Seriously, FOX? Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse to air on Fridays


I don’t normally post news, but I figure this is frustrating enough to enjoy a bit more analysis outside of my Twitter feed. Ironically, it was through Twitter that the news was revealed to me. From FOXBroadcasting’s new twitter feed came the following:

Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse launches Friday, February 13th

My immediate response: seriously, FOX? Are we going to go through this again? After Whedon’s last FOX show, Firefly, was destroyed by mismanagement by FOX, fans of the creator have already had reason to be slightly concerned about the show’s trajectory. Now, with the creative side seemingly together, comes the next blow – that even when it does air, its opportunity for success has shrunk dramatically.

The thing is, a lot more could have been done: FOX could have premiered the show behind an episode of American Idol, something that is increasingly common and that their other new drama, Lie to Me, is likely getting on January 21st. Nothing about this move seems even remotely like a network that is fully behind this show: and would premiering it a week early and avoiding the ominousness of Friday the 13th really have killed them?

I’m excited for Dollhouse, even as someone who outside of Firefly and Dr. Horrible is woefully behind on my Whedonverse viewing, but these signs keep popping up that this show is cursed. I don’t want to be a harbinger of ill-will towards the series’ fate, and I would love to feel more optimistic, but considering that repeats of NCIS and other crime procedurals are the shows performing best on Fridays something tells me that FOX’s attempt to rekindle The X-Files’ success in the timeslot a decade ago isn’t going to work…and if this means that Whedon’s fans are going to have to pick up FOX’s slack at promoting one of his series AGAIN, I don’t think this is the kind of deja vu the show is trying to discuss.

Below the jump, though, let’s take a look at what the rest of FOX’s January schedule brings us – to be honest, it’s quite reasonable, if frustrating for fans of the network’s science fiction dramas.

Mondays: House and 24

It’s a good combination for a variety of reasons: it uses House as a lead-in (something that I argued last year they should do more often and now are doing twice in one year), and it gives 24 some established backing for its first season in two years. The show suffered creatively and in the minds of viewers during its uneven sixth season, so any boost it can be given will help the network. Plus, this is a highly competitive lineup on a highly competitive night – Chuck, in particular, is in some trouble.

Tuesdays: American Idol and Fringe

This stays the same from the earlier announced lineup, and it’s a smart choice (Idol returns on January 13th, by the way): Fringe has the chance to grow as House did, debuting on its own and then benefitting from the huge Idol audience.

Wednesdays: American Idol and Lie to Me

Lie to Me is a new series about someone who can tell if someone is lying by simply observing their mannerisms, and benefitting from the Idol lead-in will be key to its success.

Thursday: Bones and Hell’s Kitchen

Bones avoids Fridays once again by landing in a Thursday slot that, to be honest, is less competitive now than in the past, and might just be a good spot for the show (Survivor is really the only competition left with Ugly Betty/Earl fading). And while it will struggle against the behemoths that are Grey’s/CSI/The Office, Hell’s Kitchen has its fans.

Friday: Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles and Dollhouse

Don’t get me wrong: I think Sarah Connor has been good all year, and I think it deserved its full season pickup, but it won’t perform well on Fridays. The only chance these shows have of finding a grip is if they considerably outperform the current reality series floundering in those timeslots – and even then, the future doesn’t look good.

Overall, it’s a good schedule: it greatly improves their competitiveness on Mondays and Thursdays, while using the return of American Idol to keep Fringe competitive and try to launch a new type of procedural at the same time. But for Whedon fans or fans of Terminator, this is a bitter pill to swallow: sadly, business is business.

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