Tag Archives: Episode Eight

The 2008 Television Time Capsule: Pushing Daisies – “Comfort Food”

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“Comfort Food”

Season Two, Episode Eight

Airdate: December 3rd, 2008

Perhaps it was destiny, written in pie filling the moment the show even aired, or perhaps we can blame it on the usual scapegoats (Writer’s strike, economic downturn, etc.) – regardless, Pushing Daisies has gone from a hopeful future for whimsy to a series destined to be a sought after DVD set of only 22 episodes.

With a majority of the second season’s episodes airing after the show had already been canceled, the season had a sense of bittersweet inevitability: knowing that it would be ending left us trapped between hoping to soak in every last moment and cursing the harsh reality that would soon take it all away. But while it may not have gone through the same sophomore resurgence as Chuck, Pushing Daisies never wavered: it remained, through the 10 episodes aired of the 2nd season, the best darn resurrection pie maker procedural on television.

And while the season had a handful of great episodes, and I have a particular affinity for the costumes of “Dim Sum Lose Sum,” I think that “Comfort Food” is the episode I would choose to represent the series within the Time Capsule. My reasoning is actually decidedly simple: it is an episode about baking pies, solving mysteries and the ramifications of bringing people back to life. It is at its core the episode that dealt most with the show’s central qualities, and it feels like a strong representative sample as a result. Throw in a musical number at the end (Olive’s unrequited love bursting into “Eternal Flame”), and you have a love letter to the show’s fans.

YouTube: “Eternal Flame” via Olive Snook

But what really pits “Comfort Food” over the top is that this familiarity is achieved through two pairings that the show rarely delved into on this level. Ned rarely gets to spend anytime with Olive by herself since Chuck came around, while Chuck and Emerson rarely interact without Ned present as a buffer of sorts. By placing Ned and Olive at the cook-off (complete with a cameo from a character from Bryan Fuller’s Wonderfalls), and sending Chuck and Emerson to solve the problem of Chuck’s betrayal of Ned’s trust, the show demonstrates a willingness to shake things up a little.

But you can’t shake this show’s charm: even cancellation will be unable to entirely wipe away the show’s impact on these actors, and on those who stuck with the show since the beginning. Yes, the show was never a mainstream success, but from a critical and creative perspective few would argue against its inclusion within the 2008 Television Time Capsule. This is a show that people will be watching, I believe, for years to come: and when they come across “Comfort Food,” with the series’ end in sight, I have every reason to believe they will stop, smile, and realize what a fun road it’s been.

Still waiting on those final three episodes, ABC – make it happen or release the DVDs ASAP.

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[For more details on the Cultural Learnings 2008 Television Time Capsule, click here!]

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The 2008 Television Time Capsule: Dexter – “The Damage A Man Can Do”

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“The Damage A Man Can Do”

Season Three, Episode Eight

Airdate: November 16th, 2008

In my review of the show’s third season finale, I tore into Dexter for missed potential, for failing to take advantage of its early season ideas and instead investigating something interesting but not compelling. This isn’t to say that the show’s decision to focus its attention on the relationship between Dexter and Miguel Prado (Jimmy Smits) was a poor one but rather that it felt like the story never fit the season in a way.

What it did provide, though, was a number of solid episodes that delved into the ramifications of their friendship. “The Damage a Man Can Do” is the most simple of these moments: not wrapped up in the show’s drive towards a conclusion, or in the show’s divided attention at the season’s opening, it answers the question of what could happen if Dexter Morgan had a partner, a friend who helped him with his dark secrets. The episode boils down Dexter’s dark passenger into a shopping list, and a series of disguises and actions that feels wonderfully scientific.

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The 2008 Television Time Capsule: Fringe – “The Equation”

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“The Equation”

Season One, Episode Eight

Airdate: November 18th, 2008

In some ways, I think that Lost is not going to do J.J. Abrams any favours.

Sure, having his name attached to the show got him a great deal of critical acclaim, and his new status as a household name has allowed him to reap considerable career advancement considering this summer’s upcoming release of his Star Trek reboot. But Lost has long ceased being Abrams’ show, and his calling card has never quite been the highly mythological science fiction that that show has become.

I’ve written a lot about Fringe, primarily because there was a lot of misconceptions going in and a lot of misconceptions as it aired. This show isn’t Lost, having more in common with Abrams’ work on Alias than anything on his more recent series. The show has been dangerously procedural, largely devoid of a deep bench of interesting characters, and oftentimes feeling as if its mythology is more contrivance than intrigue. So for those who were expecting a highly serialized, character driven, mythologically interesting drama series ala Lost…well, you’re somewhat out of luck.

But for those who had their expectations in line, I believe that Fringe has delivered a very solid start to the season: towards the end of the ten episodes which aired this Fall, the show picked up both its episodic and long-term content to an honestly quite thrilling conclusion. The pieces began to fit together, and what once felt like part of a broad and shadowy conspiracy now felt like a real honest to goodness plan.

And for me, that starts with “The Equation,” a taut thriller of an episode that was extremely atmospheric: a series of disappearances, all very sudden and all with victims who were some type of genius in their chosen field, are linked together to an equation, the solution to which remains unknown. Placing a young musical genius at the heart of the story, we discover two things.

