June 12, 2005

TV (on DVD): Wonderfalls

Wonderfalls lasted for only four weeks on Fox in the spring of '04, but the three-DVD set includes all 13 episodes that were filmed. I'm not normally one to get upset when TV shows are cancelled -- the business is what it is, after all -- but oh, we lost a good one here.

The main character is Jaye Tyler (played by Canadian actress Caroline Dhavernas), who's recently graduated from Brown with a philosophy degree, but has no idea what she wants to do with her life, and is working as a sales clerk in a Niagara Falls souvenir shop. Her dull routine is shaken up when inanimate objects -- wax lions, stuffed bears, cow creamers, lawn flamingos, anything with a face, basically -- start speaking to her. They always want her to do something, and their instructions always lean to the cryptic; "save him from her," for instance, when there are three or four possible "hims" and "hers" to be dealt with.

The show was created by Todd Holland and Bryan Fuller, who had previously worked (separately) on such shows as The Larry Sanders Show, Malcolm in the Middle, and Dead Like Me. The cast is largely unknown in the US -- Diana Scarwid and William Sadler as Jaye's parents are the biggest names -- but they're all top-notch; Katie Finneran is particularly good, stealing every scene she's in as Jaye's uptight lesbian sister.

High spots include "Barrel Bear," with guest stars Rue McClanahan and Louise Fletcher battling over their role in a piece of Niagara Falls history, and "Cocktail Bunny," a beautifully paced thriller of an episode. It's such a shame the show didn't last, because it just got deeper and richer and more perfectly in control with every episode. (And if you're a Netflixer, yes, it's available there, and you should add it to your queue.)

1 comment:

Maggie Osterberg said...

Thanks for the Netflix tip!!!

I saw a couple of the episodes when they aired and I'm looking forward to seeing more!