Joss Whedon comes clean about why Dollhouse failed As we ready ourselves for the final episodes of Fox’s Dollhouse, starting tomorrow, the Chicago Tribune‘s excellent TV columnist Maureen Ryan has scored a long interview with creator Joss Whedon, in which he is surprisingly candid about how Fox undercut the show and offers up a bit about the upcoming Dr. Horrible sequel. 

Among other things, we learn that the series finale will be called “Epitaph Two: Return,” that production begins soon and that it will air on Jan. 22, 2010. “Epitaph One,” as we know, was the unaired extra episode from season one that looked into the Dollhouse universe’s dystopian future.

Here are some excerpts from Ryan’s Whedon Q&A:

“The problems that the show encountered weren’t standalone versus mythology [episodes],” Whedon said. “Basically, the show didn’t really get off the ground because the network pretty much wanted to back away from the concept five minutes after they bought it. And then ultimately, the show itself is also kind of odd and difficult to market. I actually think they did a good job, but it’s just not a slam-dunk concept.”

“We got the espionage that the network wants, but it’s the questions about identity that we want,” he noted. “There are other things about the show that never came back, and I didn’t really realize it until the second season—[there were] things that we were ultimately sort of dancing around. … We always found ourselves sort of moving away from what had been part of the original spark of the show and that ultimately just makes it really hard to write these stories.”

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This fall’s 10 most awesome sci-fi TV characters When it comes to TV shows, the stars get all the glory and attention. Sure, we love them (mostly), but often it’s the secondary characters we can’t wait to see. When they get their own rare story, it thrills us and we beg for more.

They don’t have the most lines or screen time, and they aren’t always the prettiest, but they often have wittier dialogue than the stoic hero or heroine, they are always more charming and/or interesting, and they are unpredictable.

Since they’re not the stars and their fate isn’t set, they could die, they could move to Cincinnati, or they could even get beamed onto another series. The best secondary characters have the endless ability to surprise us, and we love them for it.

Damon Salvatore from The CW’s The Vampire Diaries

Played by Ian Somerhalder. He’s hot. He’s funny. He’s evil … though not as evil as he thinks he is, and we love this charming bad boy. The Vampire Diaries wouldn’t be nearly so much fun without him. Sure, Elena (Nina Dobrev) and Stefan (Paul Wesley) are made for each other and yadda yadda yadda. And, sure, Damon and Stefan have had to work together to deal with Logan-the-vampire-on-a-killing-spree lately. But it’s not like we trust Damon to behave himself. … And that’s exactly the way we like it.

Chloe Sullivan from The CW’s Smallville

Played by Allison Mack. For nine years, Chloe has been Clark Kent’s loyal sidekick (you know, kind of like Tonto from The Lone Ranger). In the early days she was in love with Clark (Tom Welling), of course. Eventually she moved on and fell in love with Jimmy (Aaron Ashmore), until things went badly with Doomsday (Sam Witwer), and Jimmy died. Through it all, and her own meteor freak powers, Chloe has been Clark’s right-hand computer genius gal. Until this season. Angry with Clark because he wouldn’t go back in time and save Jimmy (and who wouldn’t be!), Chloe has stepped from behind Clark’s cape and embraced her own abilities as she looks over Metropolis from the Watchtower. Finally, she’s not in love with anyone anymore, and that’s made her so much stronger. After she had Oliver Queen (Justin Hartley) kidnapped in the ultimate intervention and bugged Clark’s farm, we knew things had changed. Chloe’s not that sweet, innocent, little girl anymore. In fact, she’s willing to do whatever it takes for the greater good. All we can say is … it’s about time, woman!

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Why the best sci-fi TV and movies don’t *feel* like sci-fi Last week, I suggested that sci-f/fantasy readers and authors could benefit from reading genres other than SFF. I contended that the quality of SFF stories can improve from exposure to mainstream genres, reduce the barrier of entry for newcomers to SFF, and create an even larger community of fans.

Today, I’d like to illustrate this by geeking out on some movies and TV shows that inject high doses of SFF elements into their stories, yet proved to be completely accessible to mainstream audiences. Some of these stories aren’t usually classified as sci-fi by norms, which is awfully cool: it shows us that SFF need not alienate audiences with a high barrier of entry, and that the surly “us vs. the world” underdog/junkyard dog attitude a vocal few SFF audiences and authors have need not exist.

I’ll then follow up with why I think these SFF-in-sheep’s-clothing stories are so successful, and what we fans (and writers) can learn from them.

  • Back to the Future: A time-traveling DeLorean. Often found in the comedy section.
  • Groundhog Day: A loop in the space-time continuum. Comedy.
  • Somewhere In Time: Accessible time travel. Drama.
  • The Truman Show: Super surveillance, for a society of one. Comedy/drama.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit?: Toons in the real world. Comedy.
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    ‘Vampire Diaries’ Star Ian Somerholder Talks Auditioning For ‘True Blood’ & Loving His Girlfriend Hey Ian Somerhalder: please stop talking about your girlfriend. Especially when you’re being interviewed for Newsweek’s “7 Things” video series, and the questions you’re being asked really have nothing to do with your special lady friend. I’m sure she’s smart and funny and absolutely gorgeous (I hope you wouldn’t settle for anything less), but I don’t need to hear about her anymore. This way, I can pretend that our eight-year age difference won’t matter when we finally meet and fall desperately in love. I mean what? Oh yeah, seven things we need to know about the guy, besides the unofficial number one (he loves his GF).

    Apparently Ian sat down and thought about what he could reveal about himself that would make me love him even more, and his list reads more like a parody of a beefcake calendar than an actual list of facts about him. He is “obsessed with saving stray animals” (…with his girlfriend). He’s an advocate of conservation and saving the environment — he even modeled as a kid for a calendar encouraging children to conserve energy. His tattoo says “here and now” in Latin. (Picture him saying these things with that adorable smile and his hands awkwardly in his pockets. Swoon.)

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    I think Ian Somerhalder looks better as Damon than Jason, good thing he didn’t get the role 😉 Dollhouse you’ll be missed by your fans, but there’s nothing we can do.

    What do you think of all this?