Hi, I just watched the pilot of Pushing Daisies on ABC. Those of you who enjoy candy-colored, quip-ridden whimsy should check out this show before it is flushed down the inevitable toilet. Its well-balanced construction of consistently witty writing, neatly sketched characters, sun-drenched nostalgic colors and perky narration can only last so long before one of two things happens.
So, anyway, Pushing Daisies is about a pie maker who can bring people back to life with one touch, then kill them again with the next. Ned [Lee Pace, deadpan] spends his days making perfect pastries and solving murder cases with the victims’ help, splitting his rewards with sardonic investigator friend [Chi McBride, suitably snarky]. Everything going swimmingly until he resurrects childhood crush Chuck [Anna Friel, unusually bright and punchy for a charming love interest]. Now she’s alive when she’s not supposed to be; he can’t touch the woman he loves, and there’s this matter of her killer still menacing people nearby.
The overdetermining narration very nearly pushes this slight, comic tale into the land of tooth-grittingly saccharine TV morals, but the collective skills of the cast really bring the conceit out of cleverness and into something memorable, even occasionally resonant. All major characters have lost something — Ned his mom, Chuck her dad and her normal life with her aunts, her aunts their synchronized swimming careers and an association with the outside world, Emerson any sort of semblance of normalcy in his life. In a show that’s all about an endless cycle of losing and gaining, I hope that the makers have the courage to explore both the light side of rebirth and the dark side of death. But I doubt they will because, like I said, the show will either turn too ooey-gooey for its own good, or it will be nixed for being too inventive.
So far, Pushing Daisies compares favorably with many shows and movies I have seen… For just a few… The tongue-in-cheek narration and Technicolor brightness reminds me of the movie Amelie. The clean suburbia populated by shining caricatures of people and sneaky gallows humor recalls the movie Beetlejuice. Chuck’s struggle to with the end of one life and the beginning of another reminds me of the premise of Dead Like Me. The carnivalesque view of characters as lovable freaks reminds me of some of Ray Bradbury’s fiction for young adults, especially Something Wicked This Way Comes.