Sometimes, a TV show comes along that is so refreshingly different, unique, original, and just plain good that it reaffirms your faith in television. Then you get to be pissed off that its on FOX.
I suppose its too easy to be hard on FOX for their track record of canceling refreshingly original TV shows. Sure, they've racked up a lot of victims, (Andy Richter Controls the Universe, Futurama, The Tick, Firefly are just recent victims) but they only stand out because the other networks don't air refreshigly original programs. So shouldn't FOX get some credit for at least trying? Afraid not. Because FOX knows these shows don't have a chance, so they are culpable for teasing the viewing public with good programing only to pull it away just as our attention is peaked. They are, indeed, worse for giving us good TV and pulling it away than the other networks are for never giving it to us at all. The bastards. Besides, slim as the chances are, they might be hording the good shows so they can kill them least another network land them. The bastards.
Their latest inevitable victim debuted today. It was put off from the Fall, then from mid-season, and now it lands at mid-mid-season. I guess it would be too dangerous to debut it in the summer when it could become a sleeper hit. Meet "Wonderfalls", the story of a mid-20's slacker from Niagra Falls named Jaye. Ivy-League educated, she's now being passed over for the Assistant Manager position at a tourist trap gift shop and doing all she can to disappoint her family. As she puts it, they all work very hard and are dissatisfied with their lives. She's dissatisfied without even working hard. Until one day, inanimate objects start talking to her. Not long conversations, mind you. Their remarks are more of the cryptic variety, but somehow they manage to lead her to help people. Which is entirely not what Jaye wants to do, as she becomes increasingly annoyed but simultaniously complacant with the whole going insane thing. Its all played very quirky and funny and its just great. It feels like a lot of the quirky surreality type shows that have come before it, but also immediately finds its own voice. For one, things don't get "too weird". Its not a freak-show like, say, Twin Peaks or Eerie, Indiana of the Adventures of Pete and Pete. Its only Jaye that's getting the weird. And she's also out to help people, but has a very real response to it all. Its warm without being sappy. Jaye remains cynical in the face of the mystic, but also remains entirely likable and enjoyable.
An added benefit is that the lead is my age. I'm a weird age that's been largely ignored on TV. There were never TV kids my age. No rowdy college kids my age. No mid-20's types finding their way in the world my age. Well, a few, but not many. Now, to be fair, the character is 2 years my junior, but that's pretty close and the actress is my age, so I'll count it. I can absolutely identify with the mid-20's malaise, so all the stuff going on when toy lions are chatting with Jaye are very cool for me.
(Minor caveat: some reviews seem to indicate some gratuitous fat bashing in a future episode. Ugh. Is any show able to respect fat people? Maybe we'll get lucky and it'll resolve well, but I'm not getting my hopes up. And another show forces me to grin and bear it just to watch good TV. Grrr.)
UPDATE: On my fat bashing concerns, it appears they aren't gratuitious, but rather a plot point. Double Ugh. In a future episode (though not next week's if you want to watch then) Jay is obsessed with a fat neighbor who she refers to with a mean-spirited nick-name. She gets come-uppence for this, but on the way the guy is continually contratulated for his weight loss. The only positive is that the story is clear-ish that his weight loss doesn't solve his problems. Except they kinda do. Like I said, Grrr. At least its an entire episode I can skip. If I'm lucky, it'll happen on the upcoming Friday night I'm working.