Looking Back At TRU CALLING (2003) - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Looking Back At TRU CALLING (2003)

On the face of it, the premise of 'Tru Calling' might seem like a mashup of genre fiction themes we've seen before: the burden of a supernatural gift, the whirlwind of repeating days, and the moral imperatives of altering fate. Yet, when this show first graced our screens on October 30, 2003, it managed to breathe fresh life into these themes, drawing in a dedicated fanbase and leaving a lasting mark on television history.

'Tru Calling' centered around the journey of Tru Davies, a young medical student turned morgue attendant, whose life takes a surreal turn when she discovers she has the power to relive days. It's not as simple as déjà vu; she is tasked with the purpose of preventing wrongful deaths. Eliza Dushku, fresh off the iconic series 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer', stepped into Tru's shoes with a riveting performance that was both strong-willed and vulnerable.

Every time a corpse would utter the words "help me" to Tru, she found herself waking up to the start of that day, with full knowledge of the events yet to transpire, and a mission to alter the outcome. This added an element of procedural drama to the show, with each episode often focusing on a new person she had to save. The overarching narrative though delved deep into the implications of playing with time and fate, as well as the emotional and psychological impact on Tru, who often found herself isolated due to her secret.

But 'Tru Calling' wasn't alone in its narrative style. Groundhog Day-esque scenarios have been explored in movies and TV before. However, Tru's odyssey was somewhat reminiscent of early episodes of 'Quantum Leap', where Dr. Sam Beckett would find himself in someone else's life with a mission to right historical wrongs. But while Beckett leaped into different lives, Tru stayed firmly in her own, challenged by her own relationships, ethics, and the constant race against time.

The show was brought to life by the creative forces of Jon Harmon Feldman and Doris Egan. While Feldman previously dabbled in teen dramas with 'Dawson's Creek', it was 'Tru Calling' that allowed him to seamlessly integrate the supernatural with the emotional growth of a young woman. On the other hand, Egan, known for her work on 'House', added layers of medical and moral complexities to the narrative.

Eliza Dushku's role as Tru is perhaps the most recognizable aspect of the series, but the supporting cast was equally commendable. Shawn Reaves played Tru's brother, Harrison, a foil to her conscientious character, often leaning towards a hedonistic lifestyle. Zach Galifianakis, now a household name thanks to 'The Hangover' series, was seen in a dramatically different avatar as Davis, the morgue's supervisor and Tru's confidante.

Interesting tidbits emerge when you peek behind the curtain of 'Tru Calling's production. The show was primarily shot in Vancouver, Canada, a location that has played host to numerous shows due to its versatile architecture and scenic beauty. Moreover, the series had initially been conceived with a slightly different tone, leaning more towards the horror genre. It was only after Dushku's casting that it evolved into a more character-driven drama.

While the premise and execution were commendable, viewing figures presented a mixed bag. The series debuted to a viewership of just over 4 million in the U.S., a moderate start for a Fox show. Though it maintained a dedicated audience, fluctuating ratings and network decisions eventually led to its premature cancellation after two seasons, leaving fans clamoring for more and numerous storylines unresolved.

The legacy of 'Tru Calling' can be seen in numerous shows that followed. Its integration of the procedural format with supernatural elements paved the way for series like 'Pushing Daisies', where the protagonist has the ability to bring the dead back to life, albeit with consequences. The moral dilemmas of playing with fate have been explored in numerous other series, making 'Tru Calling' a precursor in this narrative style.

To encapsulate, 'Tru Calling' stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of character-driven supernatural dramas. In its brief run, it tackled profound questions about fate, free will, and the ethical ramifications of meddling with time. While it may not have achieved the prolonged success it deserved, it undoubtedly left an indelible mark, serving as a beacon for shows that dared to intertwine the supernatural with the emotional intricacies of human existence.

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