Category Archives: Pushing Daisies

Pushing Daisies – “Circus Circus”

“Circus Circus”

October 8th, 2008

In the prologue to the second episode of Pushing Daisies’ second season, Ned learns a lesson that may be all too self-prophetic for Bryan Fuller’s charming show: that “new beginnings only lead to painful ends.” Considering last week’s alarmingly low ratings numbers, joining Chuck and Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles on the lists of shows bouncing back creatively if not in terms of viewership after the writers’ strike cut their seasons short, Pushing Daisies might well be headed for an end that will certainly be painful considering how much I love this show.

But as the episode progresses, what is demonstrates is that new beginnings aren’t nearly as hard as Ned’s initial lesson made it out to be: that striking out on your own, or suddenly being on your own, or hoping for a new period in your life to begin, can be both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time without having to fall into either category. While it may seem like a show shouldn’t be able to create a common thread for a pie maker who can bring back the dead, an alive again childhood sweetheart, a picture-book making detective, two eccentric Aunts, and an employee who’s at a nunnery, all while also managing to construct an entertaining circus-based murder mystery, Pushing Daisies has proven its mettle.

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Season Premiere: Pushing Daisies – “Bzzzzzzzzz!”

“Bzzzzzzzzz!”

October 1st, 2008

Sometimes a show isn’t profound, or fascinating, or deep. Sometimes, a show’s originality and charm are what elevate it to the level of being one of the most anticipated returns of the fall season, not a cliffhanger or any sort of buzzworthy (I know, I know) story element.

Pushing Daisies is one of these shows. I’ve always found it tough to blog about Pushing Daisies on any sort of extremely critical perspective: it’s a show that people either love or hate, and falling so strongly on the love side of things I can’t help but be more giddy with excitement than brimming with allegorical readings. If Pushing Daisies offers a cranky Emerson Cod, spastic Olive Snook, optimistic Chuck, awkward Ned, wacky Aunts Lily and Vivian, and more of Digby (Television’s best canine co-star) than I could ask for, I’m not going to be complaining anytime soon.

“Bzzzzzzzzz!” (With exactly nine Zs, I checked) is more of the same: not quite the revolution that Chuck’s second season premiere was for that show’s trajectory, it’s an episode that smartly places the focus on the central premise of the series while allowing the opportunity for almost all of its characters to have their various little moments. Settling in from the end of season drama that we were left with, Pushing Daisies remains what it was before: a comfy, cozy and whimsical universe to escape to for an hour each week.

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10 Shows to (Hopefully) Watch in 2008: #7-5

If 2007 saw the downfall of Heroes and The Office, it also saw the emergence of these three series as critical favourites. In different season, critics were adamant that these series would be the future of television. Now, with the fate of each up in the air considering the Writers’ Strike, let’s take a look at what to expect from some more fresh faces.

Of 2007’s drama series, only one has made this list. Ultimately, while there are a few series I enjoyed during the fall season, none have been able to supplant other series except for Pushing Daisies. Bryan Fuller’s series has managed to earn him his first full-season order, and it is perhaps one of the only series which might actually benefit from the writer’s strike. While I have remained fairly consistently entertained over the first nine episodes, I will have to admit that the long-term longevity of the series has yet to be decided.

This is on both creative and commercial sides of the coin. In terms of ratings, the series hit some road bumps during the latter portion of the fall, and the result is that the naysayers are rampant. But really, did anyone expect the series to maintain its 12+ Million viewers from the premiere? This was always going to be a divisive show, and the fact that it maintained as much of that audience as it did (Especially compared to other series like NBC’s Bionic Woman) is a success story.

However, the creative question is far more intriguing. While I’ve enjoyed the series’ laidback procedural flow, as it has allowed Chi McBride and Kristen Chenoweth to turn in some dynamite supporting turns sadly unnoticed by recent award shows, others raise concerns regarding the longevity of this atmosphere. It does have the danger of relying on quirkiness for too long, but I have faith that the emotional investment the viewer has placed in these characters is strong enough to sustain whatever format Fuller moves forward with. Plus, I am looking forward to seeing if Fuller is able to pull together a musical episode in the new year – fingers crossed.

Pushing Daisies has received a full season order, but only finished 9 (Already Aired) episodes out of 22. The show will return to production once the writers’ strike resumes. 

YouTube – “Hopelessly Devoted…” from Olive Snook

Matthew Weiner’s drama series debuted on AMC in the summer of 2007 with extremely little buzz. It was only the prodding of various critics that convinced me to give the series a shot, and what I discovered was something quite interesting. I’m on the short list of those who will in the future be forced to catch up on the entirety of The Sopranos, but Matthew Weiner proved his worth for me with Mad Men, perhaps the sharpest new drama of 2007.

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Pushing Daisies – “Bitter Sweets”

“Bitter Sweets”

November 27th, 2007

While Pushing Daisies has certainly deviated from its formula to some extent in the past, this week’s episode probably represents the largest departure from the show’s mystery of the week structure. Sure, there was still a central mystery, but there were actually two murders and a guest appearance by Molly Shannon, so the basic structure certainly changed this time around.

