SciFi’s Choice

[digg-reddit-me]This comic has been making the interrounds so I though I would say “Hi” to all the new visitors.

If you liked this comic, you can check out more HE comics about: TV, Dollhouse, Terminator: TSCC, SciFi, Joss Whedon, Battlestar Galactica or just browse the archive.

Thanks!

-Joel

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Things are a little crazy right now while I am finishing up a long term commission project (which is due in the morning), so in light of a proper post, I give you these links:

Commenters: So what do you think of the decision to kill one promising but low rated SciFi show, only to save another that seemed to be an even longer shot for renewel?

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72 Comments

  1. While I really liked Dollhouse, especially the last half of it, I still think Fox made the wrong choice. Now granted, I thought it would have been great if they would have kept both of them and put them all together on a night with Fringe.

    However in my book, Terminator was the better show and deserved to be saved (in an either/or situation).

    Can't we trade Chuck for Terminator? it works that way, right?

    • While the concept of a Dollhouse/Fringe/Terminator night sounds great, FOX couldn't do it because their primetime is only 2 hours long (8-10pm)

      I agree, though, that Terminator should have been saved over Dollhouse, especially with the potential for this summer's Terminator: Salvation to create a buzz… a contact high, if you will.

    • Terminator was a better show. It found its footing much faster than Dollhouse and continued ramping up its quality over two seasons with only a handful of missteps.

  2. 1. Terminator should have stayed, with a new m,ovie, and a franchise brought back from the dead I would have promised that it wouldof sky rocketed in ratings. i think it would reach 10 million for a seosn 3 premire, and with the way the seaosn ended, it would either be impossible or really easy for people to pick u p on a season 3.

    2. Chuck for Terminator? No way! Chuck is 3nd best show on TV (Dollhouse number 1, Terminator Number 3)

    • I could never get into Chuck myself. I tried watching a couple of episodes, but it just never really clicked for me.

      Now Terminator, on the other hand, I liked it's last season better than BSG's last two. I will sorely miss it.

  3. It's like that scene in The Dark Knight where both pre-Two-Face and his girlfriend are tied up in separate locations, and Batman can only save ONE.

    I haven't seen either of these shows, but I just haven't cared about Terminator since Terminator 3. Dollhouse sounds interesting though, when it gets aired in Australia I would watch it!

  4. I thought the acting on TSCC was terrible and I hated how they made Sarah a total whiny baby (at least in the first couple episodes, I couldn't get past those) instead of the bad ass she was in T2.

    So yea, the choice suits me just fine.

  5. Bottom line: Dollhouse averaged better ratings this year, AFTER Terminator was given a second season to find its audience.

    Dollhouse was also the #1 most time-shifted show on network TV.

    I would've preferred to keep both, but in the end, I'm happy with the choice.

    • Actually, no it didn't.

      TSCC's average rating was 4.5 million+, 122nd in the demo

      Dollhouse's rating was 3.5 million+, 149th in the demo. DOLLHOUSE had higher ratings while paired with TSCC but dropped like a stone after TSCC was replaced with PB. The final episodes didn't even break the 3 million line in total viewers.

      The only reason FOX kept DOLLHOUSE around was to suck $50 for a 2nd 13-ep boxset out of Whedon's dittoheads. I wouldn't get that attached, were I you.

      • I should've qualified that I was talking about Fridays, rather than saying "this year."

        Dollhouse averaged 3.74 million viewers per episode. On Fridays, Terminator averaged 3.55 million. And of the 9 nights that both shows aired, Dollhouse had more viewers than Terminator on 6 of them (67.8%). Dollhouse also beat Terminator in the demo on 8 of those 9 nights (88.9%).

        Not to mention that the second half of Dollhouse's season got tremendous critical acclaim, or the fact that Fox produces the show and thus has more finanicial control and a bigger piece of the pie.

  6. They should have SO kept T:SCC over DollHouse! The characters are more likeable and smarter, it's an established franchise everyone can watch without feeling stupid, and between S.G. and E.D. in terms of acting like robots, Glau's the better of the 2. There's something about Echo's blank slate mode that's just… boner killing. Also, I've seen Lena Heady naked, & I'd doink/fight alongside that over the Ice Queen of the DollHouse any day!

