Eliza Dushku, <I>Dollhouse</i> Eliza Dushku, Dollhouse

Calling his latest creation's first episodes mere "baby steps," Joss Whedon is getting the word out that from Episode 6 on, Fox's Dollhouse will be an extra-compelling place to visit.

In a note to reporters (or "Newsly Types," as he puts it) accompanying a DVD of "Man on the Street" (airing March 20) and "Needs" (April 3), Whedon says, "These two episodes represent a much stronger vision of what I consider the show to be."

Thus far, Dollhouse has been met with a lukewarm reception, with Whedon loyalists in particular noting a lack of the author's trademark witty dialogue. The ratings have reflected such a frustration, dropping 25 percent from the premiere to barely 3.6 million heads at last count. (UPDATE: Check out the March 13 ratings.)

But since almost before Dollhouse opened its doors, the buzz has been that the structure of the first five hours was largely dictated by Fox, so as to drive home the unusual concept and morally gray characters. Episode 6, thus has been described as "game-changing," as Tahmoh Penikett's Agent Ballard comes face-to-face — and "fist-to-fist," teases Fox — with Echo (Eliza Dushku) for the very first time.

Says Whedon in his missive, "For me, the question isn't just whether a show is enjoyable, but whether it's more than the sum of its fun, whether it truly touches, surprises or connects with you. These [episodes] may do none of the above — I'm not the boss of your opinion — but I feel strongly that they, and the eps to follow, are pretty intense, and very much worth the watching."

What say you, Dollhouse and/or Whedon fans? Are you prepared to engage with Echo a bit more?