LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Ever since Fox canceled Joss Whedon's 2002 series "Firefly," fans have groused that the network sabotaged the show's chances by airing its episodes out of sequence.
Now Whedon himself is shaking up the order of his midseason Fox series "Dollhouse."
The creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is shooting a new "prequel" episode to serve as the show's pilot. Whedon said he opted to craft a new introduction to the series after meeting with Fox executives, who expressed concerns about the accessibility of the first episode.
"When we talked to the network I got a sense of hesitation about what we had, and I understood why," Whedon said Tuesday on the "Dollhouse" set. "There's a concern about the audience coming into this world. I respect their need to draw in an audience and present this a certain way."
Whedon acknowledged that there are similarities to the "Firefly" experience.
"That's why I hit myself on the head for this," Whedon said. "Having been through this I should know I need to deliver a way to get into a story. These are not stupid people (at the network), and I decided I needed to make a pre-emptive strike. I wasn't going to entrench around my art; television is a fluid process. So I said that I know a way to satisfy everyone."
Whedon said the new first episode will allow him to select from previously shot footage to figure out "the most iconic way from what we had to introduce each character."
Added star Eliza Dushku, "And I didn't get to wear my leather pants in the pilot, so that was a deal-breaker."
In "Dollhouse," a group of people are programmed with various abilities and personalities and rented out for assignments to high-paying clients. They are kept stored in an underground compound that resembles a Zen-like spa. One of the Dolls, Echo (Dushku), gradually begins to become self-aware.
"I wanted everybody to feel like Echo is in this terrible situation, slash, 'can somebody wipe my memory and feed me and put me in a wonderful spa and give me massages too?' " Whedon said of the elaborate set.
The tone of each episode, he added, will shift based on the Dolls' assignment, a tactic that some might consider risky.
"Every time I'm here, I worry that this show is the big mess, that this is the time I will fail," he said. "At the same time you learn to let go of that or not one word you will write."