TVWeek: The buzz surrounding Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse” has been sketchy. The show shut down production for a couple weeks. What’s going on?
Dana Walden: Trying to tell stories that involve a genre mythology, while also telling close-ended episodic stories, while also developing characters that people are going to want to come back to week in and week out—it’s an enormous, Herculean effort. [But] there’s no one we have more faith in than Joss Whedon.
The midseason opportunity is a blessing and curse. It’s a blessing because you have more time. And it’s a curse because you have more time. There’s a greater level of scrutiny. There is a greater level of intrusion from executives. The bar just keeps being raised because there’s no urgency to put the show on the air, so at no point do you just let go of it and say, “You know what, now it’s time for this country to decide whether this is something that’s going to tap into the Zeitgeist and become culturally phenomenal or successful in general, or not.” Being stuck in that limbo with a lot of well-intentioned executives is very difficult for a creator like Joss.
With [Mr. Whedon’s WB series] “Angel,” we shut that down at the very beginning of the process. There was a creative retooling. We went back up after a little over a month and the show just found the place where the stories were the most interesting and the characters just popped. And that’s where we’ve come to with “Dollhouse.” There’s a very complicated mythology that Joss is trying to crack in a way that’s satisfying to a broad audience but will also satisfy his core fan base who will watch anything that Joss does. This is a big task.
TVWeek: Is the retooling going well?
DW: Absolutely. The first two episodes … are quite good. The third episode is as compelling a script as I’ve ever read. You just fly through it. It’s engaging, it’s exciting. It was the script where everyone said, “You know what, Joss is on to something. We need to give him some breathing room. Let’s take a couple weeks down so the scripts can catch up to this direction.”
(Also, you SONS OF ANARCHY fans have something to celebrate here: a season 2 greenlight. Yay?)