Monday, February 9, 2009

Joss Whedon Talks Dollhouse, Dr. Horrible at NYCC

In a February 8 panel discussion at New York Comic Con, Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly) unveiled never-before-seen footage from his upcoming Fox series Dollhouse and alluded to a possible sequel to his acclaimed web-exclusive musical comedy, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.

Dollhouse, starring Eliza Dushku, revolves around an organization that removes the memories of certain people, called Actives, and replaces them with entirely new ones for the benefit of its high-paying clients. Echo, Dushku’s character is introduced as someone who has reluctantly entered the Dollhouse program— allegedly a volunteer decision—but is then shown in the next scene as a sexy biker at her wealthy boyfriend's birthday party. She’s escorted away for “treatment,” which turns out to be a procedure that eliminates her memories entirely, reverting her to a child-like state. If she says she didn’t want to enter into this program, then why is she putting herself through this?

Whedon told the crowd at the jam-packed IGN Theater that Dushku essentially plays a different character every week, as the Dollhouse assigns her to different clients who pay top dollar for her to be whatever they want her to be.

“Every episode is a pilot ...and she's working her ass off,” said Whedon, who was joined onstage by Dushku’s co-star, Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica), whose character was not featured in the footage. “The cast is phenomenal, and we really get to put them through their paces.”

While Dollhouse has been saddled with a Friday night timeslot, long considered to be a kiss of death for any fledgling series, Whedon assured fans that his partnership with Fox has improved significantly since his experience working on Firefly, which the network notoriously aired out of order and canceled after only eleven episodes.

“The relationship with the network has been completely different,” he said. “They’ve been completely honest, they’ve been totally supportive…it’s been a real collaboration and it’s been a much better experience in that sense.”

When asked about a possible follow-up to Dr. Horrible—which stars Neil Patrick Harris as the titular lovelorn supervillain, Whedon hinted that it’s not out of the question once he has some free time.

“I very much loved working on the Internet—it’s different,” he said. “I definitely intend to pursue both the idea of creating new Internet ventures and the idea of, ‘What’s up with Dr. Horrible?’”

However, for those craving more Whedonesque musical numbers right now, Dollhouse delivers fairly early on.

“Eliza sings in the third episode,” Whedon explained. “She’s actually the backup singer of a diva pop star [and] has a beautiful voice. Somewhere out there, she’s rockin’ ‘Suddenly Seymour’ [from Little Shop of Horrors] on karaoke."

Dollhouse premieres February 13 at 9 p.m.

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