From Aintitcool.comDushku’s TRU!! Will it do??
By Mr Blonde
Saturday 28 June 2003, by Webmaster
The "Angel"-"Firefly" team of Joss Whedon and Tim Minear apparently pitched "Faith the vampire slayer on a motorcycle," but Eliza Dushku decided to pursue another supernatural drama, Fox’s "Tru Calling," instead. "Tru Calling," from writer-producers Jon Feldman ("The Wonder Years," "Dawson’s Creek," "Roswell," "American Dreams") and Doug Petrie (a 5-year "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" vet who did not work on the pilot reviewed here), is about a hot morgue attendant and former track star who discovers she has the ability to go back in time one day to prevent horrible occurances. Dushku’s co-stars include Jessica Collins ("Catch Me If You Can"), A.J. Cook ("The Virgin Suicides," "Final Destination 2") and Zach Galifianakis ("Corky Romano," "Below"). Starting this autumn, it begins airing 8 p.m. Thursdays on Fox, opposite "Survivor," "Friends," "Scrubs" and "WWE Smackdown." Which I surmise means not a ton of people will be watching "Tru Calling." One reviewer (a young "Buffy" fan) gives a "B-" and says, "It’s defiantly no ’Buffy’. It’s not even as good as the ’Dark Angel’ pilot. But its better than most in this field." Another calls it "pretty good. I wasn’t thrilled with it (verges on somewhat boring) but it’s good enough and most Faith/[Eliza Dushku] fans should be happy with it (just as I was)." Another calls it "a dummyfied episode-based series with no big metaplot driving it." "Pimp Daddy" writes: The Bad (there is lots of good so read on)-
Ok, lets start with characterization. It’s actually pretty good in two cases and not so good in two other cases, Tru lies in the middle somewhere.
The two bad characterizations being Tru’s best friend (who of course is madly in love with her but she’s unaware and basically he’s her bitch considering he’s only there for information and to look all sad when she doesn’t notice him) and her college professor/guy she’s screwing/guy she might love, not sure. Her best friend is the nerd, basically he sits at a computer for the majority of the episode talking down a phone to her giving her information on the woman she’s trying to help (i.e. where she lives, bullet wounds etc), that’s pretty much him summed up, no development. Oh and he’s not really the stereotypical nerd which I guess is a step in the right direction. The professor just seems to be there to smile and make some smart ass comment (or one liners- whichever, "congratulations yesterday you were a ethic violation, today you’re a faculty girlfriend."), he’s there briefly but he manages to stay 2 dimensional throughout.
As much as it pains me to say it, Eliza just cannot do much that can be categorized as "happy". Throughout the episode there are scenes (family dinners, drinks with friends), which require her to smile and be happy, some work better then others but the majority of the scenes seem forced. Imagine Sarah Michelle Geller doing all the fake sobbing in Triangle when she thinks that Xander and Anya are going to break up…well it’s not that bad but it’s nearly on the same level. ED manages to smile and look good in the scenes, but take them at face value only; if you think about it too hard you’ll think that there’s a gun being held to her head.
Minor but it’ll probably change, the theme tune, no rock (Buffy), no techno/electric (Alias), no band I’ve never heard of (CSI), just some guys banging some bins by the sound of it.
Dialogue. It’s not that bad, I mean there are some good one-liners, but in some cases (such as the scene where Tru tries to warn the woman (Calisto from Xena…what?! We all have leather clad pleasures…) that she’s going to die) it did seem off, however it only really matters if you really paid attention as it tends to flow very well.
Tru, she’s not a bad character, just a somewhat confusing one. Is she tough? Rough? Caring? Scared? I mean she’s all of the above so it’s hard to tell how the hell she feels which makes it interesting if you’re looking for some solid development, but sort of confusing for the rest.
The good characterization being Tru’s brother and sister, as soon as the episode starts you got a one impression of them, but as Tru relives the day they develop a lot more. The sister starts out as a drug addict. The brother is a gambler. As the episode plays out you see that the sister is a stressed worker in some office hence the drugs. The brother isn’t a bad guy, just your run of the mill little brother who likes his money and women (I swear they just needed some fur and he could have been a pimp).
