12 DAYS OF CHRISTAMS REVIEW: TRU CALLING: TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS…AGAIN

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CAST
Eliza Dushku (Buffy)
Zach Galifanakis (The Hangover)
Shawn Reeves (Dandelion)
Jason Preistley (Haven)
GUEST CAST
Liz Vassey (Two and a Half Men)
Cotter Smith (Alias)
Eric Christian Olsen (Not Another Teen Movie)
Lizzy Caplan (Mean Girls)
Parry Shen (The New Guy)
Michael Reilly Burke (Mars Attacks)
Sue Cremin (The Tao of Steve)
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Befitting the last episode of the formula-breaking second season, “Twas the Night Before Christmas … Again” once again threw Tru into an unknown situation with her case of the week. On the one hand, this further engaged the audience and kept them guessing what would happen because of this new set of circumstances, but on the other hand, it also lowered the stakes for this particular case and created a more mellow episode than what we have grown accustomed to. The series did not go out with a bang, but it did go out on an intriguing note. Overall, this makeshift series finale partially satisfied the audience while still leaving room to imagine what happened next. must give props to the writers for coming up with six consecutive stories this short season that each took a different approach to the victim needing help. Each came with their additional challenges, and each still felt organic to the individual victim. My major note of praise is that these diversions from the first season did not feel like a ploy to attract more audience members or simply shock the already committed audience, but rather they were a natural progression of Tru’s gift.
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Other than the unique nature of the case and watching Tru and Jack team up, the story itself was rather lackluster. The murder of a mistress and her lover being suspected of the crime is a story we have seen time and time again across different procedurals, as well as a child taking revenge against his or her parent’s murderer. At least this episode added another layer of mystery by having both of these common stories piled on top of one another. Although this episode did a sufficient job diverting attention from the true murderer in both cases, the reveals were still not as shocking or unique as they could have been. One wonderful, long-awaited aspect that this episode delved into was mending the relationship between Tru and Jack. While they should not be friends because of their opposite jobs, they should have a mutual respect and understanding that the other is simply trying to carry out that job which he/she has been chosen for. This episode provided minor indications that they were headed in this direction. Tru came closer to understanding that Jack is not the monster she claimed he originally was, and Jack sees that Tru does more good than just saving the victim. Whether it was because of their team up or the holiday season, the episode’s conclusion especially allowed these two rivals to end on a peaceful note. “Twas the Night Before Christmas … Again” concluded Tru Calling in a calm way. It did not leave off on a massive cliffhanger with any character in mortal danger. For the first time in a while, Tru was happy with her friends, family, and love life, while Harrison was making a solid name for himself. Davis was also happy, though it was a false happiness on his girlfriend’s part. Despite these positives, it did leave the audience with several lingering questions, especially regarding the future of Tru’s secret. Having this episode rewind before Harrison could tell Tru about their father’s involvement with Jack gave us a glimpse of a potential future storyline, but ripped it away with no indication if it would in fact come true later down the line.
This episode ended Tru Calling, it’s a decent episode but as a series finale it was lacking but that was not the fault of the writers as the season was meant to have 13 episodes not 6 ,but fox pulled the plug.
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REVIEW:TRU CALLING – SEASON 1 & 2

MAIN CAST

Eliza Dushku (Wrong Turn)
Shawn Reaves (Shadowheart)
Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover)
A.J. Cook (Final Destination 2)
Jessica Collins (Lois & Clark)
Benjamin Benitez (True Detective)
Jason Priestley (Beverly Hills, 90210)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Matthew Bomer (Chuck)
Kristopher Polaha (Ringer)
Hudson Leick (Xena)
Heath Freeman (Bones)
John Newton (Superboy)
Callum Rennie (Flashforward)
Michael Trucco (Battlestar Galactica)
Missy Peregrym (Heroes)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met YOur Mother)
Joe Flanigan (Stargate: Atlantis)
Leonard Roberts (Smallville)
Kal Penn (Van Wilder)
Alaina Huffman (Stargate Universe)
Brendan Fletcher (News Movie)
Evangeline Lilly (Lost)
Ryan Kwanten (True Blood)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane)
Garwin Sanford (Stargate SG.1)
Chris William Martin (The Vampire Diaries)
Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)
Emily Holmes (Dark Angel)
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (The Vampire Diaries)
Jennifer Spence (Stargate Universe)
Devon Gummersall (Roswell)
Sarah Deakins (Andromeda)
Clare Kramer (Buffy)
Alexandra Holden (The Hot Chick)
Michelle Harrison (The Flash)
Erica Durance (Smallville)
Rachel Hayward (Jingle All The Way 2)
Cotter Smith (Alias)
Wade Williams (Gangster Squad)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
Alec Newman (Dune)
Jesse Moss (Ginger Snaps)
Derek Hamilton (Disturbing Behavior)
Nick Wechsler (Roswell)
Daivd Lipper (Full house)
John Reardon (The Killing)
Carly Pope (Arrow)
Liz Vassey (Two and a Half Men)
Eric Christian Olsen (Not Another Teen Movie)
Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield)
Parry Shen (Hatchet)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Dominic Zamprogna (Odyssey 5)
Maggie Lawson (Two and a Half Men)
William Sadler (Iron Man 3)

