recent adventures in online research...
While researching a longish piece on The Killing (delayed by breaking news in daytime soaps, along with the final episode of Friday Night Lights and the cancellation of Men of a Certain Age), I was scrolling through IMdB to find out when Michelle Forbes played Sonni/Solita on Guiding Light, when I came across a show I’ve never heard of, Wonderland, and saw familiar name – Lyla Garrity – Dr. Lyla Garrity. But, Lyla Garrity’s not a doctor. She’s Buddy Garrity’s daughter on Friday Night Lights. She graduated from Dillon High School, is currently a student at Vanderbilt, and, oh yeah, on FNL, Lyla Garrity’s played by Minka Kelly, not Michelle Forbes. So, click...
Turns out that Wonderland was a short-lived drama ABC cancelled after two episodes back in 2000. And Wonderland was created by Peter Berg who also created FNL, so the name thing makes sense; after all, Brothers and Sister’s executive producer, Greg Berlanti, honored his short-lived show, Jack and Bobby, by naming Rob Lowe’s character Robert McCallister and his ex-wife, Courtney.
Mystery solved, time to get back to work Of course, a show canceled after only two episodes, created – written, directed and executive produced – by the FNL guy; probably a show I would have liked. So, I scroll down to the comments to see what I missed eleven years ago.
First comment – a question, really – “Does anyone know where to see this online?” Probably not, I think to myself, hopefully. But worth checking out, right? Rhetorical question. Click... Damn it, there’s a link to Hulu. Not hot, so cut, paste, click... And, there they are: all eight episodes. Click... Wow! There’s a pre-Monk Ted Levine, and Patricia Clarkson. The show’s set in the psychiatric ward of a public hospital; since it’s shot in NYC – on speed – think Bellevue. Almost ten years later, a passing image of the twin towers still has the power to jar.
An hour later, click again... I’m trying to pace myself here. But, I’m fascinated; I don’t know how I missed this show. Of course, had I known, I would have been really pissed because Wonderland meets my “brilliant, but canceled” criteria – layered storytelling that challenges viewers with tight, intense writing showing flawed, but intriguing characters. So, I start poking around, click... click... click...and eventually come across an interview with Peter Berg in which he explains that his first crush was Lyla Garrity, his dentist’s daughter. By this time, three, okay, three-and-a-half hours, have passed and it’s time to head to the pool.
Next day, I’m back at my desk. Since time's run out for both FNL and Men of a Certain Age, a little stash of serialized storytelling should be something to look forward to; but those remaining six episodes at Hulu are calling to me like a piece of chocolate cake I hid in the back of the fridge. So, I click... And click again... The forth episode, “Full Moon,” confuses me. The first two episodes revolved around the schizophrenic character Lyla Garrity misevaluated and released, who then went on to kill several characters before committing suicide in the second episode. And yet, here he is in episode four, and his interaction with Dr. Garrity clearly predates the first episode. Or maybe things are not so clear. One of the other shrinks is hallucinating after accidently taking a patient’s meds. It’s a full moon. So, maybe the whole episode’s really about altered perception. Anyway, I need to figure out if the show’s actually working backwards in time. So, click...click...click...click...
And the guest stars, so many familiar faces from the Law & Order franchises: Jay O. Sanders, Tovah Feldshuh – Giancarlo Esposito chewing the scenery as multiple personalities. I recognize Peter Bartlett from One Life to Live, but can’t remember the name of the actor playing his partner. So, back to IMdB, click... where the cast lists are sketchy, at best. I’m a little frustrated, not to mention emotionally drained. Turns out the show’s not working backward at all. And while the final episode is completely unexpected, and may well reflect Michelle Forbes’ preference for short-term gigs, there would have been more than enough story to tell had the show returned for a second season.
Another work day pretty much shot. And, as if blowing through my small stash of serialized storytelling wasn’t bad enough, Hulu has a recommendation – a show already on my “brilliant, but canceled” list – Eli Stone. Thanks. But, then I remember something the hospital’s PR guy said to Lyla Garrity early in the second episode. He described the events leading to the release of the schizophrenic patient as, “a total system failure,” which, as it happens, is the title of my piece about The Killing. Symmetry? Irony? Or, maybe just coincidence. In any case, I’ll get back to work after a few days on the Cape.
© 2011 Lynn Liccardo
Limited Licensing: I, Lynn Liccardo, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under the Creative Commons Attribution license, granting distribution of my copyrighted work without making changes, with mandatory attribution to Lynn Liccardo and for non-commercial purposes only.
Causes lynn liccardo Supports