snacky foods and watch tv now, instead of going out. Viva la Joss Whedon shows!

  • jess

    well i choose to be optimistic since you thinking sounds hmm… sound. But still upset with them not just about the Friday scheduling but also about putting BONES on Thursdays what is up with that.

  • Tony

    I’m glad someone finally said it! Thank you! FOX fridays nights might just be the new place to be.

  • Elizabeth

    I’m not sure I have faith in FOX. They’re a bunch of morons. They tease me with good shows, then drop them without notice. Here’s hoping.

  • Ginger

    My DVR will be humming along on Fridays: Terminator, Dollhouse, and if NBC keeps it around: Lipstick Jungle.

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