Why did Fox pick up Dollhouse and not Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles for the fall television season? Network executives discussed their decisions on those shows, as well as reasons for moving Fringe to Thursdays and other scheduling moves, during a conference call with journalists before today's upfront fall television presentation. Kevin Reilly, Fox's president of entertainment, said that ratings were not the only factor when it came to deciding whether the low-rated Dollhouse would get a second season and remain on Friday nights.
"First, it's a bet on [creativity], and that's something that has never changed," Reilly said. "And I'm happy to say we're doing that. You know how inspired Joss Whedon is. It's a bet on Joss. The DVR numbers are a marker for us, so it is a factor, and we did see an uptick in the ratings from a 1.5 to a 2. That was a pattern for us that we liked, betting on Joss, and I think you're going to see it grow next season."
But is it the factor of "the devil you know," as opposed to the bringing in a new unproven series? ... Not to mention if we'd canceled Joss' show I'd probably have 110 million e-mails this morning from the fans," he said with a laugh. "So that's exactly right. Bet on something that has a core that you believe can work."
But that doesn't mean Fox will accept low numbers on Friday nights, said Peter Rice, Fox's chairman of entertainment. "We think that we can grow the show," he said, adding: "The show became much stronger creatively during the course of the season. Joss feels very energized about it. And we believe in him as a creator. We've had a lot of success in the past, and we feel that he can build the show, and it can grow in the new season ... and that Friday is a good place for it to do that."
As for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Fox executives viewed that series quite differently. "Terminator has completed its run," Reilly said flatly. "And I think it had a nice little run. It was a good show. It was not an either/or [with Dollhouse]. We did see it tailing off a bit. It had a nice creative core, but ultimately we made the bet on Dollhouse for the night. We had some other shows we thought would make a better profile for the night. So that's it for Terminator."