It wasn’t a bad episode, as there were certainly some charming moments and some continued charm. I enjoyed some of the character beats the episode provided, but it felt a little bit disoriented: the resolution to the murder felt tacked on and meaningless, and Ned’s central struggle was underrepresented within the narrative as a whole. I guess it seems like the series is just marking time until the fall finale in two weeks….until its cliffhanger conclusion, that is.

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Pushing Daisies – “Smell of Success”

“Smell of Success”

November 20th, 2007

There is no question that Pushing Daisies has found itself a nice little rhythm, but this week’s episode was perhaps its weakest yet…in some ways. The show has a unique way of overcoming some of its weaker elements (In this case, the most predictable mystery in a while) in order to provide some great stuff (Lily and Vivian’s potential return to the water), while maintaining its consistency (Emerson Cod in general).

I can’t expect the show to be perfect, and it really wasn’t here: however, it did end on a high note which could provide a recurring storyline for the first time in quite a while.

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Pushing Daisies – “Bitches”

“Bitches”

November 13th, 2007

As far as the show’s overall themes go, this week’s episode of Pushing Daisies really didn’t do much to further the relationship between Chuck and Ned. Actually, it barely even dealt with it: Ned did have a discussion with a dog psychologist and wrestled with he and Olive’s kiss two weeks ago, and the end of episode coda was certainly poignant, but (Okay, so there was a little movement), for the most part the episode sidelined this in favour of going to the dogs.

While certainly not quite as snappy as some of the show’s past episodes, “Bitches” featured an interesting mystery paired with copious amounts of Digby, perhaps the early frontrunner for this year’s Best Actor in a Drama Series. I’m head over heels for Digby (My ‘awww’ count reached ludicrous levels), but the episode dealt most succinctly with Emerson falling head over heels for the feminine wiles of a dog breeder.

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Pushing Daisies – “Girth”

“Girth”

October 30th, 2007

You know, when I heard that Pushing Daisies was having a Halloween episode, it felt like a natural fit – however, this isn’t quite what I expected. The episode was good, a solid continuation of some of the show’s key themes and all, but it wasn’t exactly spooky or sensationalist. It used the Halloween setting to introduce a sleepy hollow-esque horseman, but otherwise was actually quite grounded in its characters.

It was a story of Olive’s employment history, Ned’s childhood trauma, Chuck’s precarious present, and Emerson’s love of shovels before it was the story of a ghostly killer. And, of course, the following will contain spoilers.

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Pushing Daisies – “Pigeon”

“Pigeon”

October 24th, 2007

With its third episode, Pushing Daisies proved itself worthy of the praise lauded onto its pilot. And, after seeing its ratings, ABC rewarded the series with a full season order earlier this week. As a result, tonight’s episode is the first airing while we know that there is no longer any fear: Pushing Daisies will be getting a full 22-episode order.

The fourth episode, meanwhile, is a charming and engaging affair which never really clicked for me. While last week used the fantastic pilot to build on the relationship between Chuck and Ned, this week was our first episode that combined a stand-alone murder mystery with the loss of director-producer Barry Sonnenfeld. While the show’s charm was mostly intact, it just didn’t feel the same.

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Pushing Daisies – “The Fun in Funeral”

“The Fun in Funeral”

October 16th, 2007

Perhaps starting a trend for the series, Pushing Daisies used its third episode to bring its pilot back to life. With creator Bryan Fuller writing, the story returned to Aunts Lilly and Vivian, to the Schotz Brothers’ Funeral Home in Couer d’Couers, and to the very premise of the show itself. The result was a charming episode that returned to the witty dialogue of the pilot even while losing some (but not all) of its dramatic flair. If this is what happens when Fuller steps back behind the computer, I think the series has plenty of longevity.

And I think this was a smart decision for its third outing: after the second episode felt extremely self-contained outside of some small moments of character continuity, this episode returned to the premise of the series in a big way. The mystery of the week surrounded the mysterious death of the funeral director who oh-so unfortunately died when Ned kept Chuck alive. When Chuck becomes aware that she is living in place of someone else, she is understandably mortified. And thus begins a game of cat and mouse that, while not quite capturing the pilot’s charm, certainly contains a great deal of wit.

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The Sophomore Test: Pushing Daisies – “Dummy”

The Sophomore Test: Pushing Daisies

“Dummy”

While breaking into the headquarters of the Dandelion Car Company, Ned the Pie Maker experiences a mixture of happiness and trepidation, and poses a rather telling question:

“Why does it always have to be a mixture?”

I concur, Ned, I concur: watching tonight’s sophomore episode of Pushing Daisies, my reactions formed a dangerous mixture of optimism and pessimism. With each passing scene, the pilot’s potential flashed in front of my eyes before disappearing shortly after. It was an emotional rollercoaster, but I am now back on solid ground and capable of breaking this mixture down to its key ingredients.

While it’s too early for the verdict, Pushing Daisies’ second stanza featured a comparable level of wit, an adequate level of characterization, a mildly disappointing dialogue devolution, a massively predictable procedural story, a case of overnarrativitis, and one overly long musical number. What does this all mean?

Pushing Daisies is still the best new show of the season…but they’ve got some work to do.

[There are light spoilers below, but this is really designed as more of a preview than a recap. So, if you want to know what to expect, keep reading.]

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