First, we discover that Michael Giacchino, who had been phoning it in for the preceding episodes in the series, is still capable of writing haunting and moving music, as the central composition of the equation is the perfect melody for the episode.

Second, we realize that what Abrams has achieved with Fringe is his attempt at taking what he learned from Alias, in particular the attempt to add procedural elements to the show to appeal to new viewers, and put it to good use. Knowing now that vagueness is not something which can stand on its own as dramatic development, the season uses it instead to allow us to discover the truth as our characters do.

Yes, the show’s characters need work, and yes they need to diversify their solutions more, but I don’t think the time capsule needs to hear about all of that junk: “The Equation” is serialized procedural at its finest, and reminds us of how much potential this show really has as it heads into the rest of its first season.

Related Posts at Cultural Learnings

[For more details on the Cultural Learnings 2008 Television Time Capsule, click here!]

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The 2008 Television Time Capsule: Friday Night Lights – “New York, New York”

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“New York, New York”

Season Three, Episode Eight

Airdate: November 19th, 2008

Entering into its third season, which a majority of you probably haven’t seen yet thanks to the strange DirecTV exclusivity, Friday Night Lights had two main goals: to say goodbye to its graduating players who no longer felt organically tied to the Dillon Panthers, and to recapture that sense of magic that made the first season so special. With 11 of its 13 episodes finished airing, the season has managed the second goal quite well, and is on its way to achieving the first.

[To respect the fact that most of you haven’t seen these episodes (they start airing on January 16th on NBC), I’ll put the rest below the fold – Myles]

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Pushing Daisies – “Comfort Food”

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“Comfort Food”

December 3rd, 2008

When I was watching this week’s special Monday episode of Privileged, it struck me that what I like about the show is how comfortable it feels: its storylines were rote, but the execution was such that it all felt like part of a longstanding relationship despite the show only being ten episodes old. And, I got the same feeling watching tonight’s aptly titled “Comfort Food,” the eighth episode of Pushing Daisies’ second season.

It will also be one of the last: ABC only has plans to air two more episodes, a rather frustrating reality when I consider that this is a show that is not complacent in its comfort. The episode’s central mystery, a charming and cameo-filled zany cook-off scenario, was in line with the series’ tradition, but it also featured a chance for Ned and Olive to interact on an individual level. Meanwhile, Chuck’s storyline took her character in a whole new direction, while giving her and Emerson a chance to interact in a new way as well.

What we got was, as a result, was an episode that reminds us what we will lose when Pushing Daisies leaves our television: an enormously pretty, extremely entertaining, and wonderfully whimsical world. And even if it’s not redesigning the world, I don’t want to lose my weekly visit to this world.

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Friday Night Lights – “New York, New York”

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“New York, New York”

November 19th, 2008

[NOTE: I go into what might be considered spoiler territory before the fold (it just worked out that way), so if you’re waiting until Spring and don’t want to know anything scroll away now! Hope this warning works – MM]

When Smash Williams received his swan song on Friday Night Lights, we ended that episode on an image of Smash’s face, smiling of pride (and his justifiably reinflated ego). It was a moment where you couldn’t help but feel like there was pride in his success, hope for his future, and that small tinge of disappointment that he was exiting our narrative and entering into another part of his life that doesn’t involve Dillon, Texas.

But for what will be Scott Porter’s last episode portraying Jason Street, we do not end on a shot of an admittedly fantastic Porter after pouring his heart out to Erin. Rather, we end on a shot of Tim Riggins, one that (for me) was far more emotionally affective. What is so amazing about Porter’s performance, and the character of Street as a whole, is that what could have been a hokey period after that pilot developed into someone who can serve as emotional and inspirational anchors for this series. While watching Smash succeed was satisfying, watching Jason grow into a man and a provider (even when the means were highly suspect) feels like the kind of story this show was born to tell: a story about a kid who was supposed to be on the path to greatness proving that, even when the terms changed, he never left that path.

And when we cut to Tim Riggins, of all people, overcome by emotion at the sight of Jason Street’s final moment, we realize that within both the show’s universe and our own, it doesn’t get much better than this.

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House – “Emancipation”

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“Emancipation”

November 18th, 2008

A week after throwing the show’s structure for a loop by reintroducing Chase and Cameron to the central narrative, House is at the kind of place where the show never really was last season. It’s a sort of unstable normalcy, where everything on the surface is the same but underneath there is clearly unrest amongst the team. There’s drama building everywhere, and it’s the kind of drama that will eventually explode in some fashion.

It’s a lot of moving parts, so I wonder how long they can make it last. “Emancipation” largely only works because of Omar Epps giving Foreman a very real sense of tarnished pride, a character who tried making it on his own last season only to find that he’s too much like House for his own good but now finds himself unable to get himself out from his shadow. While the fragmented nature of the episode was problematic in a few ways, the dual cases gave Foreman his biggest showcase of the season to date, more Chase and Cameron than we’ve received on average, some Wilson and House interaction, and even some new ripples appearing in the world of the three newer cast members.

No individual part of the episode really got to stand out beyond Foreman, but it all felt like positive momentum at this stage in the game.

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