The show stars Buffy alumnus Eliza Dushku as one of several "dolls" whose memories can be imprinted with different skills and personality traits.
According to early figures, the premiere pulled in 4.7 million viewers in the 9pm hour on Friday for Fox. The ratings represent the second lowest premiere audience for a scripted series on a major broadcast network this season, behind only NBC's ill-fated adventure drama Crusoe.
Dollhouse was beaten in its slot by ABC's Supernanny, which drew 6.1 million for the hour.
Earlier, the return of The Sarah Connor Chronicles after a midseason break proved a poor lead-in for Dollhouse, with just 3.7 million viewers in the 8pm hour.
> Tube Talk's 2009 TV Preview: Dollhouse