Who is disturbing the peace at “Dollhouse”?

Recently, production was halted on Eliza Dushku‘s upcoming series, Dollhouse. The show is set to beginning
airing in Jan. 2009 as part of Fox’s mid-season lineup as a lead-in
to 24.

For those who may have missed our previous blogs,Dollhouse is the latest collaboration between Dushku and writer/director/general Renaissance man, Joss Whedon. The Dushku/Whedon partnership of yore resulted in the fabulous character Faith on Buffy and its worthy spin-off, Angel. By extension, it is also partially responsible for my own propensity during college for very dark lipstick paired with pleather pants, so make of that what you will.

But back to Dollhouse: For those of you who haven’t been drooling over the premise for months, it will follow a group of “actives” or “dolls” — people that have had their memories and personalities erased. This way they can be imprinted with new ones for the purpose of being hired out to perform various jobs — fulfilling fantasies, executing crimes, etc. Dushku will play Echo, a doll who is beginning to remember who she is.

I haven’t heard anything on the QueerCon yet, but I’d be surprised if the show disappointed on that tip. The potential is too huge. We were denied seeing Buffy and Faith do much more than grind on the dance floor and share one theoretically non-sexual kiss (cough); I would hope that we won’t be so deprived again!

Sounds awesome, right?

The official story is that production shut down so Whedon could
tweak the scripts and make the show even better. He claims to have
chosen to do this, indicating his directorial duties on the show had
distracted him from his writer-ly ones, and he wanted to take a minute
to re-balance.

Fair enough, though there are anonymous sources
telling media outlets a different story — one that has Fox second
guessing the very premise of the show, questioning whether viewers
will be able to empathize with a character who behaves as she has been
programmed to rather than out of her own free will. One might bring up
another Whedon alum, Summer Glau‘s celebrated turn as Cameron on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, but who am I to backseat an exec?

Whedon himself expressed concerns over the “clarity” of the
(since redone) pilot episode, and sources claim that Fox feels that
subsequent scripts have continued to be confusing. One might be
tempted to site a little oft-confusing show Fox ran for 10 years
called the freakin’ X-Files, but I’m not getting paid seven figures so what do I know?

I know that Fox seems to bank on audience stupidity and has a
history of messing with good shows (the game of musical time slots that Firefly was subjected to comes to mind); but let’s not get ahead of ourselves — production shut downs are fairly common (24 itself just called for a two week break). Hopefully Fox will promote Dollhouse appropriately. If not, there’s already a rabid fan base plotting their “Save Dollhouse” strategy. Let’s hope it won’t come anywhere near the need for that.