    • One minor criticism Joel: that last panel didn't exactly explain why Terminator had to die and let Dollhouse live. Or is that just the evil FOX executive's way of doing things? No rhyme or reason to it?

  7. Its tough call, I think before the T:SCC finale I would have picked Dollhouse. But that finale was awesome and opened up so many story possibilities that now I would have to go with T:SCC.

    But really I'm just happy Fox didn't axe both of them.

  8. Mmmm…hate-filled pineapple!

    Lovely strip! Careful about being friends with the Fox exec. Probably wants to play super space cadets with Joel.

  9. I would say I enjoyed watching T:SCC more, and I am sorry to hear it was canceled. Like others, I really enjoyed the possibilities that the series finale created. I've always been a die-hard for the Terminator story (except for the last movie. UGH). I like Dollhouse, but it is the weaker story. I want to blame that on Fox's uber-micromanaging of the show/script? In the end, I was just surprised that Dollhouse got a second chance (as did Amy Acker I would assume!). Pleasantly surprised.

  10. I'm happier this way, mostly because I don't watch TSCC, which in turn is mostly because River is not a fracking robot, she is a marvelous psychopath!

    On a related note, if you ever have the choice between Glau and Douchebox, for godsakes…

  11. if it had been after the first season of T:SCC, it'd be a tougher call to make…but this second season, a few choice episodes aside, was so plodding and listless. and there were only supposed to be two or three characters who are robots on this show, so no one else has an excuse for the occasionally stiff performances. it started to get back on track in the last few episodes, so i was hoping for a miracle…but i'm much happier that the miracle fell on Dollhouse, which hit the ground stumbling but once it found its stride became a better and more compelling show by leagues.

  12. The problem with T:SCC was that FOX showed its faith in it the wrong way. The big problem with T:SCC S2 was that it meandered big-time with Sarah's obsession with the 3 dots. All that came about because FOX extended season 2 to a full season half-way through when the 13-episode arc had already been written.

    It seems Josh Friedman is a great writer if you let him take his time and plan things out, but rapidly trying to fill out 9 episodes to pad a season obviously proved to be his downfall and ratings plummeted through some painful television. Bring on the switch to Fridays and the rest is history.

    If FOX had decided to spend money on 9 more episodes they should've gone for a 3rd season instead – ratings would probably have stayed up, the show would've stayed on Monday and things would be fine.

    Dollhouse probably would've been Fringe's lead-in show then, but at least it wouldn't be on Fridays.

    Ultimately, I'm pleased Dollhouse has been renewed because it will answer the question once and for all: has Joss mis-fired or has FOX done it again. But I can't help but think this entire situation would've been avoided if the ONE time FOX shows faith in a Sci-Fi they did it properly and given T:SCC a 3rd season instead of extending the already-written S2.

    • Shakey.that's the best reasoning I've come across so far, apart from putting TSCC in the Friday death spot, I think fox management had already come to an understanding with Joss and wanted to continue with the cheaper show. Robots and explosions really aren't that cheap.

      • Not that T:SCC had much in the way of explosions or robots, which was kinda the point.

        And I bet it'd take quite a few CG Terminators and HKs to spend the same money as Joss did for that gorgeous set!

  13. Great comic Joel! Love the artwork, and the FOX exc.

    I'm glad they kept Dollhouse. I didn't watch Sarah Connor past the first few eps (which I'm told were the worst anyway), but it did get a second season. I agree that they both should've stayed. Why did it have to be one or the other? The idea of a Sci-Fi Friday block makes sense. I also agree that Dollhouse should be paired with either Fringe or Bones. it would work well with either. But at least they are finally taking DVR ratings & iTunes downloads into consideration.

  14. I can't say many season finale's had me as jazzed for the next season as Terminator did.
    1. TNG Best of Both Worlds
    2. Later seaon finale's of DS9
    3. BSG season finale's
    4. Terminator SCC
    Yeah I actually couldn't think of that many series that had truly brilliant season finale's that left you wanting more.

    • If the Quantum Leap Series Finale had been a Season Finale, then it would have been on that list. Instead they added that terrible line of text and turned what could have been a seriously awesome game changer into one of the most aggravating finales ever.

