Making the world a better place, one show at a time.

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Washington, DC, United States
I guess you would like to know a little bit about the person making all these proclamations upon good taste and horrid characters. I'm Andrea and when I was 15 I fell in love. An hour after meeting "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" I was forever altered in the way only love can, and I never questioned for one minute afterwards that television offered me an amazing chance to experience lives and moments that I could never imagine. So now, when I'm not getting distracted by my real life, I write about TV. I also read, am finishing a Master's degree in English Literature, travel, am attempting to learn vegan cooking, am the 5th of 6 children, and drive my roommate nuts by constantly cleaning our already clean apartment. Now that we're old friends, time for you to take my opinions as the be all and end all.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Guest Star: KP

I would be quite surprised if anyone chooses to watch October Road after KP's scathing (and from the two episodes I have seen, entirely accurate) review. Why eat tripe when there is kobe beef? The delicacy KP recommends is one I tried, but for which I wasn't, let us say, properly prepared. What she has to say has given me the courage and proper perspective to give this show another go. So let KP convince you why you should spend your Wednesdays watching Pushing Daisies.

The TV Girl

Pushing Daisies: A Sweet Slice of Magic Realism

I’ll admit it. I have a sweet tooth. Lemonheads really get me but Pushing Daisies is jam packed with enough sugary goodness to equal 300 pounds of lemonheads. And that’s a lot of lemonheads.

Pushing Daisies has quickly become a viewer favorite and folks have attached all sorts of words to it like quirky, odd, endearing, charming, sweet and a modern fairy tale. The weird thing is, for once, the masses are correct. Pushing Daisies embodies all those adjectives with a dose of film noir, a touch of sadness and a smattering of dark humor. Like the pies that Ned bakes, Pushing Daises is stuffed with salacious ingredients that end up making it quite a delicious treat.

Key Ingredients for a Sweet Success (according to Asiankp):

1.) Cast-The big berries of our metaphorical pie. The ensemble cast of this show is one of the finest. Ned (Lee Pace), Charlotte “Chuck” Charles (Anna Friel), Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) and Olive Snook (Kristen Chenoweth). Also included are Aunts Lily and Vivian (Swoosie Kurtz and Ellen Greene). Together they make the show run. The chemistry between Ned and Chuck is so real, you can almost feel the sexual tension oozing out of the screen. The love/hate relationship between Ned and Olive is so endearing to watch that you gradually come to love Olive, quirkiness and all. And the fact that Kristen Chenoweth is so small compared to everyone else gives it an extra dose of humor. She reminds me feisty chihauha among great danes. Emerson Cod is the apathetic member of this crime-fighting “team” and although he acts like he is just using Ned to make money, deep down he is a big old softie with a passion for knitting. And the deadpan, sarcastic delivery of lines by Mr. Chi McBride is one of the highlights of the show for me. Ned (Lee Pace) is about as charming as they come. With his boyish grin, shining brown eyes and a general aura of sweetness, he reminds me of a young Carey Grant. While Chuck (Anna Friel) may be the weakest member of the cast in terms of acting and character, when placed in scenes with the other folks, she is given an opportunity to shine and shine she does. Although a majority of the action centers on Chuck and Ned’s peculiar predicament, Emerson and Olive are inches away from stealing the show.

