I just finished watching the complete first (and only) season of the short-lived series Wonderfalls. Although Fox only ran 4 episodes (aka “sodes”) before cancelling it, they produced 13 episodes, which can all be found on the DVD. Great acting, great set-up, great plots. Damn, I wish this one could have stuck around for several years.
Hear! Hear! It was a great show. I watched it when it was on Fox. Acquired the rest of the episodes by means we’re not suppose to acknowledge the existence of on this board and bought the DVDs the day they came out. It was just too good for television.
I must admit I was a little reluctant to try out Wonderfalls when I read about the premise (talking souvenirs?), but I’m glad I gave it a chance. It’s not a classic like Firefly (another gem shot down in its infancy), but it’s nonetheless engaging and likeable – and occasionally brilliant.
The bad: the writers sometimes cranked up the zaniness factor too high – even crossing into Malcom in the Middle territory on occasion. And some of the storylines get tied up too neatly at the last minute; a few endings even feel a bit maudlin, especially in contrast with the show’s unusually cynical tone. But most of the episodes work, and the show quickly finds its voice after a somewhat rocky start.
The good: I love the inspired, acerbic dialog (“We’re all fate’s bitch – you might as well bend over for destiny”). Some of the camera work is interesting too (POV shots from inside a souvenir machine, weird camera angles and tracking shots). The first few minutes of the pilot is a neat little short film all by itself.
Oh, and Caroline Dhavernas rocks. It seems people either love Jaye Tyler or they’re instantly repelled by her. Count me in the first camp. Best female protagonist ever! I hope we get to see her again someday.
I wish the show had been picked up by HBO or Showtime. It was a little too edgy for the networks, and I think the freedom of cable woud’ve allowed it to bloom. I’m not surprised Fox killed it so quickly.
Wonderfalls led me to believe that every show should have an Andy Partridge theme song. It is the only show where I would always watch the opening credits on DVD instead of pressing skip. Tyron Leitso is not the best actor in the world, but he may be the best looking.
If you like Wonderfalls a lot of the themes and ideas carried over to Bryan Fuller’s Dead Like Me. Similar crisp writing, high concept coolness. And it has Inigo Montoya.
Like Ott, Mrs. Cliffy and I are two of the seven people who actually watched the show on first airing. We loved it so we ran out and bought the DVD when it became available. Then a couple weeks ago I found myself catching ot on LOGO – I think it airs at midnight on Thursdays, and that’s when I finish watching the rereun of The Wire, so I’ve flipped over a couple times. It reminded me of how wonderful it is, so the other day I took my DVD’s off the shelf and am rewatching them now.
It’s on repeatedly through the week. They seem to be running it twice a day now, weekdays at noon and 5 PM CST. Meaning they’re burning through the entire run every two and a half weeks. LOGO just doesn’t have that much programming yet, which since it’s a Viacom property I find rather confounding.
I really enjoyed the way they drew the character of Heidi. She was the villian, but it seemed to me that apart from one (really horrendous) mistake, the reason she was the villian was because we’d gotten to like and know Jaye already; had the first ten episodes been about Heidi’s slapsticky adventures of charming but disaffected youth in New Jersey I’d’ve digested the same endgame episodes very differently.
The combination of these two things kinda bugs me about this show. I see Jaye as who Darlene Connor would have been had Roseanne run more than eight years (no it didn’t, dammit). I think they softened her up too quickly. The bitter, bitchy, “get out, no loitering” cynic we first met seemed to have lost her edge by the end of the run. I’d have to watch again to expand more, though.
It felt like the writers might have tried to tone her down as the series progressed, which was probably a mistake, because the main reason Jaye is so likeable, at least from my perspective, is that she’s such a cynical ass who doesn’t give a damn what others think. Jaye was an antihero, and the fact that she performed good deeds only against her will was a great source of humor and a major part of the show’s charm.
I’m assuming people who disliked Jaye, like the people who reacted negatively to Darlene Connor, where put-off because she didn’t conform to the standard female TV protagonist mold (blonde, cute, sassy-but-vulnerable, etc.), and I doubt anything but a complete 180-degree personality makeover would’ve satisfied them. Polishing off Jaye’s rough edges just made her a bit less interesting to those who enjoyed her character. To the writers’ credit, they didn’t tone her down too much – she maintained about 80% of her snarkiness to the bitter end, and I never felt that the character was seriously comprimised.
Yeah, the theme song was strangely catchy, wasn’t it? I’ll have to check out Dead Like Me next – sounds interesting.
Episode 13 spoiler ahead:
Kaylee – I mean Heidi did seem to get the short end of the stick. I would’ve bought the show’s resolution had Bartender Dude stayed with her instead of Jaye. I was conflicted about the ending – part of me was happy for Jaye that she got her man, but another part was disappointed that the writers didn’t take a more daring and mature approach by letting him leave. I don’t know – considering the show’s compulsive avoidance of downer endings, it might not have worked very well…