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.
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.
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?
- Caroline Dhavernas (Jaye Tyler) has acted in several Canadian and American film and television projects, including 'Hollywoodland,' 'Passchendaele,' and took on the role of Vera Keller in HBO's 'The Pacific.'
- Tracie Thomas (Mahandra McGinty) has appeared regularly on 'Cold Case' as Kat Miller, while moonlighting in such major films as 'Rent' and 'The Devil Wears Prada.'
- Tyron Leitso (Eric Gotts) went on to a role on the Canadian drama 'Whistler,' before joining 'Being Erica' as Ethan Wakefield, Erica's boyfriend.
- Lee Pace (Aaron Tyler) found an even more prominent, multi-nominated role as Ned in Bryan Fuller's follow-up project, 'Pushing Daisies.'
- Katie Finneran (Sharon Tyler) starred as Special Agent Melody Sim on 'The Inside' and continues to appear in various TV shows like 'Drive' and 'Royal Pains.'
- William Sadler (Darrin Tyler) appears in countless film and television roles, including as Carlton Fog in 'Traveler,' and most recently as Lt. Col. Lewis "Chesty" Puller in 'The Pacific.'
- Diana Scarwid (Karen Tyler) is a regular guest star on various shows, including extended runs on 'Prison Break,' and 'Pushing Daisies.'
- Neil Grayston (Alec "Mouthbreather") followed up with a run on the Canadian comedy series 'Godiva's' before landing his most well-known role as Douglas Fargo on Syfy's 'Eureka.'
- Jewel Staite (Heidi Gotts) reprised her 'Firefly' role for the 'Serenity' film, before settling into her new digs on 'Stargate: Atlantis' as Dr. Jennifer Keller.
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!]