Dollhouse Finally Canceled, What Went Wrong?

Even the biggest Dollhouse fans knew this day was coming: Dollhouse has been sent to the big TV scrapyard in the sky, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The program has been on the brink of cancellation for most of its televised life, and because of pitiful ratings, it wasn't a question of "if," but a question of "when."

For those of you excited to see how the whole show shakes out, industry insiders say all episodes will still air, with the final episode serving as a finale to tie up loose ends.

But how did a show by a cult-fave producer (Joss Whedon) that starred a sexy actress (Eliza Dushku) and had the support of powerhouse network fail? Let's take a hasty look, shall we? (We'll ignore the obvious: Dollhouse's Friday-night time slot and it's pairing with Brothers.)

1. The standalone-versus-mythology mix was off-kilter: Aside from all the show's problems, there was a solid foundation to build on—but Dollhouse only added to it sparingly, spending too much time on the periphery. We got a peek at the show's potential in the unaired-but-awesome episode "Epitaph One," and Season Two had sprinkles of what the show should have been focusing on: Echo (Eliza Dushku) absorbing her imprinted personalities and using them to figure out how far the Dollhouse goes, while kicking the asses of anyone who got in her way. But all too often, viewers had to wade through 35 minutes of generic standalone story before getting a nugget of the overall arc, and frankly, TV is too competitive and our attention spans are too short to make this tolerable.

2. The story started out too slow: Joss, at the behest of Fox, waited too long to get down to the nitty gritty. By that time (five episodes into the first season) most had already—and justifiably so—given up on the program. A simple tease of the apocalypse from "Epitaph One" early in the show's run (I'm thinking pilot episode) would have given it more legs. You have to build momentum right from the start these days. Ironically, a show that was thematically about identity actually lacked identity.

3. Dollhouse lacked a strong protagonist: Let's face it: Echo was too damn boring for too damn long. Yeah, we know the Actives are supposed to be emotionless, but no one wants to root for someone just because they look good in an American Apparel tank top. How different would the show's reception have been if we'd seen a glimpse of the ass-kicking Echo to come? Joss wouldn't have given anything away if he'd revealed her as a strong heroine by showing us peeks at the future (duh, of course she was going to head in that direction), and viewers would've had something and someone to look forward to. As those cheesy bumper stickers say: It's the journey, not the destination!

4. The show took itself too seriously: Joss' strength is his wry wit. Yet the short Web project Dr. Horrible had a thousand times more of it than hours and hours of Dollhouse. Maybe Joss was trying to go in a different direction and be more serious, but the show could really have benefited from a few chuckles.

5. Hype: This isn't anyone but old Father Internet's fault, but Dollhouse was almost doomed to fail from the outset, thanks to super-heightened expectations. Now with Dollhouse out of the way, we can focus all our attention on buzzing about Cabin in the Woods!

Dollhouse, we hardly knew ye, but what we did knew of ye could have been better.

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Apr 19, 2016
I love Dollhouse. Even though it was cut short, I loved absolutely everything about it. I loved Echo and how she transformed from a blank slate to a strong and powerful woman. I liked Boyd until the very end. Topher, Victor, and Sierra. I enjoyed the different stories/cases. Actually, the only thing I didn't enjoy was the first epitaph. I didn't enjoy these new characters in the first season. There need to be more shows like this. It's upsetting because all the shows I actually do enjoy keep getting cut short :/ Maybe in another dimension, the show will actually have been continue on for another season or so.
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Sep 06, 2015
Dollhouse was and still is one of the top 5 tv shows. The biggest mistake They did was putting it on Friday nights. I bet if they brought back this TV show on like a Monday or Tuesday or even Thursday night this show would kick butt. Trickgaming.com
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Aug 27, 2015
Yeah, I seriously hate you and I think you and your article are stupid. My God. We need GOOD TV. We need gripping, philosophical, thoughtful, powerful ideas in TV. Your entire article essentially says, "Uh, wull, it wasn't like dumbandsimple enuf to make people feel sexy stuff in ther feels. Uh ima go watch sum reel howsewives."

