Joss Whedon: Made for basic cable?

Dollhouseeliza_dlHere’s a question: Why does Joss Whedon keep getting into bed with broadcast networks? With all the recent drama surrounding Dollhouse — Felicia Day twittering that her episode won’t be on the air (it’ll appear only on the eventual DVD), whether the mythical "live +7" DVR numbers are enough to buoy the guttery ratings — it’s enough to make a nerd think. Given Whedon’s past history with Fox, who threw his (and my) beloved Firefly off a cliff, and The WB, whose cancellation of Angel Whedon once likened to a perfectly healthy man dropping dead of a heart attack, you’d think his Spider-sense would’ve been tingling like a muthereffer.

Yes, the circumstances surrounding Dollhouse were somewhat unique — Eliza Dushku (pictured leaning on Whedon with co-star Tahmoh Penkett) came to him with the kernel of the idea, and she had a deal with Fox — but I’m just hoping that the experience hasn’t soured Whedon on television altogether.

Any basic cable network on the grid would kill to have him…and what’s more, it’d be the best thing in the world for Whedon. TNT, USA, FX, AMC, Sci Fi: they’re all doing work head-and-shoulders above anything on the single-digit channels, and I’ll bet they’d guarantee Whedon a full 22-episodes right out of the gate. They’d give him the creative freedom to build the worlds he so loves to build — worlds that need time to gel. They’d promote both him, and his shows — they’d have lead-ins that actually work.

And, selfishly, it’d give me more of what I want: Joss Whedon, on a weekly basis.

Any one else think Whedon would thrive on basic cable? Is there any hope left that a broadcast net can do justice to one of his creations?

Comments (83 total) Add your comment
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  • Rachel K

    I completely agree! I was shocked and so worried when I found out Fox was the network showing Dollhouse. Whedon needs to be on a network that appreciates him and doesn’t stifle his creativity. Fox is like the antithesis of that. You know Fox had their greedy little hands all over the new and “improved” pilot and I’m sorry, after the Firefly fiasco I will never trust them as capable enough to handle Whedon or his shows.

  • krissy

    hell yeah

  • Rachel K

    I completely agree! I was shocked and so worried when I found out Fox was the network showing Dollhouse. Whedon needs to be on a network that appreciates him and doesn’t stifle his creativity. Fox is like the antithesis of that. You know Fox had their greedy little hands all over the new and “improved” pilot and I’m sorry, after the Firefly fiasco I will never trust them as capable enough to handle Whedon or his shows.

  • Shaun

    I absolutely agree, Marc! Even his shows that are now in syndication on basic cable garner new followers all the time!

  • Nate

    I agree. And furthermore I think alot of these guys should look more to basic cable for shows. As a fan I would love to have some of these shows actually get the treatment and care they deserve to build an audience. Networks are so out of wack they don’t give shows chances to grow. I barely get invested in a new show on the networks these days because they are so quick to kill them off. And they just don’t know what they are doing with scheduling the shows either. Fridays really?

  • Snarf

    Wheldon rocks my world. Fox sucks.

  • Billy

    Thank you! This is what I have been thinking all along. Joss Whedon must be a glutton for pain to keep returning to his abusive lover, FOX. He belongs on cable. His brilliant, high-concept ideas deserve a network that allows breathing room and prides themselves on artistic content, not just ratings alone. USA, Sci-Fi, FX, hell even HBO or Showtime. His caliber of work belongs there.

  • K

    We don’t have all the information to blame Fox in this situation, but I totally agree with the idea that Joss should be on cable, where he could have the time and freedom to do what he wants. My question is…if so many networks truly would kill to have Whedon…why didn’t any of the rescue Firefly? Seems like it would have been perfect for Sc-Fi. Andyway, I hope Dollhouse makes it, but I have a feeling that even if it makes it to season 2, it will always have the ‘will they cancel it’ cloud hanging over it. If it were on cable network it could be ‘safe.’ I love Dollhouse and am not giving up on it, but whatecer Joss’s next TV endeavor, I do hope it is on cable.

  • Middento

    This is a GREAT idea! Goodness knows Joss reads message boards and I think Marc’s definitely on to something here. Maybe basic cable can even pick up Dollhouse? (Heck, that might even make me get cable…)

  • Janice

    Perhaps he has shopped shows to cable? His production budgets tend to be a little on the high end… maybe that’s why he sticks with network because they have the bigger money? I don’t know much about the business side of this stuff, but it was just a thought that occurred to me.

  • eyeheartnyc

    While Dollhouse hasn’t completely clicked with me yet, I love this man’s body of work and would follow him anywhere. I would finally get cable if he did decide to go that route. This guy has so much talent! I hate that he’s been so abused by the networks!

  • mel

    I totally agree with this premise, but I will one-up you – how ’bout HBO, Showtime or Starz? Built in audience for Whedon’s product – what is there, like at 3-4 million Whedon faithful? I would pay that extra 15 bucks a month for Whedon on one of the pay channels. Even the best pay channel series dont ever get more than 2-5 million viewers at best (excluding Sopranos of course) and that seems tailor made. Or instead of FOX, why not F/X, Fox’s basic cable channel? Surely, we can’t be the first people to think of this….

  • I hope…

    Joss reads this article! When it was first announced that he was returning to Fox, the only thing I could think was, “Why!?!”
    A cable channel would give him the freedom he needs. The first five episodes of Dollhouse were terrible – and I’m sure they were terrible due to interference from Fox.

  • Jack

    I think whoever at Fox thinks they will ever have good ratings on a Friday night needs to be fired.. they havent had a single shwo succeed. Now as they get 2 shows that can replace Sci-Fi Fridays after the death of SG and BSG they contemplate canceling them? I’d much rather see them on a network that doesn’t need a clue by four.
    As for production values, HBO has crazy production values.. although that would somewhat limit access to the Whedonverse

  • B

    Yes, absolutely. The regular broadcast networks seem to be flailing all over the place, and no new show is safe on any of them. They haven’t managed to catch up to what basic cable has already got figured out in terms of intelligent, interesting programming, and giving those programs a solid chance (w/o expecting massive audience numbers) – even though some of them (most?) are tied to the same parent companies as the broadcast stations. Seems like a no-brainer for Joss Whedon to be on cable.

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