Okay, watched Wonderfalls, the new Tim Minear-(exec)produced show on Fox. Turned out, it wasn’t what I thought it was gonna be.
The basic notion is that this young lady is talked at by inanimate objects which guide her to help others or somesuch. The advance preview I saw looked like it was going to be a visual treat (and not just because of the lead, though she certainly contributes greatly). I thought we were in Amelie-land, some Northern Exposure, sweet whimsy and magic realism…
I was wrong. That’s exactly what it is. And more.
It’s sweet and whimsical and magical realist and a visual treat and it’s also one of the most smart-ass shows to come along in a while. It’s genuinely (and hysterically) snarky. This show would give Touched By An Angel the fiercest possible wedgie.
The Los Angeles Times on Wonderfalls:
“…the writing is smart, not merely clever…TV is, almost by nature, a medium of constant disappointment: of good performance flattened by bad lighting, decent scripts killed by bad acting, high production values made to look shallow by ridiculous scripts. We are accustomed to these things from television, which because of its short production schedules and budgetary constraints and the need to sell soap is defined by compromise. But everything clicks here…Dhavernas makes the show work so well, you can’t imagine it working without her; she can throw a little boy up against a wall in rage and not lose your affection. “
The SF Chronicle:
it should be noted that the writing on “Wonderfalls” is superb and reaffirms one’s belief that smart people can actually get work produced in Hollywood. Created by Bryan Fuller (“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine/Voyager,” Showtime’s witty “Dead Like Me”) and Todd Holland (“Malcolm in the Middle”), “Wonderfalls” will instead be best known for the talking trinkets. And that’s fine, too, because they say and do funny things and, truth be told, just seem more authentically interesting than God does in “Joan of Arcadia.”
There is a mood in “Wonderfalls” that evokes the best of multilayered television series, from “Northern Exposure” to the good years of “Ally McBeal, ” straight through, naturally, to “Malcolm in the Middle.” But despite being peopled with well-drawn characters and smart, audaciously careening scripts that induce bursts of laughter, “Wonderfalls” gives us television’s — at least network television’s — coolest female.
Yeah, there are some tough cops and sassy wives, there are hip ensemble players and the two funniest and most dangerous moms ever — Jane Kaczmarek on “Malcolm” and Jessica Walter on “Arrested Development” — but Dhavernas (pronounced “da-verna”), imbibes slacker-coolness like nobody else. She may be developing a young crush on Mr. Nice Bartender, but she’s independent and, as much as she can love anything, loving that freedom. Freedom to sulk, mostly. But at least she doesn’t suffer fools kindly, or flirtatiously, like most female characters on TV. She’s dropped out of society. She’s doing retail — and not very well. She’s living in a trailer. She knocks back more drinks than anyone else in prime time, and she’s not going to apologize for the fact that she’s bored with life.
If that’s not a brazenly drawn bit of prime-time heroine, what is? In a Buffy-less world (hell, even a Carrie-less world), Jaye is a godsend. And yes, there is the distinct possibility that the best freshman drama of the year may suffer the similar fate of past Fox series that also fell under that moniker – - cancellation.
But this is the risk that savvy viewers always run with Fox series. The fate of “Arrested Development” is still up in the air, having failed in its underhanded, documentary-styled genius to woo much of the country. That doesn’t mean it’s any less stupendous, now, does it?
Same with “Wonderfalls.” Maybe the country won’t swoon over the whimsical, endearing travails of Jaye, sent scurrying on missions of kindness she doesn’t really want to undertake by inanimate animals that talk to her, making her feel deeply insane. Maybe the country will miss, then, Jaye’s inherent sweetness and other valuable traits of her humanity, focusing instead on her rolling eyes and searingly obvious distaste for tourists, and, perhaps, the rest of the human race. That’s their problem.
Quoting Jaye — whatever. Yes, maybe the underlying intellectual vibes of “Wonderfalls” will go unfelt, or an appreciation for a snappy 45 minutes of televised illuminism will be lost on some people. But not on you, right? You suffered through September, October, November, December, January and February. This is your time to love TV.
I like it. You might too.