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DVD REVIEW: WONDERFALLS

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PHOTOGRAPHY

WONDERFALLS: THE COMPLETE VIEWER COLLECTION

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 13 episodes on three discs, six episode commentaries, 2 featurettes, music video

STUDIO: FOX

RELEASE DATE: 2-1-2005

PREMISE: Jaye Tyler (Caroline Dhavernas) is a mid-20s slacker working at Wonderfalls, a tourist gift shop, in Niagara Falls. Inanimate objects with faces start talking to her and tell her to do things. Jaye thinks she is going crazy, but soon she sees her actions are having an unexpected effect on other people.

EPISODES:

Disc One- WAX LION, PINK FLAMINGOS, KARMA CHAMELEON, WOUND-UP PENGUIN

Disc Two- CRIME DOG, MUFFIN BUFFALO, BARREL BEAR, LOVESICK ASS

Disc Three- SAFETY CANARY, LYING PIG, COCKTAIL BUNNY, TOTEM MOLE, CAGED BIRD

ANALYSIS: If any show in 2004 that got robbed from not getting more of a chance to find an audience, I would have to say it is WONDERFALLS. The show just got better and better with each episode. This witty show had a magical wonder to it as I connected with Jaye and felt her heart breaking in the later episodes. If WONDERFALLS didn't meet an unfortunate fate into Early Cancellation Hell, this show would have been one of my favorites of 2004. However, thanks to the efforts of fans and SaveWonderfalls.com, all 13 episodes (including 9 unaired episodes) have made it to DVD. So enjoy the episodes as Jaye is the Universe's Butt Puppet and the muse characters with their not-so clear advice.

I have to say KARMA CHAMELEON, LOVESICK ASS, and COKTAIL BUNNY are my favorite WONDERFALLS episodes. Once you get hooked to WONDERFALLS, it becomes a show that can be watched again and again as you witness Jaye's journey along with the lives of others like Aaron and Sharon. Jaye wonders if she is going insane because she doesn't want to do the things the inanimate objects tell her. She is also struggling with her growing feelings for Eric (the new bartender at The Barrel) and feels even more conflicted when Eric's estranged wife, Heidi (Jewel Staite), show ups. Aaron starts to key into what Jaye is experiencing. Will he think she's crazy or will it challenge his beliefs as an atheist (who happens to be a theology major)? Also the writers have a love for their supporting players like Doctor Ron. Definitely there are unanswered questions like where is the bathroom in Jaye's trailer and where is the Tyler's housekeeper after we see her in CRIME DOG? I love the inanimate objects like the Cow Creamer and the Lovesick Ass. So don't have a tude and watch some sodes.

VIDEO/AUDIO: All 13 episodes of WONDERFALLS are presented in 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. Colors and blacks are great. However, the episodes are grainy at times during scenes with low light and the blue sky at the end of BARREL BEAR. Image detail is good.

The episodes can be heard in English 5.1 Dolby Digital with the option of English or Spanish subtitles. Dialogue comes through clear as a bell. Music benefits the most in the 5.1 mix. All extras and commentaries are in English 2.0 Dolby Digital.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The GREETINGS FROM WONDERFALLS documentary is on disc one. It has talk about how the show came together, the casting of the roles, the muses, when they knew WONDERFALLS was in trouble, and where the show would have went in season 2 and season 3. Interviews from the cast and crew in addition to part of Caroline Dhavernas audition tape.

A music video of the WONDERFALLS theme song and a Visual Effects Feaurette are on disc two. The Visual effects Featurette (called Fantastic Special Effects) is a brief 3 minute featurette about the how they created the speaking of the muses through CGI and an intriguing idea for an episode they never got to make is mentioned.

COMMENTARIES: Six episode commentaries have been recorded for this set. Commentaries are featured for WAX LION, CRIME DOG, LOVESICK ASS, SAFETY CANARY, COCKTAIL BUNNY, and CAGED BIRD. Caroline Dhavernas, Katie Finneran, Todd Holland, and Bryan Fuller talk on every commentary with Scotch Ellis Loring joining them for the commentary of COCKTAIL BUNNY.

We learn that COCKTAIL BUNNY was intended to be earlier in the season originally and that parts of it was filmed weeks later in addition that COCKTAIL BUNNY convinced them to present all the episodes in Widescreen for the DVD. The creators do drop the bomb where season 2 and season 3 would have went (like Dr. Ron would be trying to study Jaye). The four of them sing the theme song on CAGED BIRD (where they also give thanks to the fans and SaveWonderfalls.com) while budget constraints get revealed during the commentary for LOVESICK ASS (the trailer is an actual trailer and not a set due to money running out).

The story behind the theme song is revealed during SAFETY CANARY. The various commentaries reveal what scenes were cut in the scripting stage, they always seemed to be shooting late on Friday nights, what scenes had to be changed due to scheduling conflicts with guest actors, and the rewrites were ongoing on the scripts. The CRIME DOG commentary reveals this is an episode FOX Network didn't like and they had so many problems with the episode that was going to air before the show was cancelled.  The commentary for WAX LION is all about the production of the pilot including the new scenes that were shot months later and two roles being recast for the series (Mahandra and Aaron).  All in all, I enjoyed listening to the episode commentaries and it shows that the four of them on all six commentaries enjoyed doing the show (and these commentaries).

MENUS/SET DESIGN:  The menus and disc art reflect the classic ViewMaster design.  I remember having a ViewMaster and the discs when I was a kid.  Two DVD cases (one holds two discs) are good and discs are secure in them.

FINAL ANALYSIS: The WONDERFALLS DVD collection is well-deasigned with extras geared to the fans. Despite the grain issue during many of the episodes, WONDERFALLS is a show you should check out if you're looking for complex and quirky series. Also fans of DEAD LIKE ME should check this show out.

this DVD Review is (c)1-24-2005 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com and look for additional content (and site updates) at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia