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4.8 out of 5 stars
37
4.8 out of 5 stars
Wonderfalls - The Complete Series [DVD]
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on 3 February 2005
A superb, quirky, inventive piece of television, this unjustly cancelled gem is worthy of a place in any discerning viewer's DVD collection. Wonderfalls details the trials and tribulations of Jaye Tyler (the sublime Caroline Dhavernas), a philosophy graduate wasting her life in a Niagra Falls gift shop that gives its name to the title of the show. Jaye's life plods on, drinking with her friend Mahandra, managing with her go-getting family until one day a defective toy, wax lion starts talking to her. After this one inanimate animal object after another gives Jaye abstract advice sending her on a series of adventures that see her begin to make progress in her life and touching those around her. Parts of this may sound clichéd but honestly, you've never seen anything quite as unique and original as this. Wonderfalls is simply a delight to watch, from the pitch-perfect acting to the superb writing, nothing is amiss. An absolute must buy.
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on 6 July 2017
Funny and quirky, shame no more were made though, but it does 'wrap up' nicely.
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on 17 May 2017
Never seen series before. Enjoyed.
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on 2 September 2017
quirky but enjoyable.
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on 7 March 2005
I don't wish to sound harsh but whoever cancelled this needs a slapping. I watch a lot of TV of many varying degrees of quality (Charmed take note) but this is the first time I've purchased DVDs of a cancelled show based on reputation alone. A friend drew my attentions to the tireless efforts of the savewonderfalls.com website and the way they and the creators of the show talked about it had me intrigued. Suffice to say, it was a good risk to take, this is my favourite ever television show. Wonderfalls as a premise does sound a little strange (over educated and unemployable graduate working in retail store gets told to do things by small cuddly bears and smush faced lions... thankfully it is the damn funniest, most heartbreaking (and warming) peice of art (there I said it, TV can be art) I'v ever encountered. The delivery of the show feels (at least to me) like somewhere between My So Called Life and Dead Like Me. If you could give more than five stars I would. I have a favourite new missanthrope and her name is Jaye Tyler.
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on 20 April 2007
There's always the danger of over-hyping with a show that was cut short prematurely and not given the chance to get into any kind of groove and really shine, before a merciless axing by an uncaring network. But that is definitely not true of `Wonderfalls', because as much as I enjoyed Bryan Fuller's other (more successful) creation `Dead Like Me', as an entirely different fantasy-comedy-drama `Wonderfalls' completely out-classes the competition, which is all the more impressive considering only thirteen episodes were ever made.

There is no Pilot for `Wonderfalls', no extra-length special to present the audience with the premise of this series and set the tone for the season to follow- the series just begins with little explanation or establishment and I think that's to the detriment of the show. The network obviously agreed because it was cancelled after a meagre four episodes were aired across the pond. But it's those further nine episodes that complete the season and which really see this oddity of an animal come to life! While I've gotta be honest and admit that the first few episodes are a little pedestrian, very soon `Wonderfalls' becomes surprisingly addictive television. Once you reach the final five episodes and especially the closing moments of episode 10- `Lying Pig' when an emotional tone begins to creep in beside the comedic one, I guarantee it will become clear to you just how attached you've gotten to these characters and in such a short space of time.

In one of the ways `Wonderfalls' shines particularly bright is in the writing- there are some absolutely cracking lines throughout each and every episode, it's more like poetry than dialogue, as barbed remark connects to witty off-the-cuff jibe leads into perfectly delivered punch-line without pause for breath. It may be true that `Dead Like Me's' reaper-hook probably works better than the talking-trinket-gimmick, but as the central heroine Jaye, Caroline Dhavernas delivers so much heart that it's impossible not to be swept along on the tempestuous tides of her life and love issues. And when you add into the mix a cast that are just as unique and interesting in their own right and given as much great material to flesh out their characters, it's just an irresistible and in the end heart-wrenching formula.

It's not difficult to see why `Wonderfalls' is mourned by so many- Jaye is a truly inspirational creation, not just engaging and funny, but really easy to empathise with. Plus the theme tune is absolute genius- incredibly catchy and the writing for each and every story is both original and unpredictable, so that after thirteen episodes it feels like an old friend, one you'll surely be saddened to say goodbye to and after only just getting to know. Travesty.
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on 3 August 2007
Wonderfalls is one of those marvellous shows that come along only once in a while and are so often brutally slaughtered by the network bigheads because no one is watching it. Well, it was, and now I feel that my world has come to some apocalyptic sort of end because there's no more Wonderfalls left to enjoy. Okay, maybe that is a bit of an overreaction, well, a massive one, but it is just so sweet it sort of works its way into your heart without you even being aware of it. It would, of course, be wrong of me to blame all of you for its cancellation though, because I didn't even know this show actually existed until a couple of months ago, but you feel like you have to blame somebody, don't you?

