Fox says “Dollhouse” is safe for now

The Dollhouse has been saved, sort of. Fox has promised to air all the 13 second season episodes it ordered so far of the Eliza Dushku series. So the rumors of Dollhouse’s early and untimely demise seem to have been put to rest for now.

First, yay! Second, no really, yay! The complicated, mind-boggling (and erasing) universe that Joss Whedon has built has been a slow starter both seasons. But those who continue to stick with the show are rewarded with better and better episodes. Last week’s installment, “Belle Chose,” was the best of the new season and one of the best in the series’ runs, deftly combining the scary and the funny and the truly creepy together.

Fox scheduling chief Preston Beckman told The Hollywood Reporter that they would air all the episode despite the show’s low ratings: “We’re not saying we’re happy with those numbers, or accept them, but we don’t have to overreact … Hopefully we’ll see the overnight ratings increase from week to week. With some shows, you have to look at the bigger picture.”

TV executives not overreacting and looking at the big picture? Wow, did I fall asleep? Did I wake up in an alternate universe?

The show’s fortunes have also been greatly bolstered by huge DVR numbers. Premiere-week DVR data released this week showed that the season premiere jumped 50 percent from its base of a 1.0 rating in the adults 18-49 demo. And once again, Tivo saves the day.

This however is where the good news ends. Fox said it will wait until the 13-run order is over to decide about adding additional episodes this season, or a third season. When a network waits until an order run is over to decide if they want more, that means production has already shut down. So more episodes this season would be highly unlikely.

Joss told The Hollywood Reporter that the thirteenth episode is being written with that in mind, saying: “We’ll definitely have closure but will leave some doors open.” The production is currently shooting the eighth episode.

So what does this mean for fans? It means we don’t have to worry that we’ll be left hanging by the show getting yanked just a few episodes into the season. So we’ll get to see Summer Glau’s debut on the series on Oct. 30 when she begins her guest appearance. Summer will play Bennett Halverson, a “genius programmer for the Washington DC Dollhouse and a woman with a mysterious past connection to Echo.” And, apparently, a barrette.

But this news also means if we want to see more than just those 13 episodes, we need to keep watching, keep DVRing, keep streaming online and keep buying episodes online. Fox needs to see that there is a market for smart, intricate, big question-pondering shows on TV.

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