Having caught the first episode of Tru Calling when it originally aired, I was intrigued. I caught bits and pieces of the show here and there, but never enough to be able to follow it and not enough to goad me into making the effort to tape it. Therefore, I was looking forward to catching it on DVD and being able to watch Season One from start to finish without those pesky commercial interruptions.
Before I say anything else, here’s a word about those pesky commercial interruptions: The commercials are, of course, excised from the DVD — but not the interruptions. Each advertising break is clearly marked by a quick montage of what’s happened or/and what’s coming up. Who’s bright idea was it to leave those in? Do they really think we DVD viewers need to know where the commercials once were?
Now, back to our regularly scheduled review. The stories follow our heroine, Tru Davies (Eliza Dushku), and her frequent trips back in time to save those who would have otherwise died untimely deaths. (For fans of Early Edition, The Dead Zone and Quantum Leap: Don’t get your hopes up for Tru Calling.)
The Mac makeup-wearing, bone-thin Tru developed the uncanny power to hear the thoughts of the dead at her murdered mother’s funeral when she was only 12 — 10 years later, she is working in a morgue and working her magic. Whenever a cadaver is wheeled in — one that wasn’t ready to be toe-tagged yet — it speaks to Tru and cryptically pleads for her help. Yep, even though the poor soul has crossed the barrier from death to life and defied the time-space continuum, all it can say is ‘help me’. There is not a lot in the way of instruction for our put-upon heroine. Tru finds out who the person is, goes home, goes to sleep, and wakes up one day in the past. Now she must track down the soon-to-be teats-up victim and try to ensure that they live through the day.
Quite a lot of Tru’s time is spent running at top speed along city streets (what, she can afford a cell-phone but not a bus pass?) or dealing with her gambling-addicted brother (Shawn Reaves) and cocaine-addicted sister (Jessica Collins). Unfortunately, what could be a show with very cool, creepy supernatural aspects are clouded by soapy, everyday problems — aside from the dysfunctional family intrusions, Tru also works her way through several romantic entanglements and verbally spars with her best friend (A.J. Cook) and her boss (Zach Galifianakis). This is one girl with a very, very busy schedule — and she never gets even one measly day ahead!
While it’s not nearly as suspenseful as one might like, perhaps Tru Calling’s worst call was the writers’ decision to make the show entirely serious. A little humor (ala Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Dushku’s previous acting home) would have gone a long ways in making Tru Calling a keeper. As it is, it’s an OK show for fans of Dushku or those who like their supernatural TV shows more natural than super.
The DVD has some deleted scenes, many of which feature actors whose scenes were cut entirely (so finally, their moms can see them on a primetime TV show), and some commentary on selected episodes.
“Pilot” with optional commentary by Creator/Executive Producer Jon Harmon Feldman, Executive Producer Dawn Parouse, Actors Eliza Dushku and Shawn Reaves.
Putting Out Fires, Brother’s Keeper, Past Tense.
Disc 2, Episodes:
Haunted, Star Crossed, Morning After, Closure.
Disc 3, Episodes:
Murder in the Morgue, Reunion, Valentine.
Disc 4, Episodes:
Drop Dead Gorgeous, The Getaway, Two Pair, and Daddy’s Girl (with optional commentary by Creator/Executive Producer Jon Harmon Feldman, Actors Eliza Dushku and Zach Galifianakis).
Disc 5, Episodes:
Death Becomes Her, Rear Window, D.O.A.
Episode: Two Weddings and a Funeral (with optional commentary by Creator/Executive Producer Jon Harmon Feldman, Actors Eliza Dushku and Zach Galifianakis).
Three featurettes: “Finding the Calling,” “The Tru Path,” and “Evil Comes Calling.” Deleted scenes with optional commentary by Creator/Executive Producer Jon Harmon Feldman. And a Music Video: “Somebody Help Me” by Full Blown Rose.
Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson