Uh-oh. That's the first thought every Joss Whedon fan had when the news broke that Whedon was writing and shooting a new pilot for his upcoming Fox series Dollhouse. After all, hadn't we seen this before, and at the very same network? Back when Whedon was launching Firefly, his beloved sci-fi series for Fox, Fox aired the episodes out of order, jerry-rigging a new pilot and (in the eyes of many fans) dooming the series to failure. In a typically jokey post on Whedonesque, Joss downplays similarities, noting that this time, the new pilot is his idea (developed in response to the network's reaction to his original pilot). He elaborates in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, acknowledging that he "hit himself in the head over this" owing to parallels with his Firefly experience. "These are not stupid people" at Fox, he said. "I decided I needed to make a preemptive strike. I wasn’t going to entrench around my art. It is very fluid — the creation of a television show."
Whedon's got plenty on his plate right now; aside from Dollhouse, he's also been promoting Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Now that's over, but — while loved by many — it brought Whedon some surprisingly strong complaints, both from critics who didn't buy the ending and from fans of Dr. Steel, a fictional super-villain whose "followers" are flooding Whedon discussion boards accusing Whedon of plagiarism because their mad scientist also wears goggles and a lab coat. (Also, Joss Whedon, our daughter was watching The Backyardigans this morning, and Austin played a superhero named … Captain Hammer. He was exactly the same as Nathan Fillion's Captain Hammer, except that he was a purple kangaroo with totally different superpowers. Shame!) He hasn't even had time to answer all the e-mails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org! It sort of seems weird to us that Whedon would pile shooting a whole new pilot for Dollhouse on top of this, but on the other hand, it isn't like the guy's afraid to work.
For now, we'd like to take Whedon at his word that the new pilot for Dollhouse isn't the first step in a souring relationship with Fox that will end, as Firefly did, in disappointment and cancellation. Fingers crossed!