The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Three strikes against a potentially great show

High time for prime time
 Three strikes against a potentially great show
Three strikes against a potentially great show

Three strikes against a potentially great show

I’m launching a preemptive strike.

Sometimes the supporters of a “good and just”television show must stand up to the challenges of an evil timeslot on an evil night on an evil network — an “axis ofevil,” if you will — to fight for what’s good,wholesome and all-American on our TV sets.

Fox’s new gem, “Wonderfalls,” is just the showin need of our saving.

The show springs from the creative minds of Bryan Fuller, whoproduced the short-lived, but equally wonderful Showtime comedy”Dead Like Me,” and Todd Holland, executive producer ofFox’s other recent hit comedy “Malcolm in theMiddle.”

It features Caroline Dhavernas as Jaye, a twentysomethingcollege graduate (a B.A. in philosophy from Brown) working adead-end retail job at the gift shop in Niagara Falls, living in atrailer park and struggling to avoid the judgment of heroverachieving family.

If her life didn’t sound perfect enough, after a nastyencounter with a customer, a plastic lion starts giving heradvice.

And the lion’s only the first. Next come the brass monkey,the stuffed lizard and the cute mechanical bear.

With the help of her inanimate animal friends, Jaye reaches outfrom her self-absorbed cynicism and begins to help improve thelives of those around her.

OK, it sounds a bit like “Touched by an Angel” onacid on paper, but God (or whoever is embodying these plasticanimals) acts in mysterious ways.

In the pilot alone (one of the smartest I’ve seen inyears), the animals help Jaye find a rude customer’s purseafter she’d been mugged. And when Jaye goes to return it, thewoman accuses her of stealing it and a hilariously overwroughtcatfight ensues.

The animals suggest that Jaye set up her single sister (KatieFinneran) with the recently divorced and miserable UPS man.

Blind date ensues, sister comes out of the closet as a lesbianto the delivery man, man has an allergic reaction to peanuts in hissalad, Jaye and sister drive man to hospital as his neck expands,deciding along the way to give him an emergency tracheotomy with apen (fine tip or ball point?), man’s ex-wife shows up at thehospital and notices sister with an ink splotch on her cheek,ex-wife licks it off suggestively, and man (now mute from beingpopped with a pen) stares forlornly as his wife and blind date headoff hand-in-hand, but is later compensated with a sponge bath froma flirty nurse.

Not bad for an evening’s work from Jaye and her animalfriends. Perhaps Fuller and Holland should have stuck with theirworking title “Touched by a Crazy Person.”

Throughout, the show features crisp writing and a dry witsimilar to WB’s “Gilmore Girls” andShowtime’s “Dead Like Me.”

Dhavernas nails her role as a disaffected, directionless youngwoman scrambling to define herself in retail hell.

Her sparkling green eyes and flexible wry smile give her strongcomic legs to stand on.

Unfortunately, the supporting actors don’t embody theircharacters with equal ease.

But this may be the fault of substituting caricatures forcharacters. Finneran tries her best to humanize Jaye’shard-nosed-lesbian sister, Susan, but Diana Scarwid and WilliamSadler only play to type as Jaye’s overbearing parents.

I’m also pretty sure the show’s casting directorspicked up Tracie Thoms at the “Generic-Black-Best-FriendFarm” that’s churned out such other bland characters asFrancie Calfo on “Alias,” Elena Tyler on”Felicity” and Renee Raddick on “AllyMcBeal.”

Luckily, these characters have been growing more and morebelievable with each subsequent episode, so there may be hope.

If “My So-Called Life” was the defining show of ageneration of angsty teenagers, “Wonderfalls” providesa rallying point for a generation of overeducated, uninvolvedtwentysomethings suffering through meaningless employment andfailure to meet the expectations of our families.

Oh, and if inanimate objects happen to talk to you as well,that’s one more reason to tune in while sitting in yourpsychoanalyst’s waiting room.

Unfortunately, “Wonderfalls” has three strikesagainst it:

It’s on Fox.

The network execs have saddled it with a horrible 8 p.m.Friday-night time slot.

And it’s a good show. (This is normally a good thing, butsee strike number one.)

So we’ve got to do something to save it.

Set your VCRs, tune your TiVos or just stay at home on Fridaynights and watch “Wonderfalls!”

The revolution will be televised.


Jeremy Roebuck is the layout and design editor. He may bereached at

[email protected].

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