Joss Whedon's weird-brain-science show Dollhouse may struggle in the live ratings, but enough people are watching it on their DVRs that Fox promises to run all 13 episodes of season two. But season two is unlikely to have 22 episodes.
Fox scheduling chief Preston Beckman tells The Hollywood Reporter that even though Fox isn't happy with Dollhouse's ratings, the network plans to air all 13 episodes — although during November sweeps, Fox might have to air something else, to goose up its numbers. Fox won't make a decision about giving Dollhouse the other nine episodes of season two until after the first 13 episodes finishes airing — which means the show still has a chance. But it also means the show will have to shut down production after it finishes shooting episode 13, and then ramp back up if it gets another order.
Joss Whedon tells THR he's currently shooting episode eight, and he'll make sure the script for episode 13 gives fans a degree of closure, in case the show does not come back after that:
We'll definitely have closure, but will leave some doors open. When we got our first numbers, which were bad, the first thing [Fox president of entertainment] Kevin Reilly said was, 'You'll have all 13,' which was great. They're not going to pull the rug out from under us.
Beckman says he didn't want to face the wrath of Whedon's fans for yanking Dollhouse before the end of its current block of 13 episodes, given the fact that he's already pissed off the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles fans:
If you cancel it, you're an asshole; if you renew it and then don't put it back on, you're an asshole. I'm still paying for 'Terminator.' 'Dollhouse' has a small rabid fan base that in the world of social media seems bigger than it is. We gave them another season knowing full well we were going to burn in hell if we pulled it.
It really may not be too late to save Dollhouse — last week's episode, "Belle Chose," did see a nice uptick in ratings, and luckily all of those people saw a much better episode than the first two of the season. If the show keeps improving in both ratings and storytelling, we might just see a second miracle. On the other hand, it's nice to know the show's not planning on leaving us totally unsatisfied. (And I'm betting that closure includes another glimpse of the "Epitaph One" future.)