Image result for tru callingAfter the grant sponsoring her internship loses funding, an aspiring medical student (Tru Davies) takes a job at the local morgue. On her first day of work, incidentally the 10th anniversary of her mother’s death, one of the bodies from the crypt springs to life for a brief moment and asks her for help. Instantly, her day “rewinds” and she quickly realizes that it’s her responsibility to try and save the woman who called out to her from a death that should not have happened, all the while trying to repair the lives of her immature brother and drug-addicted sister. With the help of her clumsy but loveable boss at the morgue, Tru strives to put right what once when wrong and hoping each time that her next leap will be the leap home.

Eliza Dushku played prominent characters in a few popular films before Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but it was her portrayal of Faith in the 3rd season of the popular television show that helped set her on the path to becoming a star. It’s understandable, then, that fans of the show were not particularly happy with her when she turned down a chance for a television series based around the Faith character in favor of Tru Calling. However, it’s equally understandable that as an actor, she would want to try new things, and carrying an unproven series with a new character offered her that opportunity.

On the surface, Tru Calling is a formula show. Borrowing elements from Quantum Leap, Early Edition and Goundhog Day, each episode follows a similar pattern. A body arrives in the morgue and asks for help triggering a rewind before the opening titles, and Tru spends the rest of the episode trying to piece together what caused the death and how to prevent it. The premise sounds interesting enough, but without clever writing and entertaining characters, such a concept could get stale very quickly, especially over an entire television season. Thankfully, the show’s creators appear to recognize this early on and make efforts to tweak the formula just enough to keep the stories fresh and interesting.

As with any show that hopes to build an audience, Tru Calling is not just about the “Death of the Week.” While it is the focus of each episode, not every day is a rewind, and Tru still has a life of her own and a family she cares about. The death of their mother and subsequent remarriage and general absence of their father has made things difficult on the Davies family, and Tru is struggling to keep them together. This is not an easy task as her sister Meredith (Jessica Collins) is a fast-paced businesswoman in denial over her drug habit, and her brother Harrison (Shawn Reaves) has a bit of a responsibility problem. And what superhero story would be complete without the lead character’s romantic relationships suffering from the strains of a secret double-life? Certainly not this one. All the pieces are there, including the loveable but awkward mentor (Zach Galifianakis) who always seems to know just a little more than he lets on.

The character of Tru is likeable and well meaning, and as she comes to empathize with those she is trying to help, the audience cannot help but do the same. Offsetting much of the dramatic tension is quite a bit of humor with Shawn Reaves’s performance as Harrison. He’s a complete screw-up, but he’s so charming and creative (not to mention very loyal to Tru) that his misadventures are a continuing source of entertainment. Equally effective is Davis who, although clumsy in his interactions with others, serves as a surrogate older brother and sounding board for Tru, something she desperately needs considering the double burden she carries.

Tru Calling is an excellent example of a television series that can flourish if given time to grow. Many of the early episodes aren’t anything special. They’re a bit predictable and formulaic, but underneath them is a level of quality worth exploring. As they find their rhythm and tweak the show a bit, everything falls into place, and by the season finale, it’s a pretty darn good show. While Eliza Dushku is a capable actress and portrays Tru very well, much of the show’s quality can be attributed to outstanding performances by the supporting cast, most notably Zach Galifianakis and Shawn Reaves, as well as the addition of Jason Priestley, who elevates the show to another level. What he brings to the character and the show is both nuanced and compelling, and it’s fascinating to watch him on screen.

The second season only offered a very brief six episodes before being pulled.  Once again, the season continues to improve over the early goings, ratcheting up the tension between Jack and Tru, which is effective due to the chemistry between the two and the fact that Priestley’s menacing performance is his finest work. It’s really too bad that the series couldn’t have at least finished out this second season, as it continued to improve and the final episode here really isn’t much of a conclusion.