Dead Like Me
"I was fine when existence had no meaning. Meaninglessness in a universe that has no meaning, that I get. But meaninglessness in a universe that has meaning...what does it mean?" - Aaron Tyler
Wonderfalls was a short lived oddball of a show that only aired for four episodes on FOX in 2004, though a DVD set of the complete first season containing all 13 episodes was later released. It was centered around a 24 year old girl named Jaye Tyler who worked in a Niagara Falls gift shop called Wonderfalls. Her life was pretty mundane and stagnant until the day that a smooshed face waxed lion talked to her. It wasn't just the lion either, soon after she found that any inanimate object with a face could talk to her and they all told her to do things (usually very cryptically). Even though she thought that she was crazy, Jaye found herself listening to the muses, helping out a lot of other people, and becoming a better person for it. Much like other Bryan Fuller shows, Wonderfalls had a certain quirkiness about it that you either get or you don't. Apparently, most people didn't and thus this wonderful little show was cancelled well before its time.
Every character on Wonderfalls was unique, fleshed out, well written, and they were all cast perfectly. Jaye may have been the only one talking to wax lions and brass monkeys, but every character had a bit of crazy in them which made the show all the more interesting. The actors all embraced the quirkiness of the show and had wonderful chemistry together. Having Jaye's entire immediate family as main characters in the show really grounded everything, including the more absurd plotlines, and helped us as viewers to understand why Jaye was the way she was. They may have been dysfunctional, but they seemed like a real family and genuinely cared about each other's well being. The storylines were also all well thought out and executed and the dialogue (as with Pushing Daisies) was so quick and fun.
I love all of the characters on Wonderfalls, but my favorite would have to be Aaron, Jaye's atheist older brother studying theology. I love Lee Pace on Pushing Daisies, but I think that I love his character on Wonderfalls even more than Ned. He did great things on this show and him working with that cow creamer was comedy gold. I loved his brother/sister relationship with Jaye and his romance with Mahandra, and I would have loved to have seen where his character went had the show continued, as his crisis of faith was one of the most intriguing plot points. I also love Jaye and thought that her character grew really well throughout the series. She started off kind of annoying and standoffish and became well rounded and likeable by the end, though she still had her prickly charm intact, which was good because it was part of her appeal. The scene with Jaye and the light switch in Dr. Ron's office is also among my favorites for the mere absurdity of the whole thing. On what other show can you have a brass monkey statue tell someone to "lick the light switch", and then have her actually do it (and get electrocuted)?
I only began watching Wonderfalls well after the DVDs came out, and I couldn't believe it when I read that only four episodes were ever aired. At least the first and only season feels like a complete story without any major cliffhangers or unresolved plots, but the worst part about the whole thing was that I think the show really hit its stride in episode five. As with many other shows that have been cancelled unjustifiably, Wonderfalls just wasn't given a chance to prove itself. Had it become a hit and gone on to have many more seasons, it might have worn out its welcome, but I don't think that would have happened. I've heard some of Bryan Fuller's plans for future episodes, and it sounds like the show would have held onto its initial charm for a long while, but I guess we'll never know.
|Character||Jaye Tyler, Aaron Tyler, Sharon Tyler||Jaye, Sharon|
|Episode||Wax Lion, Crime Dog, Cocktail Bunny||Wax Lion, Caged Bird|
|Relationship||Jaye and Sharon, Jaye and Aaron, Aaron/Mahandra||Jaye and Sharon, Jaye and Aaron|
|Muse||Brass Monkey||Wax Lion|