While Eliza’s acting is off in the "happy" scenes, she’s spot on and fantastic in the morgue scenes as well as the majority of the episode (ranging from investigating to confronting "the killer").
Use of music, there is a lot, but it uses it in a similar way that Alias does (during action) and it works to a level or where it’s not too annoying but just enough. Welcomed in some scenes.
The directing is great, Philip Noyce (guy who did that porn film with Sharon Stone and William Baldwin) uses a variety of camera techniques, this might not mean much to you but it looks fantastic. For instance the description mentions Run Lola Run, this is very fitting considering how much running around Tru does (and who wouldn’t if you were trying to stop someone being killed?), but someone cynical knows ED isn’t running very fast, but the directing says otherwise. The small things make the pilot great (here’s hoping he does more episodes). Putting aside the camera techniques directing in general is great (like zooming in on the body one second and then rapidly backing away into another shot and then another, that was cool).
The episode plays out just like CSI (will go into detail in the proper review), I must admit I had thought I knew who the killer was 10 mins into the episode only to be tricked a couple more times, that was unexpected. The plot wasn’t as smart as the ones you get on CSI, but it’s smart enough. Besides this is a little more character driven then CSI so there’s less to do on the actual crime.
Acting. Most of the cast are relative newcomers, had I not looked over the credits I wouldn’t have known because they’re all pretty good. Great casting.
The mystery behind why Tru relives the day or even why "dead people speak to her" isn’t touched upon; they jump right into the actual case at hand, which is good and bad. I for one hadn’t noticed until the end so it has to be a good thing, I mean if they kept me interested long enough for me to realise that this whole reliving a day shouldn’t even be happening, that has to be a good thing. However I can see why some might be disappointed that we aren’t told why.
Tru not wasting too much time trying to get to grips with reliving the day is welcomed. Though she does struggle at times she doesn’t spend too much time and eventually rushes off to save the woman.
The show also has some darkish humour, think Six Feet under, only heavily watered down, but still funny. When the first body is brought into the morgue the guy who wheels her in tells Tru is she’s looking for a place the woman had a nice one-bed room apartment, so it’s not Emmy worthy, it wasn’t bad.
The comparison to CSI is not over exaggerated. As I said this plays out just like CSI, right down to the zooming in on body parts and quick cut scenes (there’s even a scene where you see the bullet hit the woman, not bullet time but right into her neck so we can see the blood…) and of course there’s the crime solving. There are even blurry flashbacks and quick cuts, which are like the flashbacks on CSI (such as Tru’s brother telling her he wasn’t playing card all night, we cut to a fast blurry scene (5secs) of him playing cards all night).
Along with Alias (though to be honest, the Alias similarities are no where near as big as the CSI ones, I mean the only one really being that both shows are "stylish" and glossy), CSI and Groundhog day this has a 6th sense thing going for it. She sees and hears dead people; along with that she relives the day so she can save their lives. In more detail, she graduates from college (hence why going out with her professor is "ok" now), she expects to get work at a hospital (she did a medical degree), only that falls through so she ends up working at a morgue. She works in a part of the morgue where unnatural deaths go (suicides, murder etc), hence why she’s going to be visited by a lot of ghouls wanting her to save them. Of course this only applies to people who were killed in the last 24 hours as she only has a day to relive.
Where do we go from here (no I haven’t burst into song)? Besides saving someone weekly, what else will happen? By the end of the pilot there are only two plots going on, saving people weekly and something to do with her sister which she couldn’t help despite reliving the day (no she isn’t dead), it hasn’t really got me that gripped. Maybe they’ll do more with the characters or something? Whatever they do I can’t help but feel that they’re a little limited when it comes to following up. Of course they could explore why she hears dead people but that could probably only last so long.
