Pushing Daisies: What TV Needs   4 comments

I should’ve written this review quite a long time ago.  But something about tonight’s episode pushed me to it (midway through the episode, even, it’s only 7:34 as of this exact moment.)

Pushing Daisies is, to oversimplify the premise, a murder mystery fairy tale (or “forensic fairy tale” as I’ve heard it called, though forensics has little to do with the actual procedings of the case cracking.)  The show features a pie maker who can raise the dead with a touch, and then make them dead again with a second touch (but it has to be within a minute, or someone else will die.)  He and the staff of his restaurant (“The Pie Hole”) work for/with a private investigator to solve mysteries by waking the dead and asking them how they died, though in the granted minute of time they rarely have the ability to gather everything they need (especially in cases where the murderer pushed them from behind.)

Now that I’ve oversimplified it, the actual reason for enjoying this series has to do with its presentation.  Nearly everything about the show screams fairy tale, from whimsical names of the characters (Olive Snook, for example) to the amazing narrator who, well, narrates the events of the show.  Furthermore, I see the show as a celebration of the wonders of everyday life and community.  The people of these shows really throw themselves into their work.  Regardless of what job a person does, their whole world seems to be filled with the positive, fun aspects of those jobs.  Bee keepers work in giant, stylized bee and honey themed buildings, the local fried chicken restaurant is run by an incredibly familiar looking Colonel, and circus clowns carpool by the dozen in the smallest cars around.

This isn’t to say that the world of this show is so idealized that everyone lives in perfect happiness.  No, the murderers of this show are always disgruntled about something, otherwise why murder?  Whether because they feel wronged, or because they have something to gain, this is still a world of problems.

I think I like this because it discards that old, tired saw that happiness and wonder is just an illusion, and that beneath the sparkling coat of paint the world is filled with ugliness and meanness.  Instead, this show suggests that the world is, in fact, a wonderful place where it’s okay to hope, but there are people within it who mess up the perfection.

If I were to level a complaint against the show, it would be that sometimes the “murder of the week” style can be fit into the plot where it doesn’t always seem right.  Some episodes I would prefer for the murder to not be there while the characters deal with their own personal issues, and those issues are indeed interesting.  Everyone in the show is a schemer and secret keeper in one way or another, whether the secrets be because they’re afraid, greedy, or just of the opinion that the secret is their business and no one else’s.  What this winds up creating is a sort of stew that combines all the best elements of a farce with a stylized melodrama.  With all the people coming back from the dead, faking death, and not telling people about the deaths being faked, the series is constantly setting up dominoes just for the fun of seeing them topple an episode, five episodes, or an entire season later.

In fact, the writers may be realizing that the murders don’t always need to take place.  Tonight’s episode  (It’s 8:08 at this point in the writing.  Yes, I’ve been writing during commercials for half an hour now) featured no actual murder, just a vast series of consequences falling on the footsteps of three major characters and one recurrant character (is she the lady from Shining Time Station, that old PBS show that was on when I was younger?  I need to IMDB that, I really hope it’s her.)

Anyway, if you’re a fan of fairy tales, murder mysteries, farces, cooking shows, melodrama, pies, or kindly British narrators, you really need to watch an episode or three of Pushing Daisies.  Seriously, what are you waiting for?


4 responses to “Pushing Daisies: What TV Needs

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  1. Well, based on your review, I went out and bought the first season. It was awesome. I love this show! My daughter loved it too – we had to ration the episodes so that we didn’t gobble them all up in one sitting. Can’t wait for season 2 to come out on dvd.

  2. Well, I’m glad you liked it. 🙂 It was, in my mind, the most well written show on TV. The writers knew what they were doing, and did it even more well than the writers of the (also amazing, though for different reasons) show Lost. Heck, Pushing Daisies managed to surpass Scrubs in my view as Best Modern Comedy on TV.

    However, I’m sad to report that Scrubs is at the top again. Shortly after I wrote this review, I learned that, sadly, Pushing Daisies had been cancelled. 😦 I’d love it if this show got picked back up again, although that kind of thing tends to be rare (and when it does happen, it’s rarely for a show I really, really want to see back. Scrubs came back, yeah. But Family Guy? Ugh…please, just let that show die…)

  3. Cancelled? Damn! It is such an amazing show and so well done. The look of the show, with its saturated colours, the flawless casting, the excellent writing and … the narrator! As close to perfect as you can get, in my opinion.

    So, I guess I won’t have to wait too long, then, for the second season on dvd. 😦

  4. Err, actually, potential bad news on that front, as well. See, the show has three finished, but as yet unaired, episodes (they wanted to air Lost in the timeslot…grrrrrrr…) And they were planning on airing those during the Summer.

    And I don’t know if they’d release the second season’s DVD without the episodes having been aired. And it’s a real bummer for me, because there was such a massive cliffhanger at the end of the last episode that they put on TV.

    The series creator has, however, said that he’d like to finish the story, either through a movie or through a series of comic books. I really hope he can do that (or have the show brought back.)

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