Some day, I believe in my heart, somebody will find a way to make amazing shows that succeed. You are the contemptible enemy of that.
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Mar 24, 2015
I have to say I love this show . I am appalled to see the show be trashed like this . I love the characters ,plot twists,and overall vibe . Eliza Dushku has me kept me watching this show I enjoyed seeing her play all those different personas and the wardrobes . I just finished the first season and I found this show on netflix 24 hours ago. I couldnt help myself it was just so addictive. Loved the first season cant wait for the second. Sad the show ended I would have for sure thought this would have made it to at least 4 seasons. I will be sad when I finish this series for it is the most orginal series I have seen and will probably ever see . Dollhouse deserves a better article because this one does not do it justice . For those of you who havent seen it I totally reccomend.
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Aug 04, 2014
This was a great show through and through. It was not meant to be just action packed, but rather a dramatic somewhat slowgoing look into human nature. This show had a smokn main character, an amazing production and storyline, and I feal the author of this article is a jack ass for undermining the purpose and creation of this show. The only mistakes made with the Dollhouse are the facts that they didn't air a third season and they made a show for people who were sentimantal, imaginitive, and had the ability to recognize true potential, of which very few live on this planet.
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May 27, 2014
I agree that it took a while to get rolling, most of season 1 didn't really go anywhere, but after the little teaser of Epitaph One, and throughout Season 2, it really started to pick up. Season 2's problem was season 1.

And, to make the point even better, I'm watching it this second as I'm typing this...
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May 18, 2014
I don't think either the tone or the beginning of the series were mistaken. It meant to dig into the concept of the soul, the individual. If it had had a different rhythm, it probably wouldn't have transmitted that reflection. Most people like the second season better. I prefer the first in spite of its storyline being less interesting.
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Jul 29, 2013
Love you to bring this show back loved it .it was different
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Nov 14, 2012
This show was the best I wish it wod have lasted longer I cryed when it was over
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Aug 21, 2012
plus, som of this is B.S. The show was not boring or slow. the subtle echo remembering stuff so suddenly but being clever enough not to say anything. that was creepy yet smart. I hope to make a screenplay like that one day. plus i DID NOT expect boyd to betray everybody and b so insane. Topher was my fave character though. he was like the best and most funny.
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Aug 21, 2012
i LUVED THAT SHOW!!! I no it was a long time ago but R.I.P dollhouse (lol) the epitaph one and two were totally the complete best season finales ever. It ended cleanly though so at least they didn't end it like Angel
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Jul 16, 2012
they should have kept this show
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May 22, 2012
i think the show was to close to reality and it scared to many people i have the dvds and i was on the edge of my seat for every epsode
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Oct 09, 2011
I want to say that the author is an idiot, however he is probably a talented analyst that sees the general public for what they are... Idiots. "TV is too competitive and our attention spans are too short to make this tolerable." For 90% of the couch potatoes out there with energy enough to change the channel, this is sadly too true.

Long Live Dollhouse! He he
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Oct 02, 2011
The dude who wrote this review literally has not a single good taste. I can see where he's coming from a little bit, but if you really really think about it.. "Echo was too boring for too long". No, she wasn't. This show was genius. They were building up character for the characters. I would rather of sat through five episodes of Dollhouse, seeing Echos point of view on things, and how the Dollhouse was ran, and why everyone was there, and met all the other people who were involved with the show, then two episodes in and Echo realizing more of what and why she was doing there.

There has and never will be another show like this guaranteed. The concept was fucking fantastic. One amazing show. The plot twists, the characters, the whole story line was brilliant. I'm on my way to finishing the last few episodes of season two, and I still get the sad feeling knowing that it's almost at its end.



If you haven't seen the show, I would highly recommend you do.
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Aug 04, 2014
I completely agree, you have much more insight than the author of this arcticle.
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Jun 14, 2013
I loves this show. I was hoping they would have had a season three. I watched every episode on netflix in a course of a couple days. I dont know how anyone wouldnt have liked this series. Sucks that its over
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Feb 05, 2012
I have waited a long time to see a TV show that appeals to my intelligence level. For all the haters...I wonder if you would be better off watching sponge bob or equally IQ dropping program. Just goes to show that as society moves along the populous gets dumber. Dollhouse gets two thumbs up, and should be picked up by another network.
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Sep 04, 2011
GLAD TO SEE IT GONE!!!.. If Terminator had to die then I'm GLAD it's taken this down with it!!.. Terminator had a MASSIVE base and ability yet had to be canned cos "Oh no we want more girlies or more lovey dovey reality touchy feely blah blah blah blah *spew*).. Gone are the good ol' days of television I tell you.. Well all I can say is.. Dollhouse may have had multiple personalities/memories etc etc.. atleast Terminator had time travel!... let's hope it comes back!
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Aug 04, 2014
Your a narrow minded jack ass who needs to be fucking killed so you waste any more oxygen. Your didn't like this show because it acualy required you to have an intellecual level higher than that of a five year old. Terminator was a shity 'shoot em up' movie and I'm glad ITS gone.
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Jun 04, 2011
dollhouse is AMAZING..just finished watching the last episode..im so sad this got cancelled....
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Jul 14, 2010
I enjoyed every episode. I thought the concept was brilliant and only wish there was more. :o(
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Mar 31, 2010
i like the last few episodes of dollhouse bcuz it was more exciting and there was always sumthing goin on but the main reason i watched it to start with was bcuz eliza dushku and i think victor is cute
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Nov 27, 2009
lmao, I knew this would happen.
I can finally publish me theory:
the greater the number of Whedonverse people on a Fox show, the closer the chance of cancellation = 1
C'mon, Tru Calling (Eliza), that show Marti Noxon was involved in, Drive (Amy Acker, Nathan Fillion, Timer Minear) and of course, Firefly. Why these people keep signing on with Fox is beyond me.

