Probably my biggest complaint about first season Dollhouse was that the creators of the show seemed to be so uncomfortable with their own premise that they spent more time avoiding implications than exploring them—leading me, as a viewer, to constantly say, “Joss, if you didn’t want to go there, why did you go there?”
Turns out I was right about the discomfort but wrong about the source, which is an occupational hazard when you’re a solo novelist judging the team sport that is TV production. The Buffyfest blog has a Q&A with Whedon in which he explains that it was—surprise!—the FOX executives who freaked out:
[Dollhouse] became just a scoach too whore-y. Never had a better meeting, everything was great, then they [FOX] said “so they’re kinda like prostitutes and that’s not ok” Word came down that it wasn’t ok. I wanted to make a show thats about feeling bad about feeling good or good about feeling bad. Fantasy is just that, fantasy. FOX wanted to back away from these implications. Every episode is ridiculously hard because the central core has been ripped out just enough, that we’re constantly dancing around our own premise.
Second season Dollhouse starts tomorrow night, and as far as I know it’s still on FOX. Can’t wait for the Glee crossover episode!