      The only thing I could add to your list is the Venture Bros. Best season finales ever.

  15. I think it was pretty clear from the way the Sarah Connor Chronicwhatcles ended that there was not going to be a third season (unless we started over in a new timeline, which might have been entertaining). I also think it was odd to kill the show just when it's poised to ride the coattails of the movie, but *shrug*

    I'm super psyched for another season of Dollhouse, especially if it picks up where it left off and we don't have to sit through another half season of "meh-but-it's-Josh-Whedon-so-I'll-watch-it".

    • I feel T:SCC still had legs for one more season. OK, John Connor got jumped into the future and thus bypassed Judgement Day (so that's how he survived!) but he was a nobody. Even though Terminator Salvation is likely to be covering the tale of how John Connor actually becomes leader of the resistance, we still had plenty to cover in T:SCC:

      What was Cameron exactly, was she lying with the "I love you John" bit and drawing on the Alison memories or actually capable of it, what the T-1001 was actually doing with John Henry ("your son may save the world Miss Connor, but he can't do it without mine"), why/how the hell a T-1001ends up being anti-Skynet in the first place, what's with the whole "will you join us" bit and was John actually trying to partner with rogue machines (and therefore what's the deal with rogue machines – T-1001 wasn't the only one?) and, most importantly, what exactly happened to Sarah back in 2008 – it IS the SARAH Connor Chronicles after all.

      I guess we'll never know, especially as Friedman said at the beginning of season 1 he had 4 seasons mapped out…

      • There were absolutely un-tied story threads, but with the majority of the show's main characters removed, I didn't see how they could continue. I'd love to see an explanation of the "will you join us"—I think that was the most intriguing (and possibly smartest) part of John Connor's resistance plan…

  16. The action, acting, special effects in Sarah Connor was far superior to Dollhouse not to mention the sheer marketing and sales involved with the Terminator franchise getting a fresh start. Terminator 4 is going to have a huge box office take and it doesn't hurt to have a HUGE star like Christian Bale in it so the TV series couldn't help but benefit in viewers. Honestly from purely from a business point of view the only reason Dollhouse got renewed is it has more hot chicks thus they figure easier to attract the male 18-35 audience. Not that I didn't like Dollhouse but it was really slow to develop and when they weren't moving the "Dollhouse story arc" along the individual episodes were kinda forgettable.

  17. The reason is that Fox owns the company that produces Dollhouse, and Hulu, where Dollhouse was the #1 show in terms of viewers. TSCC is produced by a non-Fox company so there’s no profit in it but the traditional advertising which is priced by viewers. Dollhouse has side benefits.

  18. To all the people saying TSCC is better than Dollhouse. You are the reason that network tv is stale and uninventive. TSCC had some excellent aspects which bloomed at the end and finally got some humour (too late) from John Henry. Whedon was tied to Eliza and, therefore, Fox too. Eliza doesn't really have the range of Summer Glau (that would have been a Dollhose to watch) but she did ok and Joss developed the show. PS. Massive re-write just before launch, show me a show that can take that and not stumble. The constant struggle with what makes us human, how do you define a person, will the core personality endure, is there a soul, etc, etc. All the people who are watching Dollhouse, if you think TSCC is better, don't sit there and veg out, watch and listen and, this is the important one, think.

    • I do think…I think Dollhouse is a mediocre show. I think all the best writing and best intentions can't overcome bad acting out of the lead actor. I have watched some of the best science fiction get canceled again and again and the fact that people are going nuts over a show where the main character is essentially T&A….you'll get what you beg for….endless trashy scifi that has to always have sexy women plastered all over it so it gets ratings…who cares if they can act.

      • Despite my reply to DrBobbyBobby, I have to play Devil's Avocado here.

        T:SCC is just as guilty for the T&A aspect as Dollhouse, but they did it better…

        Lena Headey, Summer Glau, Thomas Dekker and Brian Austin Green – what a damn good looking cast to appeal to all age ranges, both genders and all human-based sexualities.

