Joss Whedon plays with dolls | The Fan Carpet Ltd • The Fan Carpet: The RED Carpet for FANS • The Fan Carpet: Fansites Network • The Fan Carpet: Slate • The Fan Carpet: Theatre Spotlight • The Fan Carpet: Arena • The Fan Carpet: International

Joss Whedon plays with dolls

Dollhouse (TV)
08 October 2010

The legendary Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly) reunites with fellow Buffy alumna Eliza Dushku for the thrilling finale of the sexy sci-fi drama, Dollhouse. An accomplished writer, he has written for Marvel Comics on many occasions, mostly for ‘X-Men’, he will be writing and directing the highly anticipated Marvel superhero team up ‘The Avengers’ set for release in 2012 starring Chris Evans (Captain America), Iron man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Hulk aka Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johnsson) with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Here he talks about his universe and his hopes for the future.



Dollhouse Season 2 and the Complete Collection are available to own on Blu-ray & DVD from 11 October 2010 courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.



In what way is it changing this season?

This season we’re taking a few of the things that — you know, we looked at last season and with a fond farewell, and then we weren’t cancelled. Then we sort of basically took what we loved and then added the thing that we thought it needed.  We loved the sense of identity and the questions about identity.  We loved obviously the cast and wanted to push them as far as we could go.  The big changes are, there was a real sense that there was no family or no sort of center to the show last year and that’s something we’re addressing this season.  Alliances are being formed and Echo herself is increasing cognizance in life real quickly. That’s something that I would have dragged out for a super long time.  But it became clear last season that when people look at Eliza no matter what she is playing; they want her to be active not inactive.  And so we sort of gotten her to take further steps since the Omega event with Alpha in last season with her towards being a more active and actualized person and people have responded to that real well so far.  And we also sort of threw out some of our restrictions.  I had originally not wanted to cast any people that I was associated with because I wanted to make this show its own thing.  This year I’m like, “They’re my friends and it is a time-saving device so let’s just get them.”  And we live with less fear.  We don’t have to worry about being a hit because it ain’t going to happen.  But all we have to worry about is, is the audience compelled and are we following through on the questions we’re asking?  Because the one thing we felt ourselves last year was because some aspects of the show made some of the top brass uncomfortable, we ended up sort of sugar-coating them.  This show has to be a little bit uncompromising and now everybody’s on board with that.  If anybody saw last Friday’s episode it’s super dark.  And yet people thought there was real catharsis and strength in what is going on.  It wasn’t just dark on its own sake.


If you work for TV after this one will it be for FX or a small, cable network?  It must be tough for you, right?

It’s sort of a surprising fact that when a show does really well the network tends to get their hands in there more.  If the show is kind of veering and the network thinks it needs direction.  Our show? We found a groove.  It’s a little groove, we have our fan base, and there are some other people out there.  It’s not big enough and we hope to increase it so that we can stay on the air, but we’re also realistic about it. But, when you are down here flying under the radar the network is a little more like, “You do your thing.”  You would like more of them to respond. Whereas when they have a hit on their hands — and this isn’t about FOX, this is every network — they tend to micromanage more because they are desperate to protect it.



I see. 

As for me, you know, I came to FOX because of Eliza.  I worked with FOX Studios; it has always been a pleasure for me.  I have been with them my entire creative life practically, but working on the major network is different.  And I think there’s definitely a disconnect between what “Dollhouse” is and what the network wants.  “Dollhouse” is a show that I didn’t think of as edgy, but things changed a lot since I made “Firefly.” (Laughter.)   The thing is there’s no place that I don’t like working if you find the communication.  The restrictions of working on a show sometimes – and this was the case with “Buffy” – sometimes cause you to be more creative about saying something that’s dark and challenging and still get it in there as opposed to just being able to do whatever you want.


It used to be that networks would allow shows to have an incubation period and now it seems it’s much more do or die up front.  What do you think has changed that?

