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Monday, March 10, 2008

DVD Watch: Wonderfalls, The Complete Series

Let's see if this sounds familiar at all: Fox takes a critically acclaimed or otherwise well received show and, in reaction to low ratings, screws with the schedule and/or outright cancels the show prematurely.

We've seen it somewhat with Futurama and Family Guy, the latter having made a return due to the fan demand and DVD sales and the former now returning to television as well. More specifically we saw Firefly kicked in the kneecaps and the lesser know member of this club is Wonderfalls.

Wonderfalls is the story of Jaye - a socially nihilistic, career challenged, twenty something retail clerk with a philosophy degree, buckets of sarcasm and the unlikely role of being, in her words, "destiny's bitch". A range of inanimate animals, from a deformed wax lion to pink flamingos, start talking to Jaye and giving her obscure, often confusing, instructions. The result is a funny and touching story which unfolds over the thirteen episodes ... only four of which made it to Fox's airwaves (and even those were ... also a la Firefly ... tragically out of order). Jaye is portrayed by Caroline Dhavernas, who by the end of the series convinced me can do more with her eyes alone than most actors can with dialog.

Sadly, unlike their cartoon counterparts, live action shows are pretty difficult to get back on air. Once they close down for production, everyone heads off for more work and it can be hard to get the band back together. Creator Bryan Fuller has already started up again with the also excellent Pushing Daisies, taking actor Lee Pace with him. The only regret I could have after watching this show is that we probably will never see a second season. The story does, however, have some closure by the last episode - so you don't have that nasty cliffhanger aftertaste.


Greg Tannahill said...

To be fair to Fox, the first half of the season is not particularly wonderful. Stories shamble aimlessly around with no particular direction, the opening of each episode makes no particular statements about the scope and direction of that episode, and the deus ex machina concept that's central to the show is an awkward crutch that keeps the main character moving in a not-entirely-believable fashion.

Second half of the season was gold though. I would have watched more like that easily.

Josh said...

Yeah, I'll grant that - but shifting a time slot two episodes in and then cancelling it two episodes later is simply murder to any show.

How long did "The War At Home" last on FOX? I still feel a gag reflex when I think of that show.

The other truth, though, is that sometimes Fuller's work doesn't last as well into multiple seasons. Dead Like Me was brilliant when it started, but began to meander and feel just plain odd by the end. I can't say Wonderfalls would fall to that fate (or that Pushing Daisies will) - but there is something to seeing a good show end on a good note (unlike say, X-Files or Buffy).

Greg Tannahill said...

I actually liked Season 2 of Dead Like Me better than the first one. Daisy A'dair was way more interesting than whatserface from the pilot, and it finally started to explore the "where do gravelings come from and how does it all work" aspect. And then it got canned.

But I can see how you could also think season one was stronger, what with the main character's mum and sister becoming almost completely detached from the plot in season 2.

Josh said...

Yeah, I did like that they were starting to explore the mythos a bit - but it never really connected with me and the whole family soap opera definitely felt detached and misplaced by the end of the show.

And Daisy was a big plus to the show, agreed.