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December 18, 2014

Can the DVR Save 'Dollhouse'?

by Gary Susman, posted Oct 13th 2009 3:30PM
DollhouseEliza Dushku's jill-of-all-trades operative Echo finds new danger every week on 'Dollhouse' but now she has a new ally at her back: your DVR. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Fox has granted the modestly-rated series a reprieve -- and an order of 13 episodes -- because its numbers ballooned when viewers who recorded the show and watched it later were accounted for.

The sci-fi drama's season 2 premiere on September 25 drew only a 1.0 share among adults 18-49 during the show's Friday night graveyard airing, but viewership in that group jumped 50 percent when counting 'Dollhouse's' "Live+7" rating -- people who record the show on their DVRs and watch it within seven days.DollhouseEliza Dushku's jill-of-all-trades operative Echo finds new danger every week on 'Dollhouse' but now she has a new ally at her back: your DVR. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Fox has granted the modestly-rated series a reprieve -- and an order of 13 episodes -- because its numbers ballooned when viewers who recorded the show and watched it later were accounted for.

The sci-fi drama's season 2 premiere on September 25 drew only a 1.0 share among adults 18-49 during the show's Friday night graveyard airing, but viewership in that group jumped 50 percent when counting 'Dollhouse's' "Live+7" rating -- people who record the show on their DVRs and watch it within seven days.

"It's one of the reasons that we brought 'Dollhouse' back; we knew it was DVR-friendly," Fox scheduling chief Preston Beckman told the Reporter. "Hopefully we'll see the overnight ratings increase from week to week. With some shows, you have to look at the bigger picture."

The numbers aren't a guarantee that Fox will air a longer season than the 13 episodes already ordered -- much less that the show will return in 2010 for a third season -- but for now, they represent a stay of execution. "We're going to run all the episodes," Beckman told the Reporter. "We're not saying we're happy with those numbers, or accept them, but we don't have to overreact."

Series creator Joss Whedon is hedging his bets; currently shooting the eighth episode, he's writing an episode 13 that could serve as a cliffhanger – or a series finale. "We'll definitely have closure but will leave some doors open," he told the Reporter.


Watch 'Dollhouse' Full Episodes at SlashControl.com


"Live+7" ratings are boosting the counts for many shows this season. Besides 'Dollhouse,' those shows seeing the biggest gains (as a percentage of their 18-to-49 audiences watching the shows live) are 'Smallville' (also up 50 percent), '90210' (40 percent), 'Fringe' (39 percent), 'Melrose Place' (38 percent), and 'Gossip Girl' (36 percent). Shows getting the biggest DVR boost in 18-to-49 audience share numbers include 'Grey's Anatomy,' 'House,' 'The Office,' 'The Mentalist' and 'Heroes.' [On the other hand, topical series like 'The Jay Leno Show' barely see any DVR bump at all.

Of course, 150 percent of not much is still not much, which is why many industry observers and number crunchers are skeptical that news touting DVR gains for "Dollhouse" in percentage terms mean the audience is increasing enough to save the show. (See skeptics' analyses here, here, here and here.) Dushku herself tweeted a thanks to the viewers who boosted 'Dollhouse's' live rating among 18-to-49-year-olds 25 percent this past Friday over the previous week, but that still means only 2.25 million people are watching the show.

Still, any rise in viewership is good, right? And there's more good news for 'Dollhouse' fans: Whedon has apparently reversed himself on his stance that there be no 'Dollhouse' comic book. Reporting from last weekend's Baltimore Comic Con, io9 quotes panelist and Dark Horse Comics editor Scott Allie as saying that Whedon (whose 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' has also had a post-TV afterlife as a Dark Horse title) had changed his mind about the prospect of making a 'Dollhouse' book. Allie said of Whedon, "At San Diego[Comic Con] this year, he said 'I know how we can do it as a comic.' And that's where we left it."

So at least 'Dollhouse' fans may have that to look forward to – that and the old episodes of 'Dollhouse' piling up on their DVRs.

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