Everything has changed.  This has been — actually I feel we’re a little bit rolling back to the incubation years with some of the smarter executives because ultimately, yes, television got into an opening weekend mentality that works in the movies but it doesn’t make sense in television, but they got into it.  It’s like if something didn’t hit right away, they pull the plug on it.  Now that there’s DVD, that there’s streaming, that there’s all sort of other revenue sources and there are different ways to measure the success of something, we don’t actually know how many people watch “Dollhouse” for a couple of weeks because of the DVR numbers, stuff like that.  People are a little more careful in general I think — it got into that everything has become, “Is it a franchise?”  “Do we own all of it?”  “How can we consolidate more?”  None of that of course is good for storytellers, but in the case of “Dollhouse” we — right off the bat we’re not doing huge numbers.  We were building on the lead-in so there is something going on, but we never and, you know, we never really gave them what they expected.  I don’t really think anybody is at fault there.  But they stuck with it and even through this season where we’ve been declining.  We’re still over two million, which is very important to me so I can say, “We’re entertaining millions of people.” (Laughter.) I don’t want to say, “We are entertaining a million and hundreds of thousands of people.”  It doesn’t have the same ring to it.  So if we can stay over two million I’m happy but, again, they’ve been nurturing in this instance and I think you are going to see more of that again.


You use quite a bit of Brits on your shows and you work with production companies in the U.K.  What is the appeal of the British actors and production?

You know, I grew up wishing I was British. (Laughter.) Watching masterpiece theater, swiveling tea and thinking that was all that.  I really was reading Jane Austen, Dickens and I — it came from my mother she was a huge Anglophile and Monty Python, everything that I could get my hands on.  That was most of my childhood was the BBC. And at 15 I went to high school there for three years and screaming back to America, it was weird.  I’m a dichotomist.  But I really do love — I love — I feel very, very much at home in England and I feel very – as much as I ever do anywhere.  And I often don’t try to write towards British, but then somebody British will come in and the sides I’ve written or the scenes I’ve written and I will go, “Oh, that’s why that wasn’t working, because I wrote it for him.”  It’s very weird because I feel like I have my own sort of patois, in fact I get slammed for it sometimes.  It’s Joss Whedon writing, but then sometimes it just comes out really well if you are British.  So, you know, I just — there’s a connection there that is a part of who I am.



You put some Asian taste at the “Dollhouse” office, how does it come, the idea?

Well, partially for me and partially for my wife who lived in China for a year and a half and she also studied abroad in Japan for half a year. She and I both share a love of Asian culture and aesthetics and when I was designing the “Dollhouse,” even before I had Steward Black who was the production designer, my wife is an architect, therefore, I have license to buy all the books that I want on Interior Design and Architecture. And what I was looking for from the “Dollhouse” was a place that was very, very organic and comforting.  So I looked at spas to a large extent.  I also looked at a lot of interesting cutting edge architectural stuff that I saw was in some of my Asian books including the beds on the floor, I had found that there was a whole system of trap doors with bedroom and bathrooms in this one place that I’d found.  I’m fascinated again with “Firefly.”  I’m fascinated with vertical space with things moving differently than just sort of flat across.  I got very tired of “Buffy” Star Trek-esque caves with are all perfectly flat camera dolly-able floors on them.  And so we were looking for something that evoked in anybody’s mind a sense of peace and spas were our main sort of focus, but also just sort of the Zen moment as a thing that you can be creating anywhere in the place since these people were just an embodiment of spirit, they were just living as in the sensation.  We wanted to make sure the sensation they felt was very comforting, controlling, different messages at once but also very comforting and very natural.


Season 1 had a lot on the DVD; a lot of added value content especially Episode 13. Is there anything we can look forward to on Season 2 for DVD?

I think they are going to air them this time. (Laughter.) You know, we’re trying to pump out the shows.  We’re hoping to get some new content in there, but we haven’t really fixated on them…because the show is lower profile.  But we’d like to get some more in there.  Thank you.



Dollhouse: Season 2 Information Page