The pilot I watched had the words, NOT FOR TV, slapped right in the middle (which didn’t bother me that much), so maybe things will change when they get to air, however in my opinion not that much needs to be changed (hint hint, good sign!).
Just some minor problems but here’s hoping she can’t do kung fu, near the end she kicks a gun out of someone’s hand, it’s not really "kung fu" but I really would prefer a more human approach as to going around kicking various asses.
If you don’t want another Buffy& Alias (you of course realise you’re going to hell) then this one is for you. She doesn’t really have any super strength (putting aside "the kick") and the show is grounded in reality putting aside the supernatural twist (which I didn’t really notice or pay much attention to).
ED’s acting in the happy scenes and some development are really the only flaws, the show is pretty good. I wasn’t thrilled with it (verges on somewhat boring) but it’s good enough and most Faith/ED fans should be happy with it (just as I was). Hopefully it will survive being scheduled against Friends. 3/5
"And The Trails Led To A Frozen Lake" writes: Tru calling is a series about a young woman "Tru", played by Eliza Dushku, who travels back a day to right the wrongs. She graduates from High School in this first episode, and plans for a future in med-school. She gets a night time job at the morgue since she loses the job as a hospital assistant. The premise is very boring compared to all the other "go-back-in-time"-series. The dead speak to her, and she wakes up living the same day over again. No reason or foreshadowing of a grander purpose is given, leading me to believe this is a dummyfied episode-based series with no big metaplot driving it. This is sad, as the episode doesn’t give us anything we haven’t seen before. Quantum Leap, Early Edition, and even Seven Days had something at least vaguely unique. The short intro sequence is an annoyingly blinking series of images, mostly of Eliza running. And that is how she moves from place to place, starting from the first act. Her boyfriend even creates a cgi version of her running, apparently planning on making a video game, with Tru as the star. This cgi clip is also looped with the other running images during the intro and scene changes. I guess a bicycle wouldn’t have been as cool. The episode does have nice eye candy as Dushku is of course very nice as always, and the dead person of the day is Hudson Leick, better know as Callisto from Xena. None of the apparently regular characters shine through, she has two siblings, who are both addicts, one to drugs and one to gambling. Her boyfriend is a video game programmer, so he googles her whatever information she requires. This series is basically Early Edition without the newspaper.
I’ll watch it for a few episodes to see if it becomes atleast minimally interesting, but I’m not keeping my hopes up. Call me "And the trails led to a frozen lake"
"Mr. Blonde" writes: The name of the series is "Tru Calling". It gets that unique spelling, because Eliza plays the character of "Tru" Davies. The original title was "Heroine", but FOX decided that audiences couldn’t distinguish from a female hero, "Heroine" and the drug, "Heroin". Personally, I think the name is stupid, but that just my opinion. Tru is a very recently graduated co-ed, with dreams of becoming a doctor. We learn early on that Tru’s mother died when she was young, leaving her to her dad, older sister and younger brother. She also swears that she talked to her mother as she was lying in the coffin. Anyway, back to present day, where we learn that Tru is no longer close to her family. Her brother Harrison (Shawn Reeves, not much in the way of former credits) is a gambling addict and her sister Meredith (Jessica Reeves, short-lived WB series "Off Centre" and NBC’s American Dreams) is a financially successful, recovering coke addict, whose apparently back on the nose candy. Her father is not even mentioned. Also, Tru has decided to take an internship at a hospital because she needs the money and she is told it will look good on her application to med-school. However, the job is canceled, but she is offered a new job at the city morgue, beginning immediately in the grave-yard shift. Her boss is played by comedian Zach Galifianakis, who’s short lived VH1 talk-show I actually enjoyed. He’s not very funny here, but I don’t think his character is supposed to be. Anyway, she is informed that her particular section of the morgue is for, dot da da daaaa, the "Unnatural Deaths"(i.e. homicides and suicides). Isn’t that just the spookiest? Her first night on the job, she is assigned her first dead body. After she touches it, she gets transported back in time to the morning of this person’s death, in order to be able find out how they died, and stop it. Oh, Tru also has two friends, Lindsey (A.J. Cooke, "Final Destination 2") and Cameron (Heath Freeman, no real previous works), who I guess will help her solve her mysteries. Now, on to the pilot itself:
