Joss Whedon logged on to Whedonesque this week to gently break the news to fans that he would be reshooting the pilot episode of his hotly anticipated Fox series Dollhouse. Getting a bit of deja vu? That’s because the pilot episode of Whedon’s Fox series Firefly was also reshot–at the network’s request–signaling the beginning of the network’s clumsy meddling with and lack of faith in a show that would eventually go on to be a cult hit with remarkable legs on the DVD sales chart (no thanks whatsoever to Fox).
The new pilot reportedly will be a prequel of sorts to the original, which will then air as the second episode, with a few minor adjustments. Whedon attempted to put a positive spin on the reshoot, which he said was for issues of tone and clarity, but he’s pretty much required to toe that party line.
So is this the beginning of the end for Dollhouse? Ordered just days before the WGA went on strike, Whedon and co. had only two months to write and prep the series, which didn’t leave a lot of time for network feedback to be worked into the process. Whedon admits that he “was in a dark, noir kind of place” when he came back from the strike, which was not necessarily the tone the suits were looking for. And it’s not like Dollhouse is an especially easy sell. Look, I’d practically follow Whedon into fire, but a show about brainwashed prostitutes is treading precariously close to the edge of my personal comfort zone, so what’s a mainstream audience going to think? It’s not altogether unreasonable that the series might legitimately require a bit of fine tuning to hit the butter zone.
The good news, however, is that Fox is making an attempt to tap into the wave of internet interest following the debut of Whedon’s internet musical “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog” (which drew 2.25 million streams in five days) by allowing the creator to produce a series of companion webisodes for Dollhouse. An entire season’s worth of webisodes in fact, one for every episode. The shorts will be released throughout the season and the on-air episodes may even include a teaser for the next webisode. Maybe Fox has learned a thing or two since Firefly after all.