It all started with a simple tweet, when earlier today Felicia Day indicated that the episode of Dollhouse she appears in, titled "Epitaph One," was not going to air on FOX.
Tweets and blogs went wild, and people were getting their pitchforks and torches ready to storm the network. (Again, as Browncoats might recall).
The reality is, there's nothing underhanded going on here by FOX, the TV network. (Yet). They plan to air every single episode they ordered, and the aired season finale will serve as an appropriate season finale.
But there is a more complicated situation:
20th Century Fox is the production company.
FOX is the TV network.
They are two different entities.
FOX ordered, and paid for, 13 episodes. One of those episodes was the original pilot, which Joss and TPTB decided to scrap entirely, though some of the elements filmed for that scrapped pilot (like Victor chatting with Ballard on the roof) were used in other episodes.
So that leaves 12 episodes, and all of those will air on FOX, up to the season finale, entitled "Omega."
However, 20th Century Fox ordered an additional episode for the DVD release of Dollhouse Season One, and that episode was produced. It is entitled "Epitaph One." Details on the plot are murky at this point, and I'm staying as far away from spoilers as I can, but indications are that it doesn't necessarily resolve any huge elements from the 12 eps that will have aired on FOX the TV Network. It could serve as a launching point for Season 2, should that come about, or just be a bonus ep for those of us who purchase the DVDs.
No decision has been made for Season 2 at this point, and it probably won't be until next month.
Mo Ryan has an excellent collection of links to the various reports at her blog here. In that post, she makes the exact same point that I made back in February (scroll down to see my rant about Joss working with the broadcast networks). Bottom line: The Joss we know and love does ongoing, serialized, high concept dramas that just won't deliver the mainstream audiences necessary for sustained life on broadcast networks that can cheaply put out reality crap that brings in twice as many viewers. The numbers back it up.
If Dollhouse was going to get any life for a second season, my best guess is that a move to FX would make the most sense, but I don't have any idea how the production and talent deals with Joss, Eliza and the rest of the gang work, nor do I know interested FX would be. NBC did the same type of thing with their shows and USA (USA is owned by the same parent as NBC, same as with FOX and FX); when they shared Law & Order: Criminal Intent and tried sharing summer airings of Monk and Psych. FX could make A LOT of geeks happy if they took both Sarah Connor and Dollhouse over to FX for 12 - 16 episode seasons.
That aside, as I said in my post and Ryan also urges, Joss's next move should be to cable (Showtime, HBO, FX, USA, TNT, AMC, SyFy or wherever) instead of playing the ultimately futile "numbers game" on a field that isn't titled in his favor.