First off, I don’t know if this will be shown as the first episode. I say this because, through out the episode the words "Not For Air" appeared across the screen. Whether this was stating that this wont be the first episode, or just a tool to discourage pirating, I don’t know. Back to the pilot, the show opens with a dark-haired, 12 year old girl, standing over a woman’s coffin. This is, of course, Tru attending her mothers funeral. She goes to sit down next to her older sister Meredith, and says her mothers corpse talked to her. Mary (as she is referred to) does not believe her. Cut to ten years later. Tru is going to her college graduation, but her father and siblings don’t show up. Soon after, we learn that Tru has been having an affair with one of her professors. A young and good looking guy who, for occupation reasons, has kept their relationship secret. But, now that shes graduated, he wants to make there relationship public. Anyway, following the learning of some back-story that I already mention in the plot summary, we learn that it’s the anniversary of her mothers death. Tru learns her sister is using again due to the pain of this anniversary, and her brother gets beat up by gansters whom he lost money to while gambling, but couldn’t pay them back. Later, Tru gets her first corpse, a young woman who was shot in the back of the head, but they don’t know by whom. Right after this, she is taken back to that morning. After some confusion, she discovers what has happened, and sets out to save the girl. Is the killer her married, abusive, businessman fling, or the nice, high-school coach, ex-boyfriend. Or is it someone else? Anyway, she solves the case with the help of Harrison, who is a computer game designer, so he luckily knows about stuff like guns because of his violent games(wow, what a luck coincidence), saves her brother from catching an ass-woopin, and tries to stop her sis from going all Tony Montana. I saw a lot of small similarities between this pilot and "Buffy". Whether they were actually there, or if I was just looking for them, I don’t know. Here they are, anyway. First, our main character is a seemingly normal girl with a silly name, who is actually much, much more. Tru doesn’t have slayer strength, but she talks to dead people and goes back in time. She also has lost her mother, and has an absentee father. Also, her best friend Harrison is a dark-haired, geeky-but-still-kinda-good-looking guy, who is secretly in love with our heroine. He even secretly created a computer game with her as the star. I’m guessing Lindsey will end up being the Willow type. Also, we learned that Tru used to be a track-star, so she goes around trying to save people by running across town, really, really fast. This running is spliced with quick images of other scenes.The director clearly watched "Run Lola Run" before writing these scenes. Either that, or the first few eps of "Buffy" Season 7. I can only hope that Tru eventually buys a car or atleast a bike, otherwise some of her missions are gonna be screwed. There were some other things, but I think I’ve already written too much. My critique is this, Dushku does a pretty decent job on her own. This plot has definite potential for interesting story-lines if good-enough writers are found. Some of the back-story like her family trouble (A drug addicted sibling! For Christs sake!) is kinda cheesy, but so be it. We dont see that much from the costars, particularly the best friends. Infact A.J. Cook is only in one scene of the pilot, so I cant really critique any other performances. My main problem is the way in which Tru travels back in time. How does she travel back? I have NO FUCKING CLUE! It’s never disclosed or even intimated at. She opens the door to a corpse-locker and woosh, back to this morning. Will the amount of time always be the same, I don’t know. It wasn’t 24 hours, or even 12. It was somewhere in between. Also, we don’t know why she is able to talk to dead people. The only kinda-explanation given is that shes a "good listener." What the fuck is that! Oh well. As for my grade for the pilot: In this particular genre, I’d give it a B-. It’s defiantly no "Buffy". It’s not even as good as the "Dark Angel" pilot. But its better than most in this field. I don’t know if it will survive, given its Thursday at 8 timeslot and reliance uppon younger viewers, but I hope it does. It could be a fun, sci-fi ride and I’ll be watching. After all, "Friends" sucks!