In Depth

Viewers Give Warm Welcome to Whedon's 'Dollhouse'

Weeks of marketing and years of pent-up interest from Joss Whedon fans helped Fox's "Dollhouse" score a solid welcome Friday night.

The much-anticipated drama notched a 2.0 rating/6 share among adults 18 to 49 during its 9 p.m. Friday premiere, according to preliminary fast national data from Nielsen. It attracted 4.72 million viewers.

While "Dollhouse's" overall ratings were nothing spectacular, the show's 2.0 rating in adults 18 to 49 is a nice improvement over what Fox had been averaging in the fall with gameshow "Don't Forget the Lyrics." Most weeks last fall, "Lyrics" had been scoring between a 1.5 and a 1.7 in the demo.

"Dollhouse" also nearly doubled the ratings Fox averaged last spring with the Friday premiere of short-lived scripted drama "Canterbury's Law," which bowed to a 1.1/3. The early numbers seem to indicate that if Fox wants to program scripted series on Friday, genre fare such as "Dollhouse" is a much better option than a standard procedural.

Two other positive points: "Dollhouse" appears to have held on to its audience throughout the show, and the series built nicely on its lead-in, the relocated "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles."

The latter drama earned a 1.3/5, a bit below what Fox had been earning with "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?" "Terminator" dipped from its most recent original telecast on Monday nights, when the show earned a 1.9/5 on Dec. 15.

Overall, "Dollhouse" ranked second in the 9 p.m. hour, just below ABC's "Supernanny" (2.2/7), but ahead of CBS' "Flashpoint" (1.9/6) and NBC's fading "Friday Night Lights" (1.1/3).

Among adults 18 to 34, "Dollhouse" earned a 1.7/6, coming within spitting distance of "Supernanny" (1.8/7) in that demographic. Fox's marketing of "Dollhouse" and "Terminator" as a pairing of "sexy sirens" paid off with men: Both dramas won their timeslot among men 18 to 34.

Fox executives will be watching the numbers closely in the coming weeks to see if "Dollhouse" can hold on to its audience. If the series can maintain its premiere numbers, Fox may have found itself a Friday night player.

The network had hoped airing the show on Fridays, rather than on Mondays as originally announced, would give it time to find and hold and audience. Mr. Whedon has indicated he's on board with the strategy.