Wonder Falls (2004)
(Release Date: March 12, 2004)
(AXE DATE: April 5, 2004)


I'll get you for this Rupert Murdoch! And your Little Dog Too!

J.C. Mašek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

Oh, Fox Executives, you've all been very, very bad little children, and the sick and most terrible smelly bon-bon about it is that you have no one to answer to! We all make fun of Les Franšais for having a "Ministry of Culture", yet look at the state of our One Nation Under God!

Why do Bad Shows happen to Good People?

I'm Blinding you with Research!

I'm having a 'sode!

Now, hold the phone... before you write in and tell me that "This is just Business" and that I need to put on my "Frankie Says Relax" T-Shirt, check this out. Wonder Falls Nabbed 3.3 Million Viewers on Friday Night with no gosh darned lead in to speak of (Unless the Celebrity Spelling Bee got stronger ratings than previously made clear). I'll admit that Fox did advertise the show relatively well, however, by way of Comparison, Fox's own Standard-Bending Tru Calling (which is a good show) averages 4.3 Million Viewers, and has only ONE TIME broken the 5 Million Viewership Mark. They've also been careful to put this show on Thursdays when more people are home. True this is up against CSI, but as I pointed out above, Tru Calling (like Wonder Falls) is alternative programming that will target those not so interested in William Peterson's Bug Fetish.

Hold your breath, here's more! Fox's Porn-meets-90210 Show known as Skin hit 5.1 Million viewers, which exceeds Tru Calling's viewership for every episode but one, and Fox cancelled that admitted piece of Goldfish Turds after like Two miserable showings! What's my point? Cancel Tru Calling? No, Salad-Head, my point is that Fox is well able to give Edgy and Alternative shows the old College Try when they feel the show's good! Tru Calling is lower in the Neilsens than Skin, but there have been twelve showings of Tru and only two of Skin! They believe in Tru Calling! Even if they Cancel it tomorrow, Tru Calling's already gotten 10 shows more aired than the better Neilsened Skin!

So why would Fox relegate Wonder Falls, the best reviewed show Fox has had since Arrested Development to the Friday Death Slot that claimed Firefly, The Lone Gunmen and so many others? Folks, there's such a thing as a "Lead-In" which is what you give shows that you believe in. You take Wonder Falls and you put it after The Simpsons or That 70's Show, or Twenty fucking Four if you believe in it. Don't double standard yourself and pretend you gave Wonder Falls it's due by Burying it in your weakest time slot! Fox hid this venerable show like an Erotic Cake after a Bachelor Party from the FiancÚe!

But again, Fox has no one to answer to! Why? American I, Dull the same week got 27 million viewers! Setting aside the fact that giving Wonder Falls such a lead-in would have Saved it, let's look at that. The same sanitized and reprocessed Cheez-Whiz music that I can't stand to listen to on the Radio and "Empty-V" is getting almost SuperBowl ratings, and it costs less than your average Shenandoah Shakespeare Society Showing in the Park to produce. Reality keeps getting literally and figuratively cheaper and no one gives a crap. People are Watching this instead of shows that take... oh, what's that word... it's so underused now... Oh, yeah... IMAGINATION!

Readers, I'm calling on all seven of you to do me a huge-ass favor. Stop watching Reality TV of the sort that turns the Gray Matter into Pink Mush! Now that Jeri and Jenna have been voted off the Island there's no Eye-Candy on Survivor anymore anyway. If it's a Guilty Pleasure, clear your Conscience and don't watch it. When a TV "Drama" gives you the same plot and story that you've seen nine times before (probably on a show with the same name but a different catch line after the Colon) please, turn it offT They don't respect you enough to give you anything new, so why should you respect them? If you've ever said to yourself, "I saw THAT ending coming!" stop watching the show... you've seen it, it's done. Can you really die from not knowing whether Trista is going to be picked by Ryan? I should say probably no! Are you really going to be all that amazed by the transformations on Extreme Makeover or The Swan? No... here it is... they were ugly, now they're pretty... Reverse the chronological order of the pictures on this very web site and you'll get the same effect! Clay, Ruben, Justin and Kelly are all singing songs you've heard only slightly different from the way youĺve heard them, and guess what... they are all getting record deals. Don't bother giving them your attention, they'll be fine.

