Fox's Dollhouse finishes its run tonight, and that makes us sad: Not because we necessarily loved Dollhouse, which creator Joss Whedon took a bit long to make interesting, and which Fox handled as it had Whedon's Firefly, even though it picked it up for a second season despite low ratings.
No, what really gets us is that Whedon will once again be off the air, and we will miss his distinctive voice, one that makes us laugh and cry and, sometimes, become giddy with delight.
Here are seven reasons we'll miss Joss and why some network (maybe FX?) needs to hire him again real soon. And we've included some of your comments as well.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)
Once upon a time there was a high school girl named Buffy who became the chosen Slayer for our generation. Buffy was a bad movie that Whedon somehow managed to turn into a GREAT television series filled with humor and teen angst and demons and lovable high school nerds and Giles and a good vamp named Angel and a bad vamp named Spike and Armageddon and world-saving. There was no reason Buffy should have worked, and yet suddenly we began to realize television about high school could be cool no matter how old we were, and this guy named Joss (NOT JOSH) could create amazing drama out of characters NOT talking OR do a MUSICAL (of all things) OR manufacture a sister out of thin air (and make it work) OR kill off a mother OR jump networks AND give us a satisfying ending at the end of it all.
There's no reason Whedon should have continued after his script for the Buffy movie was botched by Hollywood. There was no reason The WB should have picked up a failed movie and turned it around as a television series headed by the screenwriter of that failed movie. But somehow all the pieces fell into place on the right network at the right time with the right creator, along with the right cast, led by Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy ... and the greatest fantasy TV series of all time was born.
As Aumber commented on TV.com, "The end was bitter sweet, an unbelievably perfect ending. We saw that there would be a future for the characters, and it answered questions. I loved that we saw good conquer evil and put an end to the apocalypse (again). Sunnydale is gone but Buffy remains to continue her life fighting Vampires and Demons in the comic books that began in the summer of 2007. Joss, you're my hero."
It was hard not to want more once we fell in love with Buffy, and Angel offered up a darker look into the Buffyverse with a tormented lead character, a vampire with a soul named Angel (David Boreanaz), who'd been Buffy's biggest weakness. When Angel was good, he was very, very good. But when he lost his soul and was bad, he was Angelus, and he was wicked bad. But it was a surprise when Whedon decided to bring along Buffy's lightest-weight characters, Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) and Wesley (Alexis Denisof), for the ride. After we got past the realization that Angel wasn't Buffy, all the characters (new and not so new) started to grow on us, and Angel became a worthy show all on its own.
Buffy and the single-seasoned Firefly left the air, and we embraced Angel because it was all we had left of Joss at the time. Beyond that, Angel became worthy, giving us some truly great storylines, especially for characters we came to love, like Wesley; introduced us to some great new characters (like Amy Acker's Fred); and gave us the wondrous stylings, musical and otherwise, of the green-horned demon, Lorne (Andy Hallett, who died last year). When Angel was canceled in 2004, it would be five years till we'd see Joss' work again on the small screen.
mattsafreak commented, "It has been a long road for us and Angel Inc. We followed them from their humble beginnings through unimaginable events. They made us laugh, they made us cry...heck, they made us FEEL. Alot of folks criticized the way the series ended, but I have to say they simply outdid themselves with this one. As much as I wanted the show to go on, it went out the way it came in; swinging. All along the journey there was one thing that always summed up our crew, they fought the good fight. They lost a few soldiers along the way, but they never stopped. Team Angel, All growed up."
With Buffy nearing its end and the jury initially out on Angel, you would have had to look long and hard to find a Joss Whedon fan who wasn't thrilled at the thought of a new Joss show on another television next (Fox) ... until we found out it was going to be a sci-fi show. What was Joss thinking? He owned all things vampires and demons and fantasy, but why go into alien territory?
Then he started to talk about Firefly, and we started to see promos and possibilities. When Firefly premiered on Fox in fall of 2002, we were thrilled. Joss had done it again, and we knew there wasn't anything he couldn't do. He brought his own brand of humor and depth of character into the show and created a space western that was spun together in the most unexpected ways.
With Buffy, Angel, and Firefly on the air, Buffy the Animated Series in the works, and Joss even doing comic books (such as the far-future Buffyverse series, Fray, on the side), he was one of our own, a prolific and brilliant nerdy hero for people like us everywhere.
And then the ratings tanked. Firefly was stuck on Fridays, Fox meddled with the series' order, baseball took its toll, and for the first time during our love affair with Joss, he and we learned a harsh lesson about the realities of television: that the good guys don't always win. Firefly was canceled after only 11 of its 14 episodes (or 15 hours) aired.
Ajs816 commented, "It's so unfortunate this show was cancelled!!!!! Oh, man. How could anyone not love this stuff? Flawed heroes, doing wrong things for the right reasons. Great special effects, outstanding writing, superb acting. This show is what sci-fi is all about. It tackles the crew's adventures with humor while retaining the seriousness of their issues ... Fifteen episodes and one movie of this series will never be enough."
Even though Firefly died prematurely on the air, its DVDs flew off the shelves, making a follow-up movie a real possibility. The film killed off a few beloved characters, Book (Ron Glass) and Wash (Alan Tudyk), but won a Hugo Award for best picture, a Nebula Award for best script and several other awards. The story delves into the mysterious River (Summer Glau) and the Alliance attempts to retrieve her. Mal (Nathan Fillion) and the gang try to protect her despite being hunted by an operative of the Alliance and cannibalistic Reavers, against overwhelming odds.