Oh well, will watch it when it gets released on Bluray.
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Nov 23, 2009
The only reason I was watching this show was because of Eliza Dushku... She deserves better shows.
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Aug 04, 2014
This was an amazing show and she could never possibly do any better because there's no such thing.
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Nov 22, 2009
dollhouse = fail, dushku = win
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Nov 21, 2009
It (Dollhouse) was given at least 2 attempts, maybe even 3 to revamp/re air the show. It didn't make any sense.... so why doesn't FOX give Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles another shot, considering they ordered the second season pretty fast; faster than Dollhouse anyway... GIVE viewers a chance to want to watch FOX other than it's fantastic sunday line-up. King of the Hill was cancelled prematurely aswell. So FOX; what have you learned from this experiment....Failure....
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Aug 04, 2014
King of the hill and terminator were both shit. You didn't like the dollhouse because it required a higher intelligence level than you have. What has america learned from this comment...fail.... because this just shows were raising shit poor creature like you. Next time you wanna post something use your fucking brain first.
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Nov 19, 2009
I couldn't get enough of Eliza Dushku. She is one of the most sexy actresses that I have seen in a long time. This is not just about the way she looks but how she acts. The show achieved the same standards with each of the ladies that were on this show. For me it never got dull because of each of the actresses on this show. I'm very disappointed to hear that others don't share or understand that this is why we watch the show. The story is relatively unimportant and just provides a distraction while watching the girls.
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Aug 04, 2014
This is so stupid I can't even make a good response. Fuck you bro.
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Nov 18, 2009
I agree and I disagree. I thought the show had plenty of humor and chuckles - - mainly provided through the tech character. I liked the overall arc of the series and was glad that some of the storylines didn't go where I thought they may have been uninventively headed: e.g., was glad to see the plot veer from overweight, painstakingly self-conscious neighbor infatuated with FBI man turn into her being a doll and then deftly removed from the show in a way that also got FBI man involved with the inner workings of the dollhouse (although watching him walk is painfully like watching a duck billed platypus strolling - guess it's his marshall arts training that keeps him walking on his toes instead of his full foot). I wasn't as into Echo show after show, so I was more interested when I saw greater focus on two of the other operatives coming into play. I thought what started out as a one character, possibly two character, based show was becoming intriguing as it seemed to be headed into a more balanced multi-character series. There are so many more places to take it, and I believe they would have if granted more seasons and given greater promotion.
More+
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Nov 17, 2009
I'll second that and add in a dash of "Firefly, anyone?"



>>Incorrect. While the show had problems building up in the beginning (Largely due to Fox's continual interference) it was not pushed by the network and put into a deadly timeslot. Fox plays with genre shows like this all the time. Even Fringe, they took from a successful timeslot and screwed it by moving it to Thursdays. They screwed Terminator as well (No it wasn't for Dollhouse. The screws were in for that show long before DH came around). If a network isn't behind a show it will not make it. Fox was never behind DH, never behind Terminator, never behind Arrested Development. They do nothing for the show, then complain its not getting viewers. The same ratings on FX would have made DH, or Terminator a hit. Both shows would have had time to develop as they used to get to do. That's what went wrong
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Nov 17, 2009
Incorrect.
While the show had problems building up in the beginning (Largely due to Fox's continual interference) it was not pushed by the network and put into a deadly timeslot. Fox plays with genre shows like this all the time. Even Fringe, they took from a successful timeslot and screwed it by moving it to Thursdays. They screwed Terminator as well (No it wasn't for Dollhouse. The screws were in for that show long before DH came around).