        Dollhouse really on has Eliza Dushku and Tahmoh Penikett. Dichen Lachman is actually really strange looking and only becomes vaguely attractive after a half-ton of makeup puts the definition and shape back into her face. Enver Gjokaj doesn't have the same appeal as Thomas Dekker and Olivia Williams, however good looking she may be, does not ooze sex through power the same way Lena Headey does.

        You're honestly saying that Summer Glau was cast as Cameron for her acting ability? She was wooden not metal more times than I care to remember and Brian Austin Green may well want to rid himself of 90210, but he's no Johnny Depp and therefore probably still falls back on his teen heart throb status to get some work.

        At the end of the day T:SCC was sold on as much sex as Dollhouse was, despite the fact that neither show is supposed to be overtly sexy or sexual. The fangeeks out there are instantly sold on River Tam as a robot and Queen Gorgo getting her tits out again to stop Skynet.

        If Dollhouse goes more overtly sexual to compensate for the mostly shoddy acting then season 2 really is in trouble because the show's content simply doesn't need it. I've said it before but I'll say it again, we;ve not seen any sexual activity from the Dolls.

        Yes, Echo got laid in the pilot but that was more of a companionship engagement, not overpriced prostitution. Yes, we had some lip service with Echo returning from an S&M engagement but I suspect that was more powerplay than actual intercourse. The only time we've seen engagements purely for the purpose of sex was Victor and his repeat Miss Lonely Hearts!

        Sexy women plastered all over it? I think not, and certainly no more than T:SCC ever did. Sexy women make up the cast, the show isn't about sexy women in and of themselves, but the sheer nature of what the Dollhouse is automatically means the cast will be the exclusive domain of the "beautiful people".

        You've not going to pay their rates for a heffer, but I'm sure the Dollhouse will cater.

        FOX should never have advertised it sexually in the first place, it's cast a permanent, and uncalled for, stain on its image.

    • Sorry, I'm confused by what you've said there. Are you saying Dollhouse is better than T:SCC or the other way round? Because everything you've said seems to knock Dollhouse.

      "The constant struggle with what makes us human, how do you define a person" is equally valid, if not more appropriate, to T:SCC – John Connor is so sheltered because of his destiny to the point he's not allowed to BE human and therefore is defined by his myth and legend. Cameron, although machine, has the capacity to lie, is a learning computer, has absorbed memories from Alison and perhaps is capable of emotion herself – she may be metal but how is she any less human than flesh in this regard?

      Similarly the whole thing with Jesse's plan to split John and Cameron – in the future she felt John was distant to humanity because he was isolated with Cameron all the time – does this mean to be human you have to mix with other humans? Does that make an emotion-capable machine like Cameron more human than John?

      John Henry's growth too, even T-1001 effectively learning to be a parent to Savannah keep its disguise convincing and the mother-son relationship with John Henry, grooming a champion of the future just like Sarah.

      If you think us T:SCC fans just "veg out" to the explosions (of which there are few) then you're quite mistaken and I strongly suggest you go back an re-watch it because you've obviously missed something quite major.

      T:SCC fell over when they had to pad out 9 episodes when FOX extended the season. The failing is the rushed writing, not the show as a whole. Across the entire 31 episodes, only 8 of them were poor, and only 3 of those were actually painful.

      Dollhouse also had 8 poor episodes (and 2 had nothing to do with FOX's meddling) yet it's only existing for 13!

      That's not to say I'm anti-Dollhouse. Far from it. I see the potential the show has and when it's good it's VERY good. I have high hopes for season 2 because despite the ratings FOX want to know if this can work so they're taking a bit of a gamble.

      Joss now has to deliver, and I'm confident he can.

    • I think it's difficult to really make the choice of which is better (see comic above). I think Dollhouse has funnier writing (Joss Whedon dialogue is right up there with Aaron Sorkin or Mamet dialogue) and I think both shows suffer from bad acting (but both feature good acting). The Sarah Connor Chronicwhatcles has more dramatic writing but not as much continuity of themes across episodes. Dollhouse has a more interesting story arc but had some really bad eps.

      Both feature T&A, I think that's a function of "what sells in Hollywood", probably mostly for the posters and commercials, but neither are about T&A, which is more than can be said for a lot of what's on television (or in the theater) right now.

