Thursday, November 12, 2009

The House Is Closed

It was a good run and a valiant effort. I "hmmed" a good bit when the news came out no episodes of Dollhouse would air in November - it's sweeps time, after all and that's when all-important advertising rates are set. But now it's official - Dollhouse will finish its run (the finale will most likely air in late January) but it's gone to the scrap heap of canceled shows.

Whedon has assured fans that we'll know about his next project by the time the final episode airs and we'll see what direction he'll be going in.

Many fans are understandably upset about this, but no one is particularly surprised. Friday night is the "death slot" for network television and Dollhouse never attained stellar ratings. As I've posted here, I found the show to have flashes of nigh-brilliance, but also some anvil-heavy storylines, characterizations, and direction.

Back in 2003, Whedon said in the New York Times interview that his "favorite fictions . . . are about the getting of strength and that's probably the most important theme in any of my work" and Dollhouse wanted very much to be going in that direction. Alas, the path through the woods has been barred by a Fox, but I can't much blame the Fox for acting according to his nature.

Maybe this frees Whedon up a little - they're in the process of filming Episode 11, meaning there are still two to film - plenty of time to jazz things up, especially now that there's no worry about Pleasing the Network Masters. Amazing how freeing that can be. Let's go out with a bang - or at least a loudly slamming door.

Then again, I've always been a sucker for the idea of toys (Dolls, if you will) becoming real - a concept Whedon must have a liking for as well, considering his writing credit for Toy Story and certainly one he's been working with here. So let's end with this from the classic for children of all ages, Margery Williams' The Velveteen Rabbit:

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive.

But the Skin Horse only smiled.