Thursday, July 9, 2009


Why must the best shows always be canceled?! First it was Popular, whose cancellation (after two seasons) I mourned in middle school. David Lynch's Twin Peaks was a tough one to bear as well. Then my beloved Arrested Development was bumped after three seasons. Alas, Wonderfalls-- graced by the same director as Pushing Daisies-- was only given one season in 2004.

Shame, and slightly surprising, because the show has many similarities with its far more popular successor. Both Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies have Lee Pace, although in the former he plays the snide, egotistical, and mystically-minded brother of Jaye Tyler, the main character (far from an adorable pie-maker). Both shows have brilliant artistic direction and cinematography. Both shows are some sort of magic-realism, in which the viewer has his or her concept of reality temporarily suspended. In both, one character has what is more or less a magic power, while the rest of the world remains the same. Is it the hand of God? Is it nuclear mutation? Is it schizophrenia? Is it even there at all? Nobody knows. But it's pretty clear that it's something at least more profound than paranoid schizophrenia, although Jaye Tyler does seem quite crazy at times.

Jaye has a... gift. Or a curse. More likely a curse, depending on how you look at it. On the exterior, Jaye Tyler is a sulky 24-year old living in a trailer park, avoiding following her wealthy family to career success by working as a retail clerk in "Wonderfalls," a souvenir shop in Niagara Falls, New York. Once a misanthropic (and even a bit bitchy) Brown graduate and philosophy major, Jaye finds her snarky disposition when she is forced to perform good deeds against her will... by talking stuffed animals. Or plastic animals. Or practically anything not carbon-composed in the shape of an animal. Whether a misshapen lion statue, a teddy bear, or a pink flamingo on the lawn, they tell her to do... things. And if she doesn't follow their demands, they hound her passive-aggressively, refusing to stop talking until she figures out their often extremely cryptic messages, like "Get her words out," or "Save him from her." Pronouns are often the tricky part.

And then in comes Eric, an impossibly sweet and lovesick bartender, and hilarity... and heartbreak... ensues. Watch it! I finished the entire 13-episode season in 3 days' time.

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