16th Oct2013

‘Wonderfalls: The Complete Series’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Caroline Dhavernas, Katie Finneran, Tyron Leitso, William Sadler, Diana Scarwid, Lee Pace, Tracie Thoms | Created by Bryan Fuller, Todd Holland

Wonderfalls

After debuting on US television in March 2004, Wonderfalls was abruptly pulled from the schedules only four weeks later. However like all good TV shows – and believe me this is a GREAT show – the series found itself a cult audience, one who would find any way of seeing the remaining nine episodes that were not screened on American television. Of course not all countries and and all TV stations cut off the show after four episodes and eventually all thirteen episodes became available via less-than-legal torrents and file sharing services. But something else happened… The small, but very vocal, loyal fanbase that had built up around the show in such a short space of time got so loud that Fox actually released the entire thirteen episode series on DVD less than a year after it had premiered on TV.

But that was in the US. For the small army of Wonderfalls fans in the UK who had surreptitiously seen the series and were without access to a Region 1 DVD player, a legal way to watch the series has remained elusive. Until now.

Set for a UK release via one of the countries best niche DVD labels, Mediumrare Entertainment, Wonderfalls is a series that is like no other. For those that haven’t experienced one of the greatest television series to come out of America in decades, the official synopsis goes something like this:

Set against the backdrop of Niagara! Falls, twenty-something graduate Jaye Tyler (Caroline Dhavernas – Hannibal), finds herself in a dead end job in a souvenir shop. But her life is about to change forever, when inanimate objects such as animal figures and cartoons start talking to her. These unlikely messages set off a chain of events that lead Jaye into other people’s lives and some madcap adventures.

Jaye finds herself in many weird and wonderful situations that lead her to question her sanity. She seeks solace in her best friend Mahandra and becomes friends with local bartender Eric who tries to help answer the questions that plague her: Is the universe conspiring against her? Should she struggle with fate or surrender to destiny? Whatever the answers Jaye is gradually discovering that the seemingly random events in her life are actually bringing joy to those around her and are all part of something much greater.

If there’s a mark of a good TV series, it’s just how re-watchable it is. I’ve owned the US DVD boxset since it’s release and I’ve watched it many times, enough times that I can recite parts of the script verbatim. But that hasn’t stopped me re-watching my DVDs or in fact watching the review discs I was sent for Wonderfalls UK release. I could easily have written a review of the show from memory but I chose not to. I chose to watch all thirteen episodes again for the umpteenth time. That’s how much I love this series.

It’s easy to see why Mediumrare have chosen now to release Wonderfalls: The Complete Series, star Caroline Dhavernas has scored a very mainstream, very visible, role in the television adaptation of Thomas Harris’ (in)famous novels featuring one Dr. Hannibal Lecter. And if you’ve seen Dhavernas is Hannibal you’ll have some idea of just how charismatic an actress she is. And she is even more so in Wonderfalls. The 2004 show revolves around her, her wonderment is what brings the audience into the series and it’s her performance that keeps you watching. Well that and the intriguing need to know just what the hell is going on with the talking objects!

Part spiritual, part metaphysical and 100% amazing, this quirky show deserves to find a new audience on DVD, an audience that may not have seen the show the first time round – this is the kind of series that will appeal to plenty, from kids to hipsters and everyone in between, it’s intelligent, witty and filled with emotion. A show that most-definitely only comes around once in a blue moon.

Wonderfalls: The Complete Series is released on DVD, courtesy of Mediumrare Entertainment, on October 28th. It’s an essential purchase.

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