The latest episodes of Dollhouse and the final few episodes on the Season 1 DVDs make me wish Joss could work something out with Fox where they agree to two and only two seasons. The early Season 1 “what’s this week’s mission?” business with only minor bits of continuity can’t hold a candle to Joss Whedon at his best. For examples of Joss Whedon at his best, refer to Friday’s episodes of Dollhouse.
One of Whedon’s real gifts is for writing lovable – not likable, lovable – characters whose interactions play out so entertainingly that you’re happy to overlook weak plot points. He needs leeway to develop relationships that aren’t obvious to viewers switching on the TV midway through episode nine. He also needs the support of a network willing to endure low ratings (as when Fox renewed Dollhouse for a second season instead of looking for something else to put in its crappy Friday time slot) knowing that his shows move a ton of DVDs.
Dollhouse gets to go out with a bang after some slow buildup because Whedon and company knew it was canceled with 7 episodes left to film. What would season 1 have looked like with an understanding that Fox didn’t need such disconnected episodes? How much better could Firefly have been if Joss sat down to write it knowing he’d have no less and no more than 26 episodes for the stories he wanted to tell?
A cast of excellent characters with stories that play into a cohesive arc – that’s where it’s at. Without ’em, would I still prefer Firefly and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog to CSI: Hip City and whatever hospital garbage is popular right now? Probably, but they wouldn’t be half as much fun to watch. To each his own, as long as all these guys get great roles now that Dollhouse is finished filming!