Enter shows like Buffy (which is gone), Farscape (Cancelled), Firefly (Cancelled), Angel (just got Cancelled), John Doe (Cancelled), Dark Angel (Can-Diddly-Ancelled) and Smallville (Not cancelled... yet... but it's also about as quality as Enterprise). These are shows that are offering an alternative with a different Lagniappe! But, guess what... More people are interested in watching NASCAR than something that is... dare I say a filthy fucking word... SCRIPTED!
Then enter Wonder Falls!
Picture an Irreverent Joan of Arcadia trapped in Twin Peaks with more brains than the Average WMD Inspector. Her life is a "Work in Progress" so she's reduced herself to working in a Niagara Falls Gift Shop for a Mouth-Breathing Assistant Manager not even out of High School! Imagine one fateful day a mystical series of strange events empower our heroine, Jaye Tyler (the hilarious Caroline Dhavernas), to communicate with inanimate objects who won't stop giving her advice (like the pundits on Fox News, but with intelligence)!
What follows is a an inventive chain of problem solving events led by our Generation Y Malcontent lead whose sarcasm and timely angst somehow never feels terribly Been-there-done-that.
Executive Producer Tim Minear, of such edgy programming as Firefly, Angel, Lois and Clark, and a little-known and utterly un-impactful show known as The X-Files, manages to keep Jaye's life infused with Scooby-Doo themed Mystery, Wisecracks and more comedy in one hour than your average sitcoms heave on you in three hours! This is that something Completely Different you and John Cleese have been demanding! It's pretty safe to say that Wonder Falls was one of the best and funniest shows to grace television in years.
Naturally, this week, Fox Cancelled it.
Why? What was wrong? Wonder Falls had great charactes from Bill Sadler as Jaye's deluded Dad, Darrin to Katie Finneran as Jaye's deluded sister Sharon to Diana Scarwid, Jaye's deluded mom Karen to Lee Pace as Jaye's deluded brother Aaron. It's hard to stop starin' when you find your self carin' about Darrin, Sharon, Karen and Aaron, Red Baron! Tyron Leitso is also great as the storied bartender hiding from his adulterous newlywed wife! It's Tracie Thoms who almost steals the show as Jaye's equally jaded and intelligent and equally successful best friend Mahandra!
I say "almost" because Caroline Dhavernas is incredible as Jaye. Wise-Cracking and misanthropic, but loveable and funnier than Jonathan Davis Yodeling! And I say "Successful" because, like Jaye's Ivy-League Educated, trailer-park dwelling Gift Shop Clerk, Mahandra is the "Jen Why" equivalent to Carla Tortelli as a worldly wise and disaffected waitress.
Dhavernas's Jaye is probably the least-likely candidate for other-worldly communication, yet somehow (Maid of the Mist, God, Jonathan Davis) someone is communicating with her through inanimate objects to improve the world in a cynical and wise-cracking way... sort of like a post-modern Scott Bakula without the Time Travel!
Possibly the funniest incarnation from Tarnation of an advice-giving Souvenir has been the Deformed Wax Lion who helps Jaye into Sharon's life and Sharon out of the Closet.
One of the most truly interesting things about Wonder Falls is that no amount of Same-Ness affected the show (not that Tim Minear was given enough time to repeat himself). In three episodes there was more unique inventiveness than in a season of anything starring David Caruso, and more laughs than an DVD of Curb Your Enthusiasm!
It's also one of those few shows ever to ride the crest of the wave above Network Television
So, again, why was this cancelled? Ratings! (See Sidebar). While this is both inconsistent and unfair, we're also asking for what we get. By continually tuning in to the same old Cookie-Cutter shows we're telling Fox and the other networks that we want more bland repetition, and we're going to keep getting Bachelorettes in Alaska rather than Kolchak the Night Stalker! I have to say though, that if they decide to burn off the rest of these episodes on the USA Network (like they're doing with the axed-too-soon Karen Sisco), please watch the damned thing. Get the Kids and the Dog and the Neighbors and several Homeless people, and even Aunt Trudy whom you've banned from your home to watch it. You're not just you... you represent a demographic! Show people this show can work, and while the whole run might turn out to be simply a "Preview for the DVD Release" and we might not get lucky as we did with Joss' Firefly getting made into a movie, maybe someone will give another great but dead-on-the-vine show a chance.
22 years ago a little show with no viewership was renewed for a second season against all odds. The network at the time felt that there was potential there and because it was a good show they kept trying and hoped for the viewers that would eventually come. They did. The show was called Cheers, the network, NBC, who would try similar things for the brilliant Scrubs. Sometimes shows need time to find their audience. Nip them in the bud and you'll never know. Fox, you're a fucking gaggle of Sheep Pimps!
And we... we're destined to see more of the same franchised cookie-cutter shows that have conquered out home screen and proven out that "Idiot Box" isn't such a bad expression.
Hell if new ideas are dead, let's re-use some with a J.C. Mašek III flair! How about CSI NICU? It's a CBS show about Infants who solve crimes scientifically while still in the Hospital. Every once in a while Michael McKean can guest star, and maybe Lorenzo Llamas! Then they can all get plastic surgery and marry a millionaire and sing their hearts out to become the next American Idle just before getting voted off of the NICU floor! Brilliant! Call Mark Burnett!
Four and a half Stars out of Five for Wonder Falls. Given time and the Fifth Star would have come, I doubt not. Next time people ask me why I'm so irate, why I complain so much or why the glass is half empty, it's because yet another sign of the Coming Apocalypse has been meted upon me. As my infant nephew reaches adulthood he'll have been raised on CSI: Albuquerque, When Intestines Explode and get eaten CAUGHT ON TAPE and Survivor: Salt Lake City!
Overreacting am I? It's just one show is it? CSI and Forever Eden aren't that Bad, aren't they? You've proven my point about societal downfall. I'll be under my desk in a fetal position sucking my fist and crying. Fuck!
Bad Fox, Bad, Bad, Bad...
But click here and you'll find some Foxy reviews!
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