You Talkin’ to Me?

I tell you what sucks. Getting attached to an abruptly canceled TV series. It’s like watching “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and finding out it ends right before the Battle of Helm’s Deep. This is the fate of “Wonderfalls.” FOX drowned it last year after only four episodes. I guess it was barely staying afloat with the heavy burden of succeeding in a Friday night timeslot. After it sank, “Wonderfalls” finally resurfaces in a three disc DVD collection which includes nine unaired episodes.

“Wonderfalls” hounds a 24 year-old cynic named Jaye Tyler. She’s an Ivy League grad but opts to be a retail clerk in a Niagara Falls souvenir shop. The show’s quirky gimmick is that inanimate animals talks to her. In few brief phrases, they give her ambiguous orders, which she reluctantly follows. At the end of each episode, her seemingly random acts combine to have a meaning.

“Wonderfalls” was often compared to “Joan of Arcadia,” which featured a female teen who talked to God’s different personas. While both shows nicely articulated the intricacy of life, “Wonderfalls” had the edge due to a funnier ensemble and more outrageous plots. It’s not that “Wonderfalls” lacked seriousness, but it was wise enough to prevent the drama from weighing down the whole show.

As expected while watching the unaired episodes, the series crazily steers towards greatness. What’s unexpected is that the writers are giddily movie inspired. The brilliant episode “Karma Chameleon” gives a nod to “Single White Female.” In “Lovesick Ass,” Jaye slyly rips a page with a cough a la Detective JJ Gittes in “Chinatown.” The stylish episode of “Crime Dog” is shot in film noir flair. And the moody thriller “Cocktail Bunny” is obviously Brian De Palmaseque. I’m sure if the series weren’t canceled, we could have seen episodes inspired by Hitchcock and Kubrick. Oh man.

“Wonderfalls” was good while it lasted. It just seems more special since it was ousted prematurely. Its theme song contains the line “I wonder, I wonder why the wonder falls.” I think that’s something profound to ponder. We lose a sense of wonder as we mature and wander. As if wonder is only for kiddies. As if wonder can only rise under special effects in movies. The show reminded me to embrace the world’s mysterious ways. For to fear is to practice a form of cynism, no? And cynicism is only for oldies.

Grade: A-

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