Fans of "Firefly" know the sting of network ambition all too well. But now it looks like Fox has finally learned its lesson when dealing with the creativity of Joss Whedon - they will now be leaving the show alone with faith in what Whedon brings to the screen.
"[The mandate is] to keep doing what he's doing," President of entertainment for Fox Broadcasting,, Kevin Reilly, said. "That is really the gift of Joss. Some people can create a good show. Joss was pretty open about those hiccups. I think in the second half of the year, he found the show and started having fun with it. I don't think he was having a lot of fun early on, but he was fantastic to work with all the way through. The fact that he found that, it will be much smoother sailing this year."
Even with the good news that Whedon is back in control of his own show, there are theories circulating the web that the reason for the problems during the shows infancy was actually a direct result of the interference from Fox and that the creator has been made into a scapegoat for any failings in the opening episodes or ratings.
Despite Airlock Alpha's news to the contrary, most viewers had given up hope that the series would be renewed for a second season, and expected the show to become another cult hit to sit on the DVD shelves in the same way as Whedon's space western.
Of course, "Firefly" isn't the first time a series has been forced to change the way it deals with stories for the Fox network. In the mid-nineties, "Sliders" originally premiered on the network and was thoroughly renovated with each season to go with a tone that the network was more comfortable with ... namely, solid science-fiction and little humor.
The first two years of the series primarily dealt with alternate timelines charting stories of "what if this had happened differently" before morphing into an action-themed show for its third year. After season three though, Fox pulled the plug and the series migrated to the SciFi Channel where it reverted to the original alternate timeline idea whilst simultaneously charting the growing inter-dimensional war.
"Dark Angel" is another example of a series that made changes before hitting cancellation. After a critically well received first year, the show introduced a more sci-fi element in the form of half-breed transgenics. Paired with some poor scheduling, the series faced hefty ratings erosion and was eventually hit by cancelation.
Only time will tell if Fox's decision to back off is enough to give "Dollhouse" a third year.
"Dollhouse" returns to Fox on Sept. 25.
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