Exclusive Interview: Will Joss Whedon Survive the DOLLHOUSE?

dollhouse cast

Attention Fans: It’s officially time to cut Joss Whedon a little slack

Because as it turns out, there is an incredibly high price to pay for having a track record of culturally relevant television, millions of passionate followers, and Summer Glau on your speed dial.

That price: An almost inhumane level of self-inflicted pressure and fan expectation.

Expectation that is about to reach a boiling point as the Whedonverse (yes, he has his own universe) anxiously count down the days (14 in case you’re wondering) until the February 13th bow of his highly anticipated new FOX series DOLLHOUSE.

None of which comes as a surpise to Joss Whedon himself, who was only too happy to sit down with this TV Addict at FOX’s recent January press junket in Los Angeles to talk about surviving the Dollhouse.

Talk about the pressure you’re feeling right now.
Joss Whedon:
There is pressure, but it’s the same pressure I always feel. It’s the same pressure I felt in high school. If I’m writing something and somebody is going to see it, I don’t want it to suck. I pretty much live in terror, constant terror of public humiliation. But it’s that constant fear that makes me somewhat meticulous.

You’ve been in the spotlight for the better part of a decade now. Have the amount of behind-the-scenes news and rumors emanating from the ‘Dollhouse’ taken you by surprise?
Yeah you kind of take it with a grain of salt and always remember that there is only one thing worse than being talked about. So you know it’s absolutely the price and it’s fine. But as we get closer to the premiere, it has been getting more and more like this. Ultimately the show is the show and if people enjoy it then we did good and if they don’t, we did the other thing and all the speculation ends ups meaning nothing if that happens.

What are your thoughts on being paired with TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES on Friday nights.
I love being paired with THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES. I love that show, so it works for me. I know I’m in the minority and a lot of people still adhere to the old ways, but I haven’t watched a show when it airs in like two years. Fridays are tough. But what matters is what the Network is expecting and these guys made it very clear that Friday carried a different weight then being the opener for 24 [on Monday]. I’d rather not be in that spot and I’d rather be where the pressure is off a little bit and if the numbers are soft, well, that’s going to be that is going to be a “Friday thing.”

And just think of the crossover opportunities! Would Summer Glau not make an awesome member of the Dollhouse?
She would, she would. I think it’s time for Summer to play someone who isn’t a robot, insane or you know… but I’m very excited that our show is with her. I love her show above and beyond the fact that she’s in it. Which is nice because I’ve watched a lot of crap because my friends are in it and I just feel that Friday will be a night of television that I get. The two shows really are companion pieces, sometimes so much so that we’ll be working on an idea, watching TERMINATOR and have to say, “Okay, we have to change that.” There have been some similarities!

Let me just say, you look ridiculously tired. Would it be fair to say that this show has taken a lot out of you?
With DOLLHOUSE, I’ve worked hard to make it an ensemble piece among the writers and have an extraordinary staff. I haven’t been on set every second the way I used to, partially because I have a lot of directors that I know and partially because I don’t have time because we were sort of re-imagining the thing. But at the end of the day it says “Executive Producer: Me.” And if the product isn’t as good as we could have done, I’m going to have to live with that for the rest of my life. Those things don’t go away anymore.

The thing is that ultimately if I feel that I didn’t give it my best you know then I’m going to feel bad about it and I should whether or not the audience likes it or not. If the audience loves it and I feel like I could have done better, I’m going to be okay. If the audience hates it and I feel that I put every ounce into it that I could then I’m going to be okay. If they go. “this seems weak” and I agree with them, I’ll probably go into a coma state… I’m a writer…. really just a big neurotic guy.

Check back next week for more with Joss Whedon, including his thoughts on the future of network television and news on a possible sequel to DR. HORRIBLE’S SING-A-LONG BLOG. And be sure to catch the series premiere of DOLLHOUSE on Friday February 13th at 9PM on FOX (Global in Canada)

For all the latest TV news and reviews