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October 13, 2015

Gone Too Soon: Wonderfalls

by Jason Hughes, posted Mar 30th 2010 11:05AM
After bringing us the quirky death dramedy 'Dead Like Me,' and just before the resurrection dramedy 'Pushing Daisies,' Bryan Fuller co-created, along with Todd Holland ('Sons of Tucson'), another odd little show for FOX. 'Wonderfalls' premiered in March 2004; the tale of a young woman instructed by animal-shaped figurines to help people in need.

Much like his other shows, the whole atmosphere and presentation of 'Wonderfalls' was tailored to create a magical world just outside our own. Gritty realism certainly wasn't the goal.

Unfortunately, a serious lack of network patience led to 'Wonderfalls' getting canceled after airing only four critically acclaimed episodes out of thirteen produced. But those four hours left an indelible mark on the loyal viewers who did find it, and the series message of hope resonates as powerfully today as it did then.

Caroline Dhavernas, 'Wonderfalls'What was it?
[Spoiler Warning!] It was a television series about a girl going crazy. Or maybe it wasn't. Much like 'Joan of Arcadia' and the more recent 'Eli Stone' had their titular characters following guidance and visions that may or may not be coming from a higher power, 'Wonderfalls' was the story of Jaye Tyler and the animal figurines who talked to her. These muses gave her cryptic instructions toward helping people in need. Whether they were really speaking to her, or Jaye was just losing her mind, was explored throughout the series.

A Brown University graduate, Jaye was underachieving by working at a Niagara Falls gift shop. But by staying in her hometown, she was able to meet Eric, the man who would be her love if only they could get that cheating and legitimately crazy wife Heidi out of the way for good. The series explored the relationships between Jaye's best friend, Mahandra, who struck up a secret relationship with Jaye's brother Aaron, as well as the dynamics of the Tyler family.

Caroline Dhavernas, 'Wonderfalls'Why did it have to go?
FOX only aired four episodes of 'Wonderfalls' in its initial airing from March - April 2004. The first three episodes aired at 9PM ET on Fridays, pulling in an average of four million viewers. After an airing on Thursday night actually drew more viewers, FOX shifted the series opposite 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation' and 'The Apprentice,' two very strong performers on Thursdays in 2004. After one airing there, where it failed to make a mark, the network pulled it from their schedule.

How do I find out what happens next?
Based on an interview in the DVD release, there were some big changes in store for Jaye in subsequent seasons. The second season would have Jaye's therapist begin documenting their sessions, eventually leading to the publication of a book. Jaye would deal with a new intact "wax lion" who would tell her not to listen to "original wax lion."

By the time the third season would come around, Jaye would be institutionalized, as a result of her therapist's book, and diagnosed with "Joan of Arc syndrome." And just for kicks, somewhere throughout all of this, her lesbian sister would find herself pregnant.

Where did the cast wind up?

'Wonderfalls - The Complete Viewer Collection'Who cares?
The fan support was so strong that they got a special screening of all thirteen produced episodes at the Museum of Television and Radio in New York City in January 2005. Outside of the US, the entire series aired on Sky One in the UK and Vision TV in Canada, while Logo finally picked it up and ran all thirteen episodes for US viewers in July 2005.

While they lie mostly dormant now, you can still find many campaign, support and fan sites for 'Wonderfalls' scattered across the Internet. Their tremendous showing of support helped get the show eventually on the air at other networks, as well convincing 20th Century Fox that there was enough interest out there to warrant a full series DVD release.

When can I see it?

At this point, it doesn't look like the show is currently airing anywhere, so you're best bet is to just go ahead and pick up that DVD set the fans fought so hard for.

You can get 'Wonderfalls - The Complete Series' for less than $20 at Amazon.com, and that's a lot of great television, for very little dough.

[via Save Wonderfalls, AOL, Wikipedia, IMDb and more!]

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Yes, I prefer to think of it as a perfect gem of a mini-series...at least it came to a resolution, unlike Pushing Daisies. Be sure to give the commentary on the DVDs a listen...

April 01 2010 at 11:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It was fairly good, but compared to Fuller's other shows it was definitely his weakest work and lacked the fully-realized worlds that both Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies inhabited from day one.

All of his shows have been canceled too soon, but I wouldn't have hesitated to throw this under the bus in exchange for another season of Dead Like Me (or maybe even making the film tolerable).

April 01 2010 at 8:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Caroline Dhavernas, yes please.

March 31 2010 at 2:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I found this show during the Logo airing. Thus began my love affair with Brian Fuller. I LOVE my Wonderfalls and ended up getting into Dead Like Me and, of course, Pushing Daisies. He WAS the reason the first season of Heroes was so amazing...and the reason the consecutive seasons weren't. By the time he came back, it was too late.

Thank you for mentioning one of my favorite series! Oh, and it's Tracie THOMS, not Thomas!

March 30 2010 at 7:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Fox are good in that they occasionally go for quirky shows which might not make the air on other networks, but they are then horribly renowned for pulling shows which are/could have been real nest-eggs in future DVD sales:

Arrested Development is one of the biggest selling TV-on-DVDs of the last few years, and should have been given a full third season at least. The movie is probably going to be one of the biggest comedies in theatres when it gets released. It is the finest sitcom to perhaps ever grace TV. However over-the-top this may sound, the writing on that show was TV's equivalent of Shakespeare.

Firefly could easily have been Fox's Battlestar Galactica or Star Trek: Maybe not as big as those two but a full franchise with loyal fans in it's own right. Another show where each additional series would have made big bucks.

Waterfall was sadly pulled from the air before it was even given the chance to prove Fox wrong. But it was another quality show, which was strangled out of existence because Fox can't market anything that's not broad.

I'd love to be the guy at Fox whose CV reads: Cancelled Arrested Development, Cancelled FireFly, Cancelled Waterfalls. He's not Brannon Braga's brother is he? (sorry, old 24 joke!)

March 30 2010 at 6:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I still think WF's cancellation is one of FOX's biggest mistakes. Great cast, great script but lousy support. Didn't the Executive who authorized the pull got let go? Bring it back!

March 30 2010 at 4:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This show was on when alot of really weird and interesting stuff was on Fox (all of it cancelled now). My girlfriend and I watch an episode or two every few months. We even have friends who have bought the DVDs after catching a 'sode or two with us. And yes, that was a Wonderfalls reference.

March 30 2010 at 4:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think this and Firefly... I must have re-watched both series on DVD like a bazillion times. Just doesn't get old.

March 30 2010 at 2:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I loved this show so much! Being at that age when this show came out where everyone was constantly asking what I was going to do with my life & not feeling ready to make the leap into adulthood, made this a refreshing & realistic look at what we dealt with. Though I didn't have creatures telling me what to do, so much as parents, friends, family...

When they aired on LOGO I got my niece hooked on it. Such wonderful quirky characters and of course Lee pace... *sigh*

March 30 2010 at 1:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have this show on DVD...absolutely love it.

March 30 2010 at 12:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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