I had Wonderfalls, the first episode, earmarked for watching later. Months go by. There it is. Wonderfalls, crazy lady talks to statues or something. Lighthearted fun. Niagara Falls locale. Pretty!
Finally, I actually bothered to watch it. The anticipation, right? It was killing you?
At first, I LOVED IT. Oh my gosh!
Jaye, played by Caroline Dhavernas, the main gal who gets talked at by various stuffed animals and little statue thingies– that’s just the Everywoman character that we want to root for. She lives in a trailer, how quirky! Jaye went to Brown, yet she’s working in a gift shop as a clerk! Quirky squared! She’s pretty, young, and sarcastic! Ah!
She’s got a wacky family. Who does not? I wish, frankly and unabashedly, that they’d been the bulk of this show rather than trotted out now and then like show ponies.
The Tylers: Katie Finnerman as Sharon. Lee Pace as Aaron. William Sadler as Darrin and Diana Scarwid as Karen.
Lee Pace as the brother! Those eyebrows. I loved Pushing Daisies, so here he gets to play someone quite different than the guy who can bring dead stuff back to life for a minute.
The older sister, Sharon, an immigration lawyer and a closeted lesbian. She’s also awkward, ambitious, real, a smoker, sort of the one left out in the family dynamics.
The mother, now. At first she seemed a typical shallow WASP mommy type, then she wasn’t. The dad, same thing, then he wasn’t; they grew on ya.
The best friend is not white. She and Jaye do a lot of drinking. She’s sassy, this friend. Real sassy. Mostly a foil for Our Heroine Jaye. Tracie Thoms as Mahandra. Yep, that’s her name.
The boyfriend, played by Tyrin Leitso, a cute bartender whose wife went to town on some bellhop on their wedding night.
Remember this. Because. Yes, I will revisit this one. He’s pretty. And harmless as a Labrador puppy, the perfect foil for our sharp-tongued, snarky, yet gorgeous little heroine. She has a lot of foils around her. Well, two. He is BOYFRIEND POTENTIAL NUMBER ONE. Sort of like Luke over on Gilmore Girls. Well, this one’s scruffy and wears the guy outfit of plaid shirt, jeans, but he’s more puppy than snarling alpha wolf archetype we gals are told we really like.
Now, every episode deals with one of the objects around Jaye who give her rather cryptic sayings that she has to figure out. Which usually leads her to helping someone. Which is not her modus operandi! She’s a quirky, selfish, self-involved, people-hating store clerk, dang it! No ambitions like her go-getter sister! Does not pursue her education, like her brother! She has to open up! Be kind! Help others! She even goes to therapy because people think she’s cracking, because she’s acting nice to others a bit. Yep!
Which is actually funny. The writing remains funny and light enough in tone. There’s that air of whimsy one wants in a talking objects hour-long show. The objects that talk, a lion statue, a brass monkey, the fish at the bar, look natural enough. Whoever did the special effects, well done. Even on a grainy youtube video.
Ah, the brother starts to notice his sister is not acting like herself. The three siblings actually act like siblings. They fight, they hate each other, they get comfort from each other. Jay confides in her brother a bit, then a bit more, then enlists his help to rid her of her little tormentors. There’s also Jaye’s best friend getting involved romantically with Jaye’s brother, in secret. I really liked that pairing. It seemed far more interesting and complex than Jaye and the bartender guy panting politely over each other.
Okay, I’ve hinted at the Jaye and bartender guy blues I so obviously wish to send over the falls in a barrel. Yes, there was an episode on just that, with Rue McClanahan and Louise Fletcher, called Barrel Bear. I liked that episode, it surprised me. Did not go like I thought it would.
But. Jaye and Eric. That’s his name. I forgot it until I went to look something up just now. We get the hunky quiet guy and the obviously quirky sarcasm queen baking a little romance cake for several episodes. It’s building. It’s building. I’m sighing a bit, wondering when they’ll DO IT ALREADY. In the episode about the two macaws, they finally kiss. I think that was the episode. The two rare birds then decide to mate in the sister’s car. Ha ha.
Anyway, we don’t have to suffer any actual triangles or complications just yet. No real villain has shown up to actually disrupt Miss Quirky’s lifestyle choices. Mostly it’s just Jaye fighting her own nature, tee hee. The best friend is salty and honest. The family is weird and quirky and rather lovable. I kinda wish the show had centered more on the family than Jaye.
