Imagine my surprise when I found out that the show Wildfire, aired exclusively on the ABC Family network on Monday nights, is coming up on its fourth season. So it makes me wonder, since ABC Family is a little long on episodes, if a show airs on a network that people barely watch (aside from the occasional Gilmore Girls repeat), does the show really exist?
Wildfire is not, as I first thought, a reality show surrounding professional wrestler Tommy Rich, nor is it a dramatic show about fighting brush blazes in California or Montana. It is the name of a racehorse. The horse finds a kindred spirit in Kris (Genevieve Cortese, Kids in America), who is on a work release program and is given parole to work at Raintree Ranch, owned by Jean Ritter (Nana Visitor, Star Trek Deep Space Nine). Jean’s son Matt (Micah Alberti, American Pie Presents Band Camp) is becoming an accomplished trainer, perhaps better than the farm’s head trainer Pablo (Greg Serano, In the Valley of Elah), but despite his feelings for Kris, he’s become the trainer for a horse owned by Danielle Davis (Nicole Tubiola, Imaginary Heroes), in a family that Jean seems to run into conflicts with. The patriarch Ken (James Read, Legally Blonde) has tactics that seem a little bit seedy, and his son Junior (Ryan Sypek) wants to break free from his hold.
Allow me to get the perpetual awe and wonder out of the way first and say ‘hey look! Amanda Seyfried (Big Love) appears in a small arc during the season as Junior’s employee and eventual love interest! Cool!’ Past that, what am I really watching here? I’m watching The O.C. for the wine and horse (literally) sect. There’s no real character conflict worth watching or that you can’t see coming a mile away. The performances are wooden, perhaps to echo the predictability that’s in store, and even though I came into the show’s second season without seeing the first (there are plenty of ‘previously on’…teases at the beginning of each episode), I saw the eventual turning of several motivations through the season, or at least as much of it as I could stomach.
Dolby Digital 5.1, however I’d go so far as to say that it’s completely unnecessary for the discs. There’s no subwoofer usage and the panning and directional activity is minimal at best, but the dialogue sounds clear, or at least as clear as dialogue like this should sound.
1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, presumably in advance of whatever high definition broadcasting the folks at ABC Family anticipate doing. Blacks are crushed and the image is soft from time to time, but when it comes to television broadcasts, it’s perfectly acceptable on that level, so Wildfire gets ‘er done.
Each one of the episodes contains commentary, which might be nice, but the commentaries involve the producers, directors and writers without any of the cast getting involved, and the commentaries are fairly dry and not worth a lot of information. Aside from that stuff and an eight minute look at the music in the film, that’s all that’s on the set.
Wildfire might have some sort of redeeming qualities but I sure couldn’t find them after watching most of Season Two’s thirteen episodes. Points go to the creators for providing commentaries on each episode, but that’s for the die hard fan, which I’m not. If you’re a fan of it, then by all means, snap up Season Two while Season Three airs Monday nights.