Wonderfalls is about sales clerk Jaye Tyler, played by the enchanting Caroline Dhavernas, who suddenly acquires the ability to hear and talk to toy animals. Whether it is a defective wax lion, a brass monkey, or a stuffed animal of some sort, they all enjoy conversing with the increasingly vexed Jaye. As could be expected, at first Jaye is somewhat against the idea of doing what things that have no right talking are telling her to do, though over the course of the thirteen episodes she seems to start compulsively doing what they tell her to do, even if it means she is losing out overall.

Joining Jaye Tyler is her lawyer sister Sharon, still-living-at-home brother Aaron, best friend Mahandra McGinty and bar tending love interest Eric Gotts. Also along for the ride are parents Darrin and Karen. The cast are all brilliant in their roles, though sometimes Jaye Tyler is a little too reminiscent of Georgia Lass from `Dead like Me', and the part of Eric Gotts as the love interest is pushed a little too much, sometimes interfering a little with Jaye's story of ever disappearing sanity, which is the more interesting story being told.

The show was created by Bryan Fuller, the genius behind the eternally missed `Dead like Me', another one you need to check out if you end up liking this. Though not as good as `Dead like Me', Bryan Fuller did a marvellous job creating this gem, and it follows in the similar comedy-with-some-drama-elements-but-is-always-sweet style of his previous show. The writing is always superb, and a superior wit and flare for dramatically unbelievable, but original storylines, lift this show high above the heads of nearly all other shows on TV right now or back then in 2004 when it first aired. Just a shame it wasn't given its chance to soar.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 December 2005
"Wonderfalls" was one of those outstanding cult shows that burn bright and briefly -- it lasted only four episodes before being yanked, with nine more as yet unaired. Now fans of this cult show are rewarded with the full series, in all its witty, quirky glory.

Twentysomething Jaye Tyler (Caroline Dhavernas) is an underachieving slacker. She has a philosophy degree from Brown University, but now works as a shopgirl at Niagara Falls and lives in a trailer. Needless to say, her ultra-successful family finds this galling and disturbing, even though they themselves are far from the Cleaver clan -- her sister Sharon (Katie Finneran) is a lesbian, her parents are splitting, and her brother is just a weirdo.

Then weirder things happen to Jaye. Suddenly toys are talking to her, and prompting her to help the people around her -- returning purses, dealing with ghosts, helping an old enemy from high school, and deal with a long-dead Indian girl. Following the instructions of her "muses," Jaye begins to learn a few things about other people, and the quality of kindness.

It's an unusual idea for a TV show -- an embittered young woman hears "muses" talking to her, including a stuffed lizard, lawn flamingos and a brass monkey. Most people would just check themselves into a padded cell, but that doesn't make for scintillating TV watching. So instead, it becomes a deeply warped inspirational series.

What sets it apart from other series is the surreal touch and wicked sense of humor. It's never made clear why Jaye hears toys and bookends talking cryptically to her -- is it God? Aliens? Her own mind? Pantheistic souls in everything? Nothing is made specific, which makes it all the weirder and more intriguing -- especially since the toys give her advice even when she doesn't want it.

And the humor can be beyond weird, but is always funny, such as Jaye arguing with a cow creamer (shades of P.G. Wodehouse?) that she doesn't want a pancake. Another example is a solemn, intense moment after she scatters a deceased person's ashes.... and promptly gets fined for littering. The dialogue is witty and well-written -- not in a laugh track way, but in a smile-and-chuckle-softly way.

Caroline Dhavernas does a phenomenal job as Jaye. She narrowly avoids the sullen teen/twentysomething cliche, making Jaye's dissatisfaction with her family and life seem realistic. She can be nasty and incisive and angsty, but can also be sweet and even vulnerable. The supporting cast, such as nice-guy bartender Eric (Tyron Leitso) and Jaye's bizarro overachiever family, are surprisingly well-rounded for such quirky characters.