2.) Plot-The premise of the show revolves around Ned who possesses an usual gift of bringing people back from the dead with one touch but killing them as quickly as they came with a second touch. In this writers mind, that aspect of the show is highly original and although a tad morose, the shows writers treat this “gift” in a humorous and respectful manner. While the pilot, aptly named Pie-lette introduced Ned and his gift, the writers did a great job of not revealing everything in the first 20 minutes. As the show progresses, you learn the upsides and downsides of such a gift and Ned’s constant struggle to function on the same plane with the rest of the universe while he retains this unearthly skill. The storylines are often a bit absurd but it works for this fairy tale-eque story. No one expects CSI and the show has no intention of conveying that message. The formulaic nature of the show, it usually opens with a narration about young Ned’s life as a boy and how it foreshadows something later on to a bizarre murder case to the solving of the murder to opening more questions about the past, is reminiscent of another phenomenal show known as the Pretender where the formula always included three distinct parts that gave viewers a certain comfort level and familiarity. With so many shows like Lost and Heroes and their complex storylines, a simple question/answer plot is a welcome change. Spoiler alert: Although for fans of the complex storyline, Pushing Daisies addresses that too for in the final episode before the writers strike, we discover that Chuck’s Aunt Lily may actually be her mother.

3.) Artistic design-This is some of the finest work I’ve seen in television in terms of artistic design and set design. From the Pie-hole diner with its pie crust awning to the windmill farm country, the bright colors literally jump off the screen. I often feel as though I’m watching a Roald Dahl book come to life before my very eyes. The design is somewhat similar to that of Tim Burton’s Big Fish or even Amelie. The almost cartoonish architecture and coloring help create this feeling of magic that gives the show its quirky, endearing charm.

4.) A competent narrator-The narration of the show reminds me a lot of Arrested Development. Instead of a lame 1st person voice over, think Grey’s Anatomy, the narrator of Pushing Daisies adopts a omniscient, 3rd person point of view. It plays right into that fairy tale theme and the accent doesn’t hurt either.

5.) Writing-I love the rapid fire pace of the dialogue. Instead of annoying word vomit a la Lorelai Gilmore, the fast, sharp witty dialogue reminds me of Carey Grant/Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday. And even though the show borderlines on romantic comedy fodder, you never feel like the characters are forcing their expressions of a love that can never be expressed physically. Which brings me to another point, given their unusual situation (ie. Chuck and Ned can never touch) it allows the writers to be creative and challenges them to make Chuck and Ned’s relationship more than just sex. Because they can’t ever have it. Together, that is. The show moves pretty effortlessly from film noir to dark to comedy to dramatic to sad to heartwarming and back again and that is due to the smooth transitional writing.

6.) Wardrobe-This is a minor detail, kinda like powdered sugar on a top of a pie. But Chuck’s dresses are always gorgeous and remind me of the 50s or rather 50s with 90s colors. And you have to love Olive’s green diner outfit although I sometimes question whether Kristen Chenoweth has a cleavage clause in her contract because literally every episode, I’m afraid one is just going to pop out Janet Jackson style.

7.) Guest stars-again, a minor detail, maybe some whipped cream to top it all off. Instead of going with high power celebs (Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis on Friends), Pushing Daisies employed over the last season Molly Shannon, Mike White, Joel McHale (I love Talk Soup) and Paul Reubens. Fairly under the radar stars, but hilarious nonetheless and give the show its added boost of quirky.

I’d like to think of watching Pushing Daisies akin to devouring an entire French Silk or Lemon Meringue pie. The appearance is attractive, the ingredients are tasty and when you are done, you are left with wanting more.

A few other things to make watching better:

-Ned wears Chuck Taylors almost religiously. Chucks. Think about that. The name of his childhood crush and it also happens to be the same name as another favorite show of mine featuring the effable Chuck Bartowski.

-Aunt Lily’s eyepatch. Since Tim Burton has said to be a slight inspiration to creator Brian Fuller, I found it awesome that Aunt Lily sports an eyepatch, which is identical to the witch (Helen Bonham Carter) in Burton’s Big Fish movie who also wore an eyepatch.

-Kristen Chenoweth and Ellen Greene are both Broadway stars. That’s a cool factor plus 10.


Asiankp said...

Ha. reading my own writing on someone else's blog is weird on many levels.
i hope you enjoy it the second time around...I must say you have never steered me wrong so I hope I can do the same for you.

The TV Girl said...

I love, love, love this review! And I love having you write for me.