Once again I have to lament my ignorance and stupidity on account of missing out on a brilliant piece of pop-culture. But this time, I can take a whole bunch of you down with me! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! *ahem* Sorry. For various reasons I have missed out on a lot of good tv shows. I’m not caught up on Mad Men or Dexter, I’ve never seen a single episode of Breaking Bad, The Wire, The Sopranos, Deadwood, Weeds, Sons Of Anarchy, Big Love, Lost, and several others. Some of these I have a valid excuse for, I didn’t have cable (let alone movie channels) when most of these shows started and I didn’t want to start in the middle.
But then you have Pushing Daisies, a beautiful, funny, quirky, intelligent, and thoroughly entertaining show that aired on broadcast television and that I have absolutely no excuse for missing when it was on. And yet, I stand (okay, I’m actually sitting) here retroactively kicking myself for once again being so, so stupid (I hope that doesn’t become my catchphrase).
I can’t claim ignorance, either. The show was well-publicized (at least before the ratings took a nosedive), and with my IMDB-nerdiness, I was well aware that it was beloved by critics. And yet, I still refused to give it the time of day. I guess I assumed that the television-viewing public was onto something (these are the same people who make Two and A Half Men TV’s number one comedy, what was I thinking?! ). Ultimately in my misinformed brain, I formed the conclusion that the show was overrated and I didn’t give it another thought.
That is until I was perusing Netflix one day and under Suggested TV Shows, what do you suppose was there? You guessed it, Pushing Daisies Season 1… you’re so smart. So, on a whim, I added it to my queue. That was several months ago (my queue isn’t short) and it finally arrived week before last. Now when I have TV on DVD, I like to give it as much of my undivided attention as I can muster. So I burned through the movies I had from the library and made sure I had all three discs for Season 1 before I began the viewing experience. And what an experience it was!
From the very first episode I was in love with the world of Pushing Daisies. That they had such a complete vision for this universe from the word ‘go’ is remarkable, what’s more remarkable, though, is that universe itself. It doesn’t quite take place in the world we live in, it takes place in a land of bright colors, whimsy, and cheap (yet beautiful) CGI. It’s a world in which everybody has a quick wit seemingly by default, and where a pie shop literally shaped like a giant pie is nothing out of the ordinary. A world where everybody dresses amazingly all the time… oh yeah, and a world where a guy (Ned the piemaker, played by Lee Pace) can touch dead things and bring them back to life.
Which he does… frequently… for money… sort of. He works with a P.I. named Emerson Cod (Chi McBride, a source of some the best one-liners I’ve ever heard). They have found that it’s much easier to solve murders when you can just ask the victims how they died. And oh, how they die! For how cute and whimsical Pushing Daisies could be, it could also be terribly (and gloriously) dark and disturbing, like when the woman gets stung to death by bees, or the man gets stomped to death by a horse, or the woman gets harpooned and then melts against the light in a lighthouse (you read that right). Yet there is no blood or gore, just horribly, hilariously mutilated corpses.
And it’s this murder-solving that sets the story in motion. Because Ned has grown up with the knowledge that his touch has an unusual effect, he has avoided situations where touching would be a frequent thing. Then one day, Emerson comes to him with a new case of a woman who was murdered on a cruise ship, and that woman happens to be the girl Ned loved as a little boy, Charlotte Charles aka Chuck (the gorgeous Anna Friel). Upon touching her to find out what she knows of her death, Ned finds that he can’t bring himself to touch her again (touching dead people a second time makes them dead for good).
And it’s this that is the source of most of the relationship-based tension for the show. Ned and Chuck are head over heels in love, and yet one touch would instantly send Chuck back to the grave. Yet they make it work, mostly through plastic and thick gloves. And despite being inherently sad, it’s also so incredibly adorable and innocent, that it kind of makes you want the same thing (or at least it did for me, is that weird?).
The other source of relationship tension is Olive Snook (the amazingly amazing Kristin Chenoweth), a waitress at the Pie Hole (Ned’s pie shop) who has more than her share of unrequited love for the piemaker. And although she resents his relationship with Chuck, she also respects it enough to not try and rain on their touch-free parade. Instead she passes the time by whipping-off amazing dialogue and singing whenever she can get the chance (and isn’t being interrupted).
I could probably go on forever about this show. I haven’t even touched on Swoosie Kurtz and Ellen Greene who are amazing as Chuck’s aunts, or the chemistry between all the cast members, or the great guest actors they had, or the great narration, or the fabulously twisty plot, or so many of the other fantastic things that made this show so incredible. And it was. I may have arrived in Couer d’Couers late, but I got there, and now I don’t want to leave.
Posted under Kyle's Adventures in Pop Culture
This post was written by Kyle on April 27, 2010