"Wonderfalls" is destined to remain a cult hit -- delicate, weird and thoroughly original. It didn't last long, but now everyone can enjoy what there was of it. Absolutely wonder-fall.
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on 24 February 2014
I am a big fan of Mr Fuller.
Pushing Daisies and Dead Like Me are two of the cleverest and quirky series I have ever seen, and the new reworking of Hannibal (while a much, much darker show) is one of the best shows of the last couple of years.

As such, I made sure to seek out and finally get hold of one of his earlier series, which has been hard to get hold of in this country.
-and I must say, that it is worth hunting for.

Wonderfalls is the clever, quirky and engaging story of Jaye, a young woman who has set out her stall in life (at least for the time being) to work a dead-end job and live in a trailer. While this may not be the most exciting existence, it does allow her to just coast by, and have no pressures or stresses of life to contend with.
This is all going perfectly well, until toy and ornamental animals start talking to her…

It obviously takes some time to get over this strange gift, and a lot of the series focuses on her internal battle to make sense of it all – and the general thought that she may be insane.
But, whatever the cause of the voices are, the vague and brash statements they make (some of which time some time to work out the meaning of) ultimately lead Jaye to help people.

A lot of the comedy of the show comes from the animals themselves, but there is also a lot of amusement through Jaye being an anti-hero – specifically the fact that she constantly tries to avoid being thought of as a baby-catching hero, in a desperate attempt to cling to her life as a general slacker.

The show is brilliantly cast, with a lot of familiar faces cropping up; if you have seen any of Brian or Tim’s other shows.
Caroline Dhavernas (Alana Bloom, in the new Hannibal TV series).
Lee Pace (Ned, in Pushing Daisies)
And Jewel Staite (Kaylee from the incredible Firefly)

I would sincerely recommend this show for anyone that is a fan of shows that are quirky, fun and original. There is a good amount of drama, comedy, intrigue and romance to appeal to most audiences – plus the added bonus of the show having the stunning backdrop of Niagara Falls.

As with a lot of brilliant series, it suffered through production companies playing about with timeslots and advertising – leading to the show being cancelled.
However, don’t let that put you off, as while the series will leave you crying out for more, it was cleverly written so that the story was self-contained within one series.
So, while there are some plot threads left to dangle in the wind, a lot of the story comes to a somewhat satisfying end.
-There is also the adage that, while the show was prematurely ended, it was never allowed to get dull or tired. The result of this is 13 brilliant episodes that you will enjoy every moment of.

The only warning I will give to perspective viewers is that the theme for the show is incredibly catchy, and you will find it running around your head quite a bit.
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on 13 August 2006
... for not viewing this show when it was on the air. (Okay, I haven't got a Nielson box and so don't count ratingswise, but I still feel kinda bad.)

I was mildly impressed when the show aired (in a dreadful Friday-night timeslot). Now having seen the whole series, I know what I missed, what with the FOX network's tinkering with plot and airing the episodes out of order. Wonderfalls is a truly unique and delightful show, with great plot and acting. I'm greatful to it for introducing M.s Dhavernas to a US public that would otherwise likely remained unaware of her. She's phenomenal, (especially considering English is her second language, I believe. I'd never have known). She brings heart, vulnerability and real likeability to a character that is pretty unlikeable, at least to begin with. (Not to mention Katie Finneran, who plays her character hilariously and endearingly, and, most important, with the LEAST amount of stereotyping I've ever seen for a gay character ever.)

Sadly, there was not room on the Friday night lineup for two young ladies hearing mystical voices from the universe, and Wonderfalls was trounced and destroyed by "Joan of Arcadia" (also a lovely show, except I resent it now, in retrospect. Not Joan's fault.) We like our fantasy in moderation, Stateside, it seems -- our loss.

I like to think the cast and crew might have kept up this level of quality for several seasons. Poor Tim Minear -- Wonderfalls AND Firefly within a couple of years!

(Great, now I feel worse -- I also ignored Firefly when it was on the air...)

But at least we've got the full DVD set now. We as viewers can have closure (the DVDs end on a natural and pretty cheerful note considering it's a rather dark last episode, so you don't feel like it's a cliffhanger at all) and muse about what might have been (by all means, view the extras and listen to the commentary! I wish there had been more -- some of the extras kind of repeated info a bit too much -- but they do a decent job: a behind the scenes featurette, an odd little music video of the theme song, and charming commentary on about five of the episodes. I haven't been able to find any easter eggs yet, but I'm looking...).
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