Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Behind the Curve: Pushing Daisies

A few years back I recall sitting in my grandparents' kitchen and, while watching TV with them, seeing a commercial for a new show coming out: Pushing Daisies. I got out of the brief commercial the basic (albeit quirky) plot - the main character has the ability to bring his girlfriend back from the dead but then can never touch her again or she will die forever - and an immediate liking for its brightly colored scenes. But, alas, for whatever reason (probably that I wasn't a big couch potato back then like I've become in the intervening years), I did not watch the show when it first came on and it lived for only two short seasons before being canceled.

Luckily, I found the entire series on Netflix ... where again, even though it was available on instant, I put off for various reasons actually viewing it. But at last a few months ago when I couldn't sleep one night, I started an episode of the show. And then another. And then another. I quickly devoured the first season (only 9 episodes after all!) and then decided to slow down a bit to savor the second season. Last night I finished the last episode to a somewhat satisfied sigh. (The last episode was clearly meant to be just another episode and then had to have a series-ending-wrap-around tacked on to the last two minutes. Hence the "somewhat satisfied." I'm glad they were able to give some wrap-up to the series rather than leaving it hanging, but I would of course liked to see a fuller treatment of all the things alluded to in the wrap-up.) I'm a bit disappointed that Netflix will be taking the series off of the instant availability this week, as I had wanted to go through the whole series again at a slower pace.

There are just so many things I loved about this show that I don't know where to begin. It honestly felt like someone made this show with just me in mind because it had so many things that were just my brand of quirky. For starters, I hadn't realized the show was also a crime procedural/mystery (albeit unlike any other on TV), and I can't tell you how much I love a good mystery. Here's some other things I really enjoyed about the show:
- as aforementioned, the push of over-the-top bright colors (think Amelie). I hate watching darkly lit shows/movies.
- the opening of each episode with a childhood anecdote related to the current issue of the episode (think the opening of Psych each week)
- the fast talking repartee (think Gilmore Girls)
- the odd humor throughout
- the repetition in names, such as the town Coeur d'Coeurs, Chuck's father Charles Charles, the aunts' aquatic act Darling Mermaids Darlings
- the narrator's ticking off of the exact time, including minutes, when describing the age of a person at the time of a specific event
- the narrator's making a statement about a character's mood which is then repeated almost word for word by the character in question (i.e., the narrator would say something to the effect of "Emerson Cod was not happy" and then Emerson Cod would say "I'm not happy")
- Olive randomly bursting into song and dance (I love bad musicals!)
- the music in general
- I'm not usually a fan of romance, but Ned and Chuck were just the right amount of sweet vs. sappy
- I could go on but I think I'll sum up with this great description of the show from Jezebel: "old-fashioned charm and overwhelming adorability"

The few cons:
- Other than Emerson Cod, there's not a lot of diversity in the cast. And, speaking of which, why is that the only love interests for Emerson Cod can be African-American women? Would it be too crazy to ask for interracial dating on a show that revolves around the relationship between a man with a magic life-giving touch and his alive-again girlfriend who he can never touch? Surely, interracial dating would pale in comparison.
- I can't put my finger on why exactly, but I did not like the subplot that dealt with Chuck tricking Ned into bringing her father back to life. I was glad that didn't last long.
- And I think that's it for cons!

Although I do have some lingering questions:
- Whatever happened to Olive's admirer Alfredo? I always felt like he was going to come back but he never did.
- What was the deal with Dwight Dixon anyway? Why was he obsessed with Charles Charles's watch? What was he doing with a hotel room full of weaponry?
- There was the allusion more than once that Ned's father was hanging around the Pie Hole and keeping tabs on Ned's life and well-being. But, seriously, even without having seen each other for some time, how could Ned not recognize his own father? Why after the father has abandoned both Ned and his other sons would he be hanging around in secret? I would have really liked to see this plot line come to fruition.
- I may have others but can't recall them right now...

The plus side is that there is still talk of lingering plot lines being resolved in a comic book version of Pushing Daisies, due out sometime this year after several delays. A brief glimpse at what the comic book might look like can be found here and a PDF of a sample comic given out at Comic-Con in 2008 can be downloaded here. I for one would LOVE to see this comic book series and hope that no further delays occur. In the meantime, I'm also excited to see that there's a scholarly look at the show in the book The Television World of Pushing Daisies: Critical Essays on the Bryan Fuller Series.

And, while lacking any more stories from the residents of Coeur d'Coeurs to regale me, I might finally meandering over to checking out Bryan Fuller's other series such as Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me (which IMDb trivia tells me is where the idea for Pushing Daisies came from in the first place).


  1. Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me are awesome =)
    I have Wonderfalls if you want to borrow.

  2. Hmmm, not sure why my comment hasn't appeared so I'll try it again (now with my luck it'll show up twice!)

    I might take you up on that offer - I stuck Wonderfalls on my Netflix queue but having to wait for individual discs with TV shows does make me a bit impatient.

    By the way, I'm sure you told me ages ago that all three shows were created by the same person but I forgot that completely when you told me I would like Dead Like Me if I liked Pushing Daisies. Duh on my part!

    So if you are on blogger now, does that mean you are going to blog????

  3. Hah, well, who knows what the future holds? For now, I'm enjoying the blogging of others =)

  4. I loved Pushing Daisies and Dead Like Me. Frankly, I'll watch anything with Mandy Patinkin in it. Ever since I saw him in Sunday in the Park with George, I'm hooked.

  5. Oh that's funny. I've never seen Mandy Patinkin in anything but Criminal Minds, and I didn't care much for his character on the show so I can't say it endeared me to him. Then he ended up abruptly leaving the show anyway...