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Fox cuts short 'Dollhouse' (sort of)

Dollhouse_sc-32_0361 UPDATED: Fox has scheduled the season finale of Joss Whedon's Dollhouse, but some sharp-eyed fans have noticed that there's something missing: the show's 13th episode.

The Dollhouse closer airs May 8, titled "Omega," and represents the show's 12th episode aired. But there's also a 13th episode called "Epitaph One," directed by Whedon.

Whedon compatriot Felicia Day (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog) had a role in the unscheduled episode and Twittered: "Man, day gettingworse and worse. Found out my Dollhouse ep, #13 isn't gonna air. Onlyon DVD. Such a great part too. Thx Fox. :( ..."

And then later DrHorrible, the account from Whedon's Web show, replied, "It's true. Dollhouse ep 13 isn't going to air. This makes @feliciaday sad. How do you feel? Why don't share those feelings with FOX?"

Reps from the 20th Century Fox studio and from the network declined to comment, but sources say the network has a different point of view on this news.

One could argue that Fox's entire season order was filled because the original Dollhouse pilot never aired; Whedon reshot it. If "Epitaph One" airs, well, that's like paying the studio for 14 hours instead of 13. Sources also say the story in the "Omega" season finale is more or less Whedon's original vision for how the season would end, so fans watching the show should have some degree of closure.

Except, of course, there's yet another shot episode out there, and it's tough to see Fox not airing the 13th hour of a series that's performing strong in the ratings -- you don't dicker over who pays the bill on a dinner date that's going well.

Despite Day's comment that "Epitaph One" will appear on the DVD, sources say such matters have not been decided yet. It's a pretty safe bet the episode will appear somewhere, though. Unaired episodes typically see daylight nowadays between DVD and online streaming, so the content will likely surface provided the studio decides to pay for some postproduction.

All parties also insist the network has not canceled Dollhouse, though the network declining to air an episode isn't encouraging. The most recent episode of Dollhouse earned a 1.5 rating among adults 18-49, with companion Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles pulling a 1.3. Sources say the odds of Terminator surviving are pretty slim, but the closed-door verdict on Dollhouse is not in yet.

"Omega" finale description: "Alpha's reign of terror continues as his obsession with Echo endangersCaroline's survival. Ballard must make a life-changing decision, andone Doll is permanently deactivated while another's shocking past isrevealed."

UPDATE: Producer Tim Minear posting on Whedonesque, says the episode will definitely be on the DVD and confirms Fox's "we're gonna count the scrapped pilot" stance: "Okay. So maybe I can help clarify this somewhat. Because we scrappedthe original pilot -- and in fact cannibalized some of its parts forother eps -- we really ended up with 12 episodes. But the studio makesDVD and other deals based on the original 13 number. So we created astandalone kind of coda episode. Which is the mythical new episode 13.The network had already paid for 13 episodes, and this included the onethey agreed to let us scrap for parts. It does not include the one wemade to bring the number back up to 13 for the studio side and itsobligations. We always knew it would be for the DVD for sure, but wealso think Fox should air it because it’s awesome."


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