And if you ignore me and watch the same pre-packaged and mass-produced reality and "Drama" out there, don't complain that the good shows get axed. We're all training the Bank-humping TV programmers out there that this is what we want!

-Tube-Smoocher Kneumsi!

If the following Ads are for Reality Shows... IGNORE THEM!

Dick Wolf's working on his fifth(!) Law and Order series. The Top Rated show is American Idol followed closely by The Apprentice and Survivor! In a few short months the Albatross that is CSI: New York will be hung about the collective necks of the viewing public (amid two similarly rotting CSI-don't-think-sos)! Every time I turn around there's another Horse Rectum eating show featuring a beautiful woman in a Bikini, whom I wouldn't want to Kiss after her eating fucking Horse Rectum! There's The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Joe Millionaire, Average Joe, The Littlest Groom, and Mr. Personality! Even 24 is getting repetitive and Formulaic in it's young age, and if you pick up your local listings you'll see Without a Trace (CSI for Missing Persons), Cold Case (CSI everyone forgot about) and Navy NCIS (CSI on a Boat). There's about as much uniqueness on Television right now as there is diversity in the Skin tone of the Fucking Smurfs!

Enter shows like Buffy (which is gone), Farscape (Cancelled), Firefly (Cancelled), Angel (just got Cancelled), John Doe (Cancelled), Dark Angel (Can-Diddly-Ancelled) and Smallville (Not cancelled... yet... but it's also about as quality as Enterprise). These are shows that are offering an alternative with a different Lagniappe! But, guess what... More people are interested in watching NASCAR than something that is... dare I say a filthy fucking word... SCRIPTED!

Then enter Wonder Falls!

Picture an Irreverent Joan of Arcadia trapped in Twin Peaks with more brains than the Average WMD Inspector. Her life is a "Work in Progress" so she's reduced herself to working in a Niagara Falls Gift Shop for a Mouth-Breathing Assistant Manager not even out of High School! Imagine one fateful day a mystical series of strange events empower our heroine, Jaye Tyler (the hilarious Caroline Dhavernas), to communicate with inanimate objects who won't stop giving her advice (like the pundits on Fox News, but with intelligence)!

What follows is a an inventive chain of problem solving events led by our Generation Y Malcontent lead whose sarcasm and timely angst somehow never feels terribly Been-there-done-that.

Executive Producer Tim Minear, of such edgy programming as Firefly, Angel, Lois and Clark, and a little-known and utterly un-impactful show known as The X-Files, manages to keep Jaye's life infused with Scooby-Doo themed Mystery, Wisecracks and more comedy in one hour than your average sitcoms heave on you in three hours! This is that something Completely Different you and John Cleese have been demanding! It's pretty safe to say that Wonder Falls was one of the best and funniest shows to grace television in years.

Naturally, this week, Fox Cancelled it.

Why? What was wrong? Wonder Falls had great charactes from Bill Sadler as Jaye's deluded Dad, Darrin to Katie Finneran as Jaye's deluded sister Sharon to Diana Scarwid, Jaye's deluded mom Karen to Lee Pace as Jaye's deluded brother Aaron. It's hard to stop starin' when you find your self carin' about Darrin, Sharon, Karen and Aaron, Red Baron! Tyron Leitso is also great as the storied bartender hiding from his adulterous newlywed wife! It's Tracie Thoms who almost steals the show as Jaye's equally jaded and intelligent and equally successful best friend Mahandra!

I say "almost" because Caroline Dhavernas is incredible as Jaye. Wise-Cracking and misanthropic, but loveable and funnier than Jonathan Davis Yodeling! And I say "Successful" because, like Jaye's Ivy-League Educated, trailer-park dwelling Gift Shop Clerk, Mahandra is the "Jen Why" equivalent to Carla Tortelli as a worldly wise and disaffected waitress.

