Joss Whedon speculates on Dollhouse's future and teases the 13th episode

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Joss Whedon, creator of Fox's sci-fi series Dollhouse, told a group of reporters that he's resigned to the show's fate and that a second-season pickup is unlikely, but said he holds out hope for a renewal. Fox has not yet announced its plans, but the show's ratings have been below expectations and it is not expected to be picked up.

"[The chances are] not very good but in limbo," Whedon said in a group interview Tuesday night in Hollywood, where he was sitting on a panel at the Paley Festival presentation for his Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. "Obviously our numbers are pretty soft, and there it is, but we live in hope. I'm really proud of the episodes that are coming out. More than that, I can't really ask."

Whedon also elaborated on the show's storied 13th episode, "Epitaph One," a post-apocalyptic story featuring his Dr. Horrible star Felicia Day, which is not part of the series that will air on Fox.

"The decision had to do with the studio saying, 'We need another episode for our package, and we can't afford one,'" Whedon said. "'Can you do a clip show? Can we show the unaired pilot?' I'm like, 'No, you can't. It wouldn't make any sense. Besides, we cannibalized it for parts. Most of it's in other episodes.' And they were like, 'Well, we really have to have 13 for foreign.' And I said, 'I'll tell you what. I'll shoot a post-apocalyptic thriller that's all on our sets in six days with a cast of four other people, then we'll pepper it with different bits from our regular cast, and we can do it all during the schedule. It'll cost you half. I can do this.' And I was so in love with the idea that I just came up with off the top of my head, and that's what it turned into. It's one of the best episodes we've ever made."

In a separate interview, Day—who revealed the existence of the episode in her Twitter feed—detailed the 13th episode. "I think Joss has said already that it's a post-apocalyptic fighter girl," Day said in an exclusive interview on the red carpet. "That set is amazing. It's a beautiful, beautiful set. I slipped on the floor a lot. That beautiful wooden floor is a little slippery."

When she realized that her comment implies that the Dollhouse set is still intact in the future, Day backtracked. "I can't say that," she said. "I did tour the set. I did visit. I don't want to spoil it. It's pretty exciting. It's the best script I've ever read. When I read it, I was like, 'Are you sure you want me to do this?' Because I was kind of blown away by the role. I think when you see this episode, you're going to really want to see more of this episode."

Dollhouse airs Friday nights at 9 p.m. on Fox.