      Also, I actually like Eliza Dushku and think she was a good choice for the part and has done a good job in it. Amy Acker is a phenomenal actress and early in the season, I was disappointed that she had such a minor role, but I'm more satisfied after the last few eps. Dichen Lachman I can take or leave. Harry Lennix is pretty bitchin', I should look up other stuff he's done.

      The same can be said for actors in the Sarah Connor Chronicwhatcles—there's a mix of good and bad actors, influenced by the script they had to live with.

  19. I'm really bummed, TSCC was that rarity, a show that sucked you in because it had the confidence to move at its own measured pace. That's rare television.

    BB

    • Which is why it failed, I would assume. The suits are looking at the numbers every night, not the big picture. Story telling seems to be the least important factor in network television.

  20. I'd say the answer is simple. Dollhouse is much smaller in scope (the action mostly being confined to a single set with some light location shooting) and therefore is much cheaper to produce than Terminator. I mean, in Dollhouse's season finale, which is generally when a show pulls out it's big guns, the sets included the standard Dollhouse set (which won't cost anything to carry over into season 2), an empty studio stage with a chair and some pipes, an apartment complex, and for exteriors you had a car scene and a generic factory. That's not a value-judgement on the show, I'm just saying that even the "big finish" must have been fairly cheap to produce.

    Plus, anyone trying to decide on which show to renew has to look at Terminator's basic concept (killer robots) and see that it's going to be the more effects-heavy show, which adds to the cost. It's a financial decision, not a question of quality. I never got into TSCC myself, but I'm sure it was good for what it was. Just, you know, it's a business.

  21. I would buy the whole "its just business" excuse if I thought fox had any idea what a successful scifi show entailed. All the incarnations of Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica were budget heavy shows but in the era of DVD sales and merchandising there's no excuse for them to not recoup their cost from those….not to mention syndication. If we've learned anything from even moderately successful scifi franchises is that if you give the fans a good run of a show you will have loyalists who will buy your product and even come back to it 30 years later when you want to reboot it but of course they want instant success and instant profit.

    • I'm not certain that a bridge where all the action takes place, a conference room, a ready room, a transporter room, and a bedroom that can be re-fitted to be anyone's bedroom can be considered "budget heavy". Especially when all the off-ship action takes place on planets that look remarkably like earth. Were there special effects? Absolutely, but they didn't carry the show.

      I can't speak to BSG yet, since I just saw the first ep (after the mini-series, and can I just say, holy shit, why didn't anyone tell me?!), but it seems quite similar: all the action takes place in four rooms and a hallway that can be shot from five different angles.

  22. I like Dollhouse more and more as the season went on, and I was quite pleased with it by the end. But it never came close to being as good as TSCC. I think that TSCC was written with more confidence from the beginning, I think it had a superior cast (Sorry, but the cure for a bad actress is not to give her a blank slate character) and I think Dollhouse has some glaring weaknesses that haven't really been fixed, even in the much stronger second half of the season.

    I didn't watch Fox for a long time, and it has only been in the last couple years that I have started again, because there have been some really good shows (these two, Fringe), but it has seemed really quite apparent that a shows quality and potential has almost nothing to do with how well they treat the show. I'll still watch Dollhouse, and I'll still watch Fringe, but not on TV and not on iTunes. It's a real conundrum. If only there was some way I could watch these shows for free without commercials. Sigh. Pipe dreams.

  23. If you watch them for free without commercials, no one makes money on them and the network treats them worse, then cancels them.

  24. As someone said in podcast #33….TSCC has giant plot holes. I believe that FOX was right to cancel it. T4 isn't going to bomb,but the fans that watch TSCC will ask only more questions to this giant wreck of a storyline.Better to kill it now before they waste more money on a series that everyone is going to hate.

  25. I like Dollhouse. I thought Terminator started out strong but lost itself completely this past season. So… I vote Dollhouse. Whedon has a pretty good track record. I'd love to see SCC come back, but it needs to find in identity first.

  26. I wasn't aware that fox had cancelled terminator, but the decision to renew Dollhouse is great – and the obvious choice. After what happened with Firefly/Serenity, they'd be stupid NOT to renew it. Their offices would be stormed by millions of angry Whedon fans if they hadn't.

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