In the video above, Whedon talks about how unlikely it was that Serenity got made at all. While the film didn't gross enough to cover its $40 million budget until it hit DVD, it did eventually make back its money. Talk of a sequel has brewed since the film premiered, but at this point that seems unlikely. Still, Whedon did something extraordinary in galvanizing fans to get Serenity made in the first place so that Firefly could get the resolution it never got on Fox.
M. Shepherd commented, "On top of tying up loose ends from the Firefly series, it`s a very good stand alone film. And it's not just flash/bang special effects like most of the gunk put out by hollyweird over the last decade+. It has a good story and a decent plot. Sure it get a bit goofy in spots, but all in all it's a very good film."
Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (2008)
A lot of writers used the writers' strike in 2007 as a chance to take a vacation or write their great movie script. Whedon wrote a musical supervillain/superhero Web series that changed the way Hollywood looked at the new medium. Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is a mix of Rocky Horror Picture Show and the Buffy musical episode, "Once More, With Feeling." The short film was broken up into three acts and starred Neil Patrick Harris as Dr. Horrible, Nathan Fillion as Captain Hammer and Felicia Day as the woman they both love.
Dr. Horrible highlighted all of the strengths of Whedon's storytelling and musical abilities to become an online hit. It was ranked 15th on Time magazine's 50 top inventions of 2008, received the People's Choice Award as favorite online sensation, won a Hugo award for best short-form dramatic presentation and garnered multiple Streamy Awards. And just this week, Whedon won the Producer Guild of America's Vanguard Award, which recognizes achievement in new media and technology, specifically for his work on Dr. Horrible. Past winners have included John Lasseter, James Cameron and George Lucas. If you haven't checked out Dr. Horrible, it still lives on the Web, hiding out in various youtube.com locations (like the one above), and is available on DVD.
Jjjoex commented, "This Web only micro-series from Buffy and Firefly creator Joss Whedon ... provides a skewering of the super hero genre yet rises above simple parody as it tells the story from the point of view of the title character in an attempt to give us a different perspective on the standard hero vs. villain story which turns into a lyrical, almost poetic tale. I believe that maybe five to ten years from now we will look back upon Dr. Horrible as one of the trailblazers that helped break an outdated mold and expand our range of viewing options."
Oh, we were filled with excitement and the aforementioned giddiness at the thought of Whedon's return to TV. He was headed back to sci-fi with Dollhouse, and Buffy and Angel alumna Eliza Dushku was set to star. What could go wrong?
We were disappointed at first, waiting for Dushku's Echo to coalesce into a memorable character, and that kinda happened at the END of the first season. After terrible ratings in season one, Fox amazingly picked up Dollhouse for a second season. Unfortunately, the show continued to hemorrhage viewers, despite improving storylines, and Fox canceled the series during its second year.
To its credit, the network gave the word early enough and committed to airing all 13 episodes, freeing Whedon and his writers to craft a suitable end to the show, and anyone who's been watching in the last several weeks has seen Whedon and his team rise to the level of previous shows with a denouement that is better and explores the true story (which Whedon had delved into during the first season in the never-aired "Epitaph One") about what happens when mind-wiping technology gets loose in the world.
The Dollhouse season finale premieres tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox. While we're bummed about the loss of Dollhouse just as it gets interesting, and we'll surely miss Whedon's presence on TV, will the series go on to movies? Will there be comic books about it? Will Whedon battle all odds and raise Dollhouse from the ashes?
Noelveiga commented, "Ever since the first episode, the concept of the Dollhouse tech has been more intriguing than the series let itself show, and Whedon, both in 'Epitaph One' and in the last stretch of the series, plays with what makes sci-fi fun: a single, relatively minor technology taken to its ultimate social repercussion. Whedon channels Ray Bradbury for his apocalypse scenario, and, again, that's good. Overall, although I admit there was some rush involved in the process of cramming what was most likely a five-season outline into a few episodes, I think we got the best rendition of Dollhouse we could have. Its failure made it better, closed all the threads and made it waste less time in the unappealing (but necessary) period of Echo being a doll sent on assignments. I walk off satisfied, and Whedon gets to work on the next best thing. It's a win-win situation."
A TV future without Joss?
So is this the end for Joss? There's one thing we know about our hero: He NEVER stops working, be it a movie rewrite or going off to direct a TV show.
After Dollhouse's cancellation, Whedon posted this on the Whedonesque Web site: "I'm off to pursue internet ventures/binge drinking. Possibly that relaxation thing I've read so much about. By the time the last episode airs, you'll know what my next project is. But for now there's a lot of work still to be done, and disappointment to bear."
Actually Whedon may not get to experience much of that "relaxation thing." According to E! Online, Whedon plans to direct an episode of Glee, and he has hopes to get a sequel to Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog in the works if he can get actors Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion away from their popular Monday night shows (How I Met Your Mother and Castle).
Beyond all things Dr. Horrible and Glee, "I do hope to create something in this calendar year, as well as do jobs for other people, but I haven't investigated anything besides Glee," Whedon wrote. "That'll actually take a chunk of time. It means a lot to me—I really want to get it right. So that'll eat up the better part of a month, intellectually, so I'm holding out for a Joss Whedon joint."
There's one other possibility we know of at this point. Whedon scheduled a lunch with FX president John Landgraf, which likely means he's pitching something. And the thought of Joss doing a show on FX, where the ratings will actually be big enough to make a network (albeit a cable network) happy ... ah, we're feeling giddy again.
Will it be fantasy or sci-fi or musical in nature? Might he take us back out into space or perhaps cook up another apocalypse? Could it be another series with strong female kick-ass characters? Will he bring back some of our favorite actors from the past?
What would you like to see? And will you be watching the farewell of Dollhouse tonight?