Written & Directed by Various
Created by Jon Harmon Feldman
I highly doubt anybody will be spoiled but beware!
I was wandering around a cut-price music and DVD shop a couple of weeks ago when I spied a copy of the ‘Tru Calling: Complete Series’ boxset sitting on a shelf next to some of the original deluxe boxsets of ‘Buffy’ and ‘Angel’. Believe me this is not a normal occurrence in this day-and-age and it was a major trip down memory lane.
The original pilot for ‘Tru Calling’ had appeared online the summer that I was prepping to move away to university and from there friends and I struggled to get hold of episodes on our blocked network in halls of residence but we did and we watched it religiously.
The premise: Tru Davies lost her mum at a very young age. All grown up she’s preparing to go to medical school when her work placement gets ripped out from underneath her. Forced to work graveyard shifts at the morgue she discovers a weird new ability… the dead ask her for help and she’s transported back 24 hours and given the chance to save them.
‘Tru Calling’ was one of the first post-‘Buffy’ shows to his network TV. It would be a year until ‘Lost’ would come along and revolutionise serialised TV and left behind on The CW ‘Angel’ was struggling and about to find itself cancelled.
‘Tru Calling’ has gone on to become a bit of a cult hit, not due in-part to the fact the final episode of its incredibly short six episode second season failed to air until almost three years after the previous episode had premiered. At the time fans clamoured to get copies of the second season which had not aired properly in other territories. I ended up catching copies from New Zealand if memory serves.
What was the problem with ‘Tru Calling’ I hear you ask? Inconsistency would be my answer. I never felt there was a lack of quality to the show it was just that it was somewhat derivative and a little generic. Stories were often predictable and so there was a lack of suspense which could have elevated the show to much higher acclaim.
All TV shows suffer a little in their first season when trying to find what works and what doesn’t and ‘Tru Calling’ was no different. Going back and reading quotes and interviews with cast and crew it’s not hard to notice there is a whiff of network involvement which clearly affected the kind of show that was conceived compared to what appeared on screen.
There’s a very interesting piece of trivia on the shows IMDB.com page, the story is uncorroborated but seems to echo comments made in other interviews:
At the The University of Colorado at Boulder’s 57th Annual Conference on World Affairs in 2005, star Eliza Dushku‘s mother Judith Dushku (a Professor of Government at Suffolk University) told a story about her daughter’s growing dissatisfaction with the writing and her character as the show went on. According to Mrs. Dushkhu, Eliza had been promised that Tru Calling would be another “strong girl” show, in the tradition of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and that her character would be a role model for young women. However, by about the sixth episode, Eliza was calling her mother to complain about egregiously weak and dumb traits in her character. Examples given by Mrs. Dushku include: an argument that Eliza had with the showrunners because she refused to play a scene in which Tru did not know what a map was (and she had to have a man tell her) and Eliza being told that Tru shouldn’t be seen studying for her MCATs (even though she was supposed to be a medical student). Eliza also made a list of all the script instructions written to describe Tru’s state of mind, and they always included words like “overwhelmed,” “surprised,” “shocked,” and “bewildered,” but never instructions for Tru to be strong, confident, or sure of herself.
It doesn’t paint a great picture of a harmonious set and strong production team but nevertheless the show still comes off an enjoyable and is often discussed in high regards by fans of genre TV.
The complete series DVD features – as the title suggests – both the first and second seasons of the show including the previously unaired series finale. Despite the way that Fox shrugged the series off the air without a second thought the box set is nicely put together and the packaging is one of the better designs of its time.
Note for UK fans: the second season had not aired at this stage so those purchasing the first pressing of this boxset will have a sticker on the cover stating ‘includes: six episodes never before seen on UK TV’
The slip-cover gives way to a heavy duty book made up of wraparound artwork and eight disc holders which make up the internal pages. Discs 1-6 make up season 1 whilst 7 and 8 complete the series.
There’s also a nice booklet giving a synopsis on each episode and also listing the bonus features.
Features include: deleted scenes of which there are over 20; four featurettes, a music video for the shows theme tune and also an easter egg.
As Fox took the time and effort to give this show a great home video presentation it would be good to see them put a similar effort in to re-releasing this show on Blu-Ray.
For fans of Eliza’s work on ‘Buffy’, ‘Angel’ and most recently ‘Dollhouse’ this set is a brilliant addition to your collection. For fans of nostalgic early 00’s genre TV this is a perfect example of a show cut down before its time.