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.
As Roger Daltry once sang, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." Tim Minear has signed a new seven figure deal that will keep him at 20th Century Fox TV for another two years. His job will continue to involve working on existing shows while developing new drama projects. He's now been at 20th for over a decade, counting among his credits The X-Files, Strange World, Angel, Firefly, Wonderfalls, The Inside, and Drive. Currently he is working as a consulting producer on Joss Whedon's upcoming Dollhouse.
A roundup of TV people from in front of the camera and behind the scenes who have passed away.
- Jeanne Bates: She was best known as Nurse Wills on the 1950s medical series Ben Casey. She appeared on many TV shows over the years, including That 70's Show, Wings, The Young and the Restless, Dallas, Three's Company, Quincy, M.E., Charlie's Angels, The Rockford Files, Cannon, The Saint, Hawaii Five-O, The Twilight Zone, and many others. She also appeared in several movies such as Die Hard 2, Grand Canyon, Eraserhead, the 1943 The Phantom serial, and the 1951 version of Death of a Salesman. She died of cancer at age 89.
In an interview with Popgurls.com, Heroes producer Bryan Fuller discloses that, yes, the character of Zach on the show was indeed gay and they were going to follow the story through, but then negotiations with the actor's (Thomas Dekker) management got "ugly."
Fuller says that Zach was going to come out on the show and actually help Claire "come out" about her superpower, but then reps for Dekker said that they didn't want to make the character gay because it might hurt his chances of getting the role of John Connor in the new series The Sarah Connor Chronicles. So they took out a line that would have said that Zach was gay and never really got into it again, though in everyone's mind the character was still gay. Fuller, gay himself, says that he was hurt and insulted by the entire "debacle."
They had whole episodes revolving around Zach planned, but then his reps pulled him from the show completely.
Moving on, thinking happy thoughts about Nielsen boxes tuned to Drive, episode three was another solid installment. That's solid, but not great. It didn't quite match the level of the first two. Not that there weren't high points. It just seemed that some of the stories lacked the intensity that we saw in the premiere. There was still some good information coming to us, but not in as gripping a fashion. That's fine, but not exactly what I wanted to see in the time slot premiere.
(S01E01/S01E02) To be honest, I was sold on this one long before we finally got a look at what the Drive team has been working on all this time. I count myself as a Tim Minear fan, so his involvement was enough to get me interested. Add in a cast including Nathan Fillion (Firefly), Melanie Lynskey (Two And A Half Men), Kevin Alejandro (Sleeper Cell), Kristin Lehman (Tilt), Dylan Baker (The Book Of Daniel), and Taryn Manning (Hustle & Flow), and you really have something.
While I have high hopes for Drive because A) it's being produced by Tim Minear and B) it stars Nathan Fillion, I also worry that it will be like many of Minear's other great shows that were canceled. Ahem... Firefly. While I didn't see it, I hear great things about The Inside, which Fox canceled in 2005. He was a "consulting producer" on Standoff but I'm not going to hold that against him. In fact, Minear has had a project on television every year since 1999.
If you want to know more about the show, check out Joel's story from the TCA.
If you're a glass half full type, the good news is that expectations for that slot are low. The O.C. has struggled to reach even 4 million viewers this season. Drive should be able to best that pretty easily. On the other hand, if you're a glass half empty person, it is also the toughest time slot of the week. Not only will they be going up against the number 1 and 2 shows on TV in Grey's Anatomy and C.S.I, but they also face Supernatural, which I think has some crossover with viewers who would watch Drive.
USA Today's Coming Attractions has a little blurb about Minear's latest project, Drive, that says it is coming in March. They refer to it as "Amazing Race meets 24." Minear adds, "There's a giant purse of money at the end, but they don't know where the end is." Other than that, most things about the show remain up in the air. Early reports had Nick Lea (X-Files, Whistler) and Ivan Sergei (Hawaii, Jack & Jill) starring in the show. However, a recent post on nicklea.com reveals that many of the roles are being recast, including Lea's and Sergei's. Even with all the confusion, it's still a Minear show. That makes it worth watching.
The wha-huh inclusion for me though, Cop Rock. It was an original concept, sure, but "lamentably" implies that you feel some kind of sorrow that it's gone. I think 11 episodes was more than anyone needed to get full and complete closure with Cop Rock. As far as omissions, the shows that come to mind right away for me are Going To California, Keen Eddie, Maximum Bob, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., and Wonderfalls. Going To California remains my number one most wanted DVD set, and Maximum Bob is in the top five. I'm curious to hear what other people view as the ones that got away.
Now, I think that Firefly and Wonderfalls were brilliant, and The Inside was solid. But that just means that 'I' think someone should give Tim another show. The part I don't get is that from the Fox perspective, these shows were all failures. They managed to last 11, 4, and 7 episodes. Three series, 22 episodes. What does a guy have to do to be shown the door?
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