TV Shows You Missed: Wonderfalls
Nobody watched Wonderfalls. It aired on Fox early last year as a midseason replacement. It was an hour long comedy/drama about a smart, disaffected, sarcastic girl in her early twenties who had graduated from Brown University and, completely unmotivated, worked in a gift shop at Niagra Falls. Her job sucked, her family was insane, she kind of hated life and, oh yes, inanimate objects began to talk to her.
Seriously, no one watched this show and it still makes me angry. It received terrible, terrible ratings and Fox, being the jackasses they so consistently are, killed it after only four episodes aired--all of them in horrible timeslots. Thirteen episodes were made, but they didn't even have the decency to air all of them. They just axed it.
I bet you missed it. You probably never watched it. You may not have even heard of it. Or maybe you did hear about it--because it did get great reviews and a fair amount of press when it first came out--but you never got around to watching the first few episodes and then it was gone forever. Or perhaps you did watch it, saw every one of those four aired episodes and loved it as much as I did. If so, then I thank you profusely and I bow to your good taste. Most likely, though, you never saw Wonderfalls.
You made a mistake.
This show is magnificent. The main character, Jaye, is played pitch-perfect by Caroline Dhavernas. She is dry, sarcastic, funny and so, so disaffected. She is completely unmotivated and unsure what to do with her life, quick to use her wit against people and reluctant to become involved with new acquaintances. Yet she is endearing and kind and you can't help but identify with her, care about her and want the best for her, even when you share in her disenchantment with humanity.
Then inanimate objects suddenly start talking to her for no reason and the show really kicks into gear. This aspect of the show is treated with the proper incredulity. Jaye has no idea why these objects are talking to her and initially fears for her sanity. Yet, she eventually comes to realize that the only way to make them stop talking to her and leave her alone is to figure out what they want her to do. What they want her to do, incidentally, is help people. Help strangers, as it were.
From there, the show just gets better. Jaye begins to help people, despite her desire to simply retreat into her own life. The situations are creative and funny and offer ridiculous amounts of entertainment. Wonderfalls is simply wonderful at blending comedy and drama, at being incredibly entertaining while also touching on the restlessness and lack of purpose in life that people in their twenties often experience.
The show was guided by the very talented, very steady hand of Tim Minear. He started out on Angel, writing some of that show's best episodes. Based on his stellar work there, Joss Whedon then tapped him to be the co-showrunner for Firefly, Whedon's sci fi/western that also died far too early a death on Fox (a future "TV Shows You Missed" entry is coming on that one).
The good news now is that all thirteen episodes of Wonderfalls--nine of which were never aired--are being released on DVD today. The box set not only has the complete slate of thirteen episodes in anamorphic widescreen, but it also has six commentaries and a couple featurettes.
Luckily, Minear approached Wonderfalls with the understanding--after his experiences with Firefly--that the show might not make it past its initial thirteen episode order. Therefore, according to early reviews of the DVD set and Tim Minear himself, the thirteen episodes of Wonderfalls are essentially a self-contained and complete story, wrapping up loose ends nicely.
If you missed Wonderfalls, now is the chance to correct your mistake. It's a brilliant show that you will almost surely not regret watching. If you watched and loved those four episodes, it's time to see the other nine. Personally, I can't wait to see what happens with Jaye.