Thursday, January 25, 2007

Cancelled shows given second chance with DVDs

(I bought the Wonderfalls series for my wife for one of her Christmas presents. - Marc)

We all know about the astronomical success of the "Family Guy" DVD box sets, which motivated the network that originally cancelled the Seth MacFarlane-created series (Fox) to offer the residents of Quahog, R.I., a second chance.

There were also the considerable sales of "Firefly," the Joss Whedon sci-fi/western (also cancelled by Fox) which found new life as a Universal-backed motion picture called "Serenity" (even if its total box office take didn't even cover the film's modest $40 million production budget).

While most cancelled shows don't get a second chance on television or the big screen, their eventual release on DVD offers viewers the chance to check out what they missed the first time around.

Here are some of the very best of the very cancelled, emancipated of commercials and chocked full of commentaries no one will ever listen to:

* Wonderfalls

Canadian indie film standout Caroline Davernas starred in this 2004 comedy about an MTV generation underachiever who graduated from Cornell and now works at a Niagara Falls gift shop. Jaye Tyler (Dhavernas) frequents the bar where her best friend is a waitress, lives in a trailer and is generally content with an achievement-free existence (despite being the de facto redheaded stepchild in her family).

Her entire life changes, however, when she discovers that manufactured representations of animals (like wax figures and those of the stuffed variety) can speak to her. As much as she tries to ignore them, she is all but forced to listen and repeatedly commit that most dreaded act of any self-respecting slacker: the good deed.

Ever the reluctant hero, Jaye saves relationships, reputations and even lives through the course of the 13 produced episodes on the DVDs.

The good news is that the writers knew the series was being cancelled and were able to conclude the initial story arc; the bad news is that we will never find out who exactly was talking to Jaye (or if she was actually suffering from a mental illness).

Either way, the acting in this series was absolutely superb, particularly from Tracie Thoms ("Rent," "Cold Case") as Jaye's best friend and the venerable William Sadler ("The Shawshank Redemption," "Roswell") as her caring but aloof father.

The other two were * Mission Hill and * Greg the Bunny.

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