Wonderfalls - complete viewers collection review by The Grim Ringler

Sometimes you cant help but hate American television. Sure, sure, you get some fun shows once in a while. And heck, what other nation might have given us Greatest American Hero? But there come times when you just want to scream. When you find a show thats so clever, so original, and so damned engaging that you feel cheated when it gets pulled from the networks, and sick to know it never really got a full chance at finding its audience. Such is the case for Wonderfalls, an adorable play on the Joan of Arc story focusing on a young woman with a very odd gift. Given a brief life on Fox, this is definitely one of those shows that needed a lot of love, some patience, and half a chance to find its groove. Hell, in the least, the network should have at least played out the thirteen episodes that make up this collection, as, if this is all we get, it aint a bad little series. Short and sweet and leaving you desperate for moreyet at a good place with where it leaves off.

Wonderfalls follows Jaye (the amazing Caroline Dhavernas), a young woman with a philosophy degree from Brown University, a loving and eccentric family of over-achievers, and no drive to succeed herself. Its as if she were the very encyclopedia definition of slacker and was proud of that fact as she squanders her degree and works at a souvenir stand in Niagara Falls. All this changes for Jaye when, out of the blue one day at work, a damaged plastic lion from a broken vending machine begins speaking to her, imploring her to do its bidding. She is frightened at first but complies, hoping she is having a sode (episode for us not in the loop types) and that if she does what the half-melted wax lion says it will shut the hell up. When it doesnt though Jaye, accepting that she is crazy, begins asking why, why, why is she hearing little inanimate animals speaking to her and demanding that she do things for them. Jaye tries to ignore the voices but when they refuse to stop speaking she has no choice but to do as they wish, even when it puts her job, happiness, sanity, and heart on the line. Every task she completes, every task she finishes, no matter how odd (say licking a light switch in her shrinks office) starts a chain reaction of events that, in the end, miraculously, lead to happinessfor everyone but Jaye. Jaye, well, she hates it. She doesnt see this as a gift, though gift it may be, and hates the idea that she is helping people. Jaded, angry, and happy as such, the worst thing that could happen in Jayes mind is for her to become a baby-saver, which she becomes at one point, or basically someone who helps others. Worse yet is when the new bartender in town, a man just married but having left his new bride after hed found her servicing the bell-hop in the honeymoon suite, who doesnt care that Jayes distant and damaged and snarkyhe still likes her. For her. So here we have Jaye, beautiful and damaged, twenty-four and living neutral, wanting nothing more than lead her life, drink her beers, work her pointless retail job, live behind her walls, and mind her own business thrust into playing the part of Seer and prophet, slave, like Joan of Arc, to voices no one can hear but she, and unable to discern who it is thats speaking to her. What we have in these thirteen episodes though is a wonderful story arc that finds Jaye slowly accepting her gift and trying to come to grips with the fact that maybe she isnt as selfish and self-centered as she wishes she were. That maybe shes ready for her walls to come down. And that maybe she really does love her family and maybe, just maybe that bartender as well.

This is one of the funniest and sweetest comedies I have ever seen. Its labeled with the dreaded dramedy tag but for me, its a comedy, pure and simple. We forget that sometimes the best comedy is the stuff that hurts us as we laugh. Thats this show. Its wonderful to watch the character of Jaye open up to the world, to her gift, and to open her heart to her family and her budding love interest. But it would seem that Fate has other plans for her. As the season wears one the voices begin to cheerily tell Jaye that she has to help her bartender get back with his estranged wife, a thing that would shatter her just opening heart to do. And its this sort of storytelling that makes this show so special. The talking knick-knacks seems at first blush like nothing short of a gimmick, but becomes the literal deus ex machine, the god in the machine that pushes Jaye to do the right thing, even when it feels wrong. Brilliantly cast with actors that create people, not characters, and written with wit and grace, this is the sort of show that doesnt come along very often. My guess is that Fox, and too man others saw the show Joan of Arcadia and asked do we need two Joan of Arc television shows? but sadly thats looking at the name of the door and now who is behind it. I am sure that Wonderfalls shares some sort of connection with Joan of Arcadia but hell, thats like saying that all the doctor and crime shows are the same. Well, ok, that might be fair, but so what? I will say that I can live with these scant thirteen shows. I love the story arc, I love the character arcs, and I love that it gives us what we wanted, if you bought into the show, and that it leaves you on the precipice of more. You want more but can live with this.

Its rare that a show makes you laugh your ass off, yet leaves you teary eyed at the end of the series, and neither emotion, neither feeling feels false or forced. Its hard not to fall in love with Jaye and Wonderfalls itself. And its rare to find a show where you see a character change, grow, and dont feel as if the writers force it. It takes most of the thirteen episodes for Jaye to come to a place where she is willing to accept, if begrudgingly, her gift. Willing to find out where it leads.

There are a lot of awful shows on television. A lot of wastes of television time. A lot of shows that dammit, are nothing more than repeats of what the hell else is on. Its a shame that such an original and intriguing show as Wonderfalls has to be cancelled before it can even find its voice. Thankfully though we have this DVD collection, a sort of love letter to the show, and to its fans, which I hope will grow now that we can all sit down and take the entire series in. Kudos to all involved in this absolutely delightful and painfully brilliant show. It died to young but I am glad we got what we got.

Highly recommended and one of the best shows I have ever seen.


9 out of 10 Jackasses
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