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Buffy mastermind returns with new TV series

Once more with feeling

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Joss Whedon, creator of sci-fi fan favourites Buffy and Firefly, is to return to television with a new series.

Dollhouse, a Fox series starring Eliza Dushku (who played Faith in Buffy), follows a group of mind-wiped individuals kept in a child-like state until they are programmed to carry specific assignments. After each mission - which might be physical, romantic or even criminal - the subjects have their memory wiped clean and sent back to a high-tech lab, dubbed the Dollhouse.

The upcoming show, which sounds like a cross between Dark Angel and The Island, follows Dushku's character (Echo) as she begins to develop memory and self-awareness across a succession of wipes. Fox has given Whedon the go-ahead to make the first seven episodes of the hour-long show at a reported budget of between $1.5m-$2m. The show is the first Whedon has made for TV since Firefly was controversially axed, after the airing of only 11 episodes, five years ago.

Since then Whedon has concentrated on a feature film project, most notably Serenity, a critically acclaimed film following the adventures of the Firefly crew.

Whedon publicly said he'd never work for Fox again after it canned Firefly. But he has changed his mind to be re-united with Dushku, who's co-producing as well as starring in the show. Dollhouse may debut in the US as early as Spring 2008.

The timing of the project is fortuitous since Whedon's rewrite for supernatural triller Goners has become stuck in development hell.

Entertainment Weekly reports that the idea for the show arose during a meal between Dushku and Whedon in September. She asked for advice after signing a deal with Fox but Whedon went far further coming up with a premise and a name for a show, which he then felt compelled to get stuck into.

"We call it a suspense-drama-mythology-comedy-action-horror musical," Whedon jokingly referred to Dollhouse, Entertainment Weekly reports. ®

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