Dhavernas's Jaye is probably the least-likely candidate for other-worldly communication, yet somehow (Maid of the Mist, God, Jonathan Davis) someone is communicating with her through inanimate objects to improve the world in a cynical and wise-cracking way... sort of like a post-modern Scott Bakula without the Time Travel!

Possibly the funniest incarnation from Tarnation of an advice-giving Souvenir has been the Deformed Wax Lion who helps Jaye into Sharon's life and Sharon out of the Closet.
Jaye: I guess I thought if I could just get my sister laid the little wax lion might just shut up.
Eric: The wax lion wanted your sister to have sex?
Jaye: I'm assuming.
Eric: Does the little wax lion ever tell you to burn things or hurt people?
Jaye: I bet he's working up to that...
This little red dude is as much of a Smart-Alec as Jaye is, but unlike Jaye, is always right. So's the Bronze Monkey with the Hamlet-meets-Yorick complex. Oh, and have I mentioned the Big Mouth Billy Bass?

One of the most truly interesting things about Wonder Falls is that no amount of Same-Ness affected the show (not that Tim Minear was given enough time to repeat himself). In three episodes there was more unique inventiveness than in a season of anything starring David Caruso, and more laughs than an DVD of Curb Your Enthusiasm!

It's also one of those few shows ever to ride the crest of the wave above Network Television

that you can't just watch one time. It's that rare program you both watch and tape to watch again and catch the laughs you missed the first time. Did it take too much brains? Is that why it didn't do well? Its quotability factor is off the midi-chlorian chart, there Herb! Not since Buffy Season Three has there been such an orchard of one-liners!

So, again, why was this cancelled? Ratings! (See Sidebar). While this is both inconsistent and unfair, we're also asking for what we get. By continually tuning in to the same old Cookie-Cutter shows we're telling Fox and the other networks that we want more bland repetition, and we're going to keep getting Bachelorettes in Alaska rather than Kolchak the Night Stalker! I have to say though, that if they decide to burn off the rest of these episodes on the USA Network (like they're doing with the axed-too-soon Karen Sisco), please watch the damned thing. Get the Kids and the Dog and the Neighbors and several Homeless people, and even Aunt Trudy whom you've banned from your home to watch it. You're not just you... you represent a demographic! Show people this show can work, and while the whole run might turn out to be simply a "Preview for the DVD Release" and we might not get lucky as we did with Joss' Firefly getting made into a movie, maybe someone will give another great but dead-on-the-vine show a chance.

22 years ago a little show with no viewership was renewed for a second season against all odds. The network at the time felt that there was potential there and because it was a good show they kept trying and hoped for the viewers that would eventually come. They did. The show was called Cheers, the network, NBC, who would try similar things for the brilliant Scrubs. Sometimes shows need time to find their audience. Nip them in the bud and you'll never know. Fox, you're a fucking gaggle of Sheep Pimps!

And we... we're destined to see more of the same franchised cookie-cutter shows that have conquered out home screen and proven out that "Idiot Box" isn't such a bad expression.

Hell if new ideas are dead, let's re-use some with a J.C. Mašek III flair! How about CSI NICU? It's a CBS show about Infants who solve crimes scientifically while still in the Hospital. Every once in a while Michael McKean can guest star, and maybe Lorenzo Llamas! Then they can all get plastic surgery and marry a millionaire and sing their hearts out to become the next American Idle just before getting voted off of the NICU floor! Brilliant! Call Mark Burnett!

Four and a half Stars out of Five for Wonder Falls. Given time and the Fifth Star would have come, I doubt not. Next time people ask me why I'm so irate, why I complain so much or why the glass is half empty, it's because yet another sign of the Coming Apocalypse has been meted upon me. As my infant nephew reaches adulthood he'll have been raised on CSI: Albuquerque, When Intestines Explode and get eaten CAUGHT ON TAPE and Survivor: Salt Lake City!

Overreacting am I? It's just one show is it? CSI and Forever Eden aren't that Bad, aren't they? You've proven my point about societal downfall. I'll be under my desk in a fetal position sucking my fist and crying. Fuck!


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Wonder Falls (2004) reviewed by J.C. Mašek III
who Did Not Have Sexual Relations With That Woman!
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