I’m starting to notice that odd thought more and more in my head. Wish they had centered more on her sister, brother, mom and dad than…um, Jaye. Ahem.
I do like Jaye. Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t sit through the Wonderfalls marathon available if I had not. The actress engages, tackles the material with a right good will and seems to be having lots of fun. So I have fun, too!
Anyway. So Eric and Jaye are POISED FOR ROMANCE. When who shows up??? Yep! That not yet ex-wife of Eric’s, named Heidi.
No offense to the actress, but oh my God, did I hate her the minute she opened her mouth. Her voice. It just. Fingernails on a million chalkboards time. Jewel Staite. As Heidi Ho, as Jaye’s best friend called her. I just flinched. I had a hard time even sitting through the ep. I looked away a lot. Jaye, of course, gets advice that she has to cede the floor to Heidi, not tell Eric how she feelz about him. She’s got real big feelz for him. There’s a literal girl fight taking place. God damn it! Did the writers go out for a pizza or something here? Did they let actual lions write this one?
Eric actually got down to brass tacks with Jaye before all this Heido Ho biznass. Do you like me or not time. Our Heroine froze like a deer in headlights! Cute!
Okay. So, the not yet ex wife shows back up, wants her man back from man-eater, other woman Jaye.
Heidi? She’s awful. Truly so. I zone out so much that if she has layers or can garner sympathy, eh. Argh. Uck. Stop talking, you rat-faced product of a demon and a toy poodle! A squeaky toy brought to life! If I fast forward through her shit, will that help?
She and Jaye rumble. The best friend, who knows Jaye, has warned the bartender guy not to fall for Jaye, as Jaye allegedly chews men up and spits them out every other day. Jaye’s a heartbreaker, ya’ll.
Jaye’s talking posse of stuffed animals, statues and backpacks, even a snake on a shirt, guide her to not tell bartender guy about her FEELINGS. To make it seem she never had any real ones toward Puppy Man. To stand by while squeaky toy Heidi Ho takes center stage in Puppy Man’s life. There’s even Jaye thinking Heidi might be murdering Eric! It’s whacky! There’s ED pills involved!
And Jaye having to cry a lot, pretend she’s not crying over all this and Eric looking SAD a lot as Heidi looks MAD a lot. I also wondered if Heidi has a trust fund. Where has she been all this time? She can now drop everything, hang out in Niagara Falls with no gainful employment?
Oh this is getting long. Okay!
Yes, exactly what we think will happen happens. Eric and Jaye discover they’re each other’s dates for the Prom. By the time I get to the last episode, Caged Bird, I’m just enduring this thing. A repeat of Jaye telling Eric she doesn’t like him. The objects telling Jaye vague shit that she has to decipher. Give him heart! Whatever, caged bird! Yes, Heidi Ho discovering she’s not the one for Labrador puppy. I just. Yeah.
I can pinpoint my disenchantment with this show the minute the not quite ex wife shows up. The growing rift between Jaye and Eric seems oddly artificial and fake. I feel very manipulated.
The show, before this, cutesy a bit. Sure. Whimsy on overload, yes. But I rather like whimsy, and hey, a bit of cute and gentle, why not. But!! Adding that Heidi thing, fuck me with a brass monkey.
I checked out. I rolled my eyes a lot. I skipped ahead a bit, trying to find scenes that didn’t involve this triangle of idiots. I wondered what was on the other channel. Back when people still had channels and not streaming services. Ah, the good ole days.
I’d rather watch an Orange Hellbeast NuNazi Rally in MontaWyNebTexas than endure returning to the Heidi-heavy episodes. Which seemed all the episodes after eight or so.
Okay, I would not. I could not last more than five seconds through those Nuremberg-esque I’m the Greatest, Everyone Else is Shit rallies from hell.
So! I really enjoyed the first half of the thirteen episodes. That’s all there is. This show got cancelled before it could really get going. Sort of like Firefly, Moonlight, and Freaks and Geeks. Wonderfalls has cult status for a reason. It’s well done. The writing is sharp and funny. It’s character-driven. More or less. It’s not like everything else out there. Until the will they/won’t they crap starts up, of course.
Anyway! That’s my ramble on Wonderfalls. Below is the theme song, by Andy Partridge. Enjoy!