Whedon Shoots Second Dollhouse Pilot?

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Joss Whedon has posted the following announcement at Whedonesque about his upcoming Fox midseason series, “Dollhouse,” starring Eliza Dushku:

Welcome (back) to the Dollhouse. A New Pilot? A New Hope? A Prequel? A Nyquil? What’s the skinny on DOLLHOUSE and why doesn’t this link to anything?

Hi guys. Well, it’s been an eventful week. While all of you have been enjoying (and in some cases, suddenly NOT enjoying) our adorable little musical romp “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” (exclusively available on iTunes!) (And I lied about some people not enjoying it!) I’ve been busying myself with a little something I like to call DOLLHOUSE. Finishing a new episode. Finishing a new… here’s the headline… FIRST episode.

What’s that, you say? A second first? How can such a thing be? Does it defy the laws of all physics? Well, I sat down with Rutherford D. Actualperson to do a quick Q&A and give you all the skinny on the progress of my new series (Available on iTunes at some point one would assume!)

Rutherford D. Actualperson: Joss. You are a legend in the industry, and your forehead is a normal size proportionate to your face. Tell me about the idea behind doing a new first episode. Didn’t you already shoot one?

Joss: Yes, Ruhthie, I did. And it was grand, simply grand.

R.D.A: Then why shoot another? Also, your teeth are whitish.

Joss: I said it was grand, I didn’t say it was comprehensible. I showed some scenes to David Lynch and he’s all, “whuh?” Bad sign. But I kid.

The fact is, I’m very proud of the ep we shot and the series is making me crazy with the excitement. But I tend to come at things sideways, and there were a few clarity issues for some viewers. There were also some slight issues with tone – I was in a dark, noir kind of place (where, as many of you know, I make my home), and didn’t bring the visceral pop the network had expected from the script. The network was cool about it, but not sure how to come out of the gate with the ep.

R.D.A.: So they made you do another. It’s Firefly all over again! Run! For the love of God, HE’S CALLING FROM THE HOUSE!!!

Joss: Wow. Good panic.

R.D.A.: I try. But I am genuinely concerned. Also your smooth skin and elegant hands are making me bi-curious.

Joss: Well, the idea to do a new first episode wasn’t the network’s. It was mine. I understood their consternation, and saw the gap between my style and their expectations, and I suggested I shoot a new ep and make the one I’d shot the second. It isn’t going to be buried, like the pilot of Firefly. It’s simply coming after another, slightly cleaner ep. And because unlike Firefly, it isn’t a two hour epic which introduces everyone to each other, the onus isn’t on the new ep to explain a million things.

The fact is, Fox ordered the series before we shot a frame and then, after the strike, I had literally two months to write and prep the whole thing. Which means simply that the network has to figure out what they might want to tweak AFTER it was shot, unlike a pilot. Buffy didn’t make the fall sched, Angel got shut down when they saw the second ep outline… it’s birth pangs. The network truly gets the premise (this is a whole new crew, as you know), loves the cast, is excited about the show – but they’re also specific about how they want to bring people to the show and I not only respect that, I kinda have to slap my forehead that I didn’t tailor my tone and structure to the network’s needs, since that’s something I pride myself on.

R.D.A.: You’re not just being the good soldier?

Joss: We both know from years of experience that I’m a crap soldier, though I am an accomplished fan-dancer. No, this is a very cold look at what’s going on, and it’s not an Us vs Them. The truth is, I’m in love with this world, and I don’t care how people get into it. I have a million things to say about (and through) all of these characters, and I don’t mind which ones I say first. I think I just turned in a pretty cool pilot script. [Editor’s note: that means someone TOLD him THEY thought it was cool. He has no judgement of his own. This is sad, but on the plus side, it was probably one of his writers, who actually ARE cool. So rest easy.]

R.D.A.: So what does this mean for production?

Joss: We’ve pushed an extra few days so I can prep this bitch within an inch of its life, i.e., read it once more.

R.D.A.: But how will this affect the foundation of the very turning of our precious earth, and by that I mean Comiccon?

Joss: Yeah. Unfortunately, we won’t have a new teaser to show, since we’ll start shooting after the con. People will have to settle for chatting with Eliza and Tahmoh. But they’re likeable folk. (Sadly, Tahmoh only speaks Canadian, though he has a lovely translator at his side, like Isabella Rosselini in “White Nights”.) We’ll still rock the panel, but showing clips is kind of a tradition, so my emoticon doth frown.

R.D.A.: And the first first episode?

Joss: I’ll reshoot a few scenes, but it’ll basically air as is. When I was given seven episodes, I referred to them as “the Seven Pilots”, ‘cause you always have to lay out the premise one way or another in those early eps. So instead of Grumpy, this particular episode will be Sneezy. (Seriously. Eliza fights POLLEN! Sooo sexy.)

R.D.A.: So Eliza’s still a different character every week?

Joss: Often several.

R.D.A: And in the Dollhouse, the amazing-looking facility where all the beautiful people whose memories have been wiped live in a state of unselfconscious innocence, the showers are co-ed? [Editor’s note: the showers are co-ed?]

Joss: The showers are co-ed. [Editor’s note: HOT damn.]

R.D.A.: So nothing of substance has been changed. Shower-wise.

Joss: You are a sad, lonely actual man, Actualman.

R.D.A.: So true, so true. Thank you for talking/fan-dancing to me. Anything else you’d like to add?

Joss: Available exclusively on iTunes! Oh. About Dollhouse? Only that it’s going to be a funhouse ride of excitement, fear, existential angst and co-ed showers. That I love it. Love the writers, love the cast, and already blissfully live in the strange, compelling world of the removable self. Hmm. When I pitched it to Eliza, she said “My God, it’s my life!” But after that sentence, I think maybe it’s mine.

R.D.A.: I guess we’ll have to wait till January to see what you’ve cooked up.

Joss: And I’ll probably keep cooking till the moment I serve.

R.D.A.: Would you hold me?

Joss: Yes, Ruhthie. Yes I will.