If a network isn't behind a show it will not make it. Fox was never behind DH, never behind Terminator, never behind Arrested Development. They do nothing for the show, then complain its not getting viewers. The same ratings on FX would have made DH, or Terminator a hit. Both shows would have had time to develop as they used to get to do.

That's what went wrong.
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Nov 17, 2009
i have no idea about this show, but my new Favortie FlashForward taking same path i belive.Almost every one of this fife thing fits with FF, so, hope they will correct it.
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Nov 17, 2009
Still can't believe Terminator:SCC was canceled because of this...
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Nov 17, 2009
FOX+Whedon=cancel
Oh Joss, why do you keep returning to your abuser?
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Nov 16, 2009
i hope the next step for joss and eliza is the buffy spinoff we have all been waiting for, angel got a 5 season series, now it is faith's time to get a series.
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Nov 16, 2009
Saw this coming after seeing the path Season 2 was taking .. they should have saved "Terminator:The Sarah Chronicles"
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Nov 16, 2009
I liked dollhouse, but the storyline was kinda slow at start, but everyone wants lots of action and rama. nobody appreciates a good storyline now adays.
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Nov 16, 2009
oh damn that's sad
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Nov 16, 2009
Just looked it up, I was mixed up w/Cabin Fever.
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Nov 16, 2009
Wasn't there just a movie out few years ago called Cabin in the Woods?
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Nov 16, 2009
TV nowadays is all proceduals & stand alone episodes, so I think your argument is flawed in that aspect.
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Nov 16, 2009
I love Joss and I love Dollhouse. I really hate to see it go, but at least it happened now before things got worse? I don't know. There's not a lot of paranormal/sci fi dramas that I really get into, besides Heroes and Supernatural, and even those aren't doing well ratings wise. I like these shows for the stories and the excitement. I just wish things would be better for them in the long run.
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Nov 16, 2009
Only reason I watched Dollhouse was because it came on after Terminator. I was sorry to see Terminator end without tying up the loose ends. So, now it's back to Ghost Whisperer, and Medium.
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Nov 15, 2009
Dollhouse is my and my husbads all time favorite tv show!!! We look forword to fridays to watch it. and if we couldnt watch it that nite we would record it so we can watch it later. Fox should be a shamed and yes i hope another channle will pick it up !!!!
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Nov 15, 2009
the dollhouse, was the best show on fox on fri. , i really love it . shame on you fox , i hate you , as much as i hate the fox news chan. i hope the wb , sicfi , eta. pick this show up ?
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Nov 15, 2009
I, for one will moss it.
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Nov 15, 2009
Dollhouse is the only one of Joss' projects I've not been passionate about. I watch it, but don't freak out if I miss an episode. Let's face it - Dollhouse was no Firefly
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Nov 15, 2009
Dollhouse is the only one of Joss' projects I've not been passionate about. I watch it, but don't freak out if I miss an episode. Let's face it - Dollhouse was no Firefly
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Nov 15, 2009
This seriously just pisses me off! I loved Buffy and Angel and absolutely loved Dollhouse! I didn't see anything wrong with it, I was wishing and hoping that it would make it and ugh it just makes me mad. I blame fox they suck!
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Nov 15, 2009
As an SCI-FI lover i must say that we are down to Fringe and Lost. J.J. is the man!! And as i said before. Terminator wasnt doing well either. And dont get me wrong I LOVED Terminator, but i hated his writer (JOSH FRIEDMAN). In fact i got happy when it got canceled because i have a big respect for the Terminator Franchise and the writers werent doing a good job with the 2nd season anyway the movies were also mindless shooting (The last one). RIP Terminator. :( Miss Summer Glau. :( I Blame Josh Friedman for the demise of the Terminator Franchise i hope that guy never gets a writing job again.
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Nov 15, 2009
insert thumbs down
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Nov 15, 2009
YES!! You should have kept Terminator instead!
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Nov 15, 2009
NO CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. I mean come on! The main character WAS A DIFFERENT PERSON IN EVERY EPISODE!!! Seriously, Whedon is excellent at character development as is evident in Buffy, Angel, and Firefly. Where was that magic in Dollhouse?
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Nov 15, 2009
Enough, already! Twelve strikes and you're out!!! ;)
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