Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pushing Daisies Episodes 1 and 2

I'm on record as saying that, for the past few years, maybe longer, TV has been a better bet than movies. You can argue the reasons why that is till you're blue in the face--necessity of invention in the face of more competition, more room to breathe for creative people--but the cheery fact is that shows like Deadwood and The Wire routinely reach heights that even the best of movies never quite reach.

Just judging by its first two episodes, you can probably add Pushing Daisies to that list. If ever there was an example of the obsolescence of cinema in the face of television, this is it. For one, Pushing Daisies looks like a movie, with vivid colors and glitzy, surreal effects that call to mind Edward Scissorhands or The Life Aquatic. Part of this is no doubt courtesy of director Barry Sonnenfeld (the cinematographer for the Coen Brothers, as well as the director for the Men in Black franchise), but it also has a lot to do with creator Bryan Fuller's vision.

Fuller's vision is realized in the forensic fairy tale Pushing Daisies actually is. Ned (Lee Pace), a pie-maker, possesses the ability to bring people and things back to life with a touch, but if he touches them again, they die permanently. And there are consequences. If Ned lets the erstwhile corpse live longer than a minute, someone else in the vicinity has to die. Ned's not a saint, but he's not a bad guy, either, so he uses his power to solve crimes and collect reward money with his partner, Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) and his resurrected childhood sweetheart, Chuck (Anna Friel).

Still, however much I rhapsodize about the state of television today, there's still a lot of bad things about it. The glut of procedural dramas is certainly one of them, and however quirky the trappings of Pushing Daisies are, it's still yet another procedural, which means that it's got to have interesting and likable characters to survive. And goodness, it does. Friel and Pace have fabulous chemistry, and they're the main reason for the only criticism people can find in the first two episodes: it's twee, it's precious, it's like freebasing the essence of sweet. And yeah, in a show where people drive a dandelion-powered car, that may be legitimate. But when Ned erects a plexiglass partition in his car with a dishwashing glove so he and Chuck can hold hands when driving, or when Ned and Chuck stand next to each other and hold their own hands, leaving the rest to their imagination (all of which is narrated by Jim Dale, one of two people, along with Jon Miller, who could read the phone book to me and keep me enthralled), it's impossible not to be charmed.

And the sweet is nicely counterbalanced by Chi McBride's acerbic, bitter Emerson (and who would have thought that McBride was a pretty funny guy after the stale-bean soup of a show that was Boston Public?). He's got some fantastic zingers, like his "Bitch, I was in the vicinity!" after finding out that Ned resurrected Chuck for good in the pilot episode, or his wishing Ned would finally just touch Chuck because the status quo was better for business.

So yeah, get these first two episodes, not only because they're certainly of a unique, satisfying feather, but because they may be the show's best. It's rare for a show to peak in its pilot episodes, but because ABC canned Sonnenfeld for going consistently over budget after the first two episodes, that's a distinct possibility. But I wouldn't mind so much, if only because Pushing Daisies is, for its first two episodes at least, one of the best things I've ever seen.

1 comment:

tramp394 said...

Hey guys these are really great episodes of this show. But for me all are best. have you watch this show. If no, then go ahead and get it now. Pushing Daisies Download & with enjoy guys!!!