Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pushing Daisies: With arm wide open

A million new shows on Wednesday nights, but the only one holding my attention enough that I have to rush to blog about it is "Pushing Daisies." (Judging by the lack of comments to my last Wednesday round-up, I'm guessing I'm not the only one.) Spoilers for the latest episode coming up just as soon as I perform transplant surgery on a bird...

This episode wasn't as good as last week's -- the twee-to-funny ratio (perhaps epitomized by the relative screen time for the aunts vs. Emerson) favored the twee a little too much -- but this weird show just slaps a smile on my face for 40+ minutes a week (no commercials for this boy), and that's enough. Hell, it was worth it for Olive and Aunt Vivian's brief duet on They Might Be Giants' "Birdhouse in Your Soul." (Hey, unemployed "Viva Laughlin" producers: this is how you show someone singing in the car without seeming embarrassed about it.)

A couple of points to note. First, Warner Bros. is really holding the line on the budget right now, as the green screen effects in several scenes (particularly the one outside the Pie Hole when Olive first found the pigeon) looked like something out of the '70s. I hadn't realized just how much of the show was CGI-driven until that moment.

Second, I'm not sure how I feel about Chuck and Ned finding so many workarounds to their no-touching problem, especially this quickly. On the one hand, it would be dumb if they didn't try things like plastic wrap and, here, the beekeeper suits. But on the other, it's quickly taking away some of the poignant quality of their relationship. Those bee suits didn't look that heavy; essentially, all Ned needs to do is wear winter-weight clothing all the time and he and Chuck can hug, dance, etc., whenever they want. I know that's not the same thing as being able to have a real kiss, or make love, or even just feel each other's skin, but I felt more moved by the situation back in the pilot when they couldn't even hold hands, you know?

One other note: Dash Mihok, who played the escaped con, was one of the castmembers in the original "Cavemen" pilot and was essentially the only thing I liked about it. So, of course, he was fired. Glad to see he's moved (even for one episode) from one of this season's worst new shows to one of its best.

What did everybody else think?

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I don't like this thing with Ned and Chuck being able to dance with the beekeeper suites. Are they saying that Ned's "power" only works if it is direct skin contact. That seems kinda cheap.

My other comment is why can't Chuck tell her aunts she is alive? Who are they gonna tell? Or complain to?

bill said...

Speaking of Wednesday roundups, anything to say about Life? Damian Lewis is so much fun to watch in this role, it's become my favorite new show. Still haven't decided if the show itself can match Damian's effort.

bill said...

Hell, it was worth it for Olive and Aunt Vivian's brief duet on They Might Be Giants' "Birdhouse in Your Soul."

definition of frustrating: Looking forward to Ellen Greene and Kristin Chenoweth singing and only getting two lines.

If this was Showtime or HBO, how long until Ned was touching dead things with different brands of condoms to find out which "worked."

memphish said...

This show just makes me happy. Like Alan, I sit and smile as I watch, and I don't have commercials either because I have to record and watch later. While the visuals are still extremely unique, I've moved beyond them. The best thing to me is the writing followed closely by the believable acting. And I'm willing to cut Chuck and Ned a break with the touching stuff.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, for me, this was the episode where the twee overpowered everything else I love about the show. That said, I'm glad it's getting the full season order and getting ratings solid enough so that Fuller can finally have a show that lasts.

bill p said...

I thought this was a crucial episode for Pushing Daisies, as it was the first that was neither written by Bryan Miller or directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. And I think it held up. Will agree about the green screen and cheapish CGI, but it didn't really distract too much.

Anonymous said...

Whoops. Forgot that "Dead Like Me" lasted more than a season.

Here's a question Alan. How big was Fuller's role on "Heroes" and how big of a loss was it to the show that he's now gone?

bill p said...

...and I meant Fuller, not Miller.

J said...

"It's the other one that's necrophilia, right?"

Yeah, the can't-touch thing isn't the strongest element, the show should probably stop hammering away at it. In the end, Pushing Daisies will probably turn out to be about how very important it is to use a condom.

Still amusing for now, still really really really hate the narration.

Isabel said...

I'm glad they have found way around the non-touching. Because, honestly, that is what all of us would do if in the same situation. I think if the show were to never show them finding ways around that issues I would be very upset.

I would rather they didn't find too many way around it. But things like the plastic wrap are perfectly sweet.

The show grabs me a little tighter each week.

BigTed said...

The mystery plot in this episode was complicated -- in a good way -- which was kind of a relief, since the relationship plot lines really don't seem to have anywhere to go.

And it was nice to hear the shout-out to They Might Be Giants, especially when "The Big Bang Theory" has a theme song by Barenaked Ladies that's basically a pale TMBG imitation.

floretbroccoli said...

bill said...
Speaking of Wednesday roundups, anything to say about Life? Damian Lewis is so much fun to watch in this role, it's become my favorite new show.


I've been entertaining myself by imagining the phone call Lewis made to Hugh Laurie before deciding whether or not to accept the role.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Here's a question Alan. How big was Fuller's role on "Heroes" and how big of a loss was it to the show that he's now gone?

Hard to say. Fuller was one of many writers on the show. Tim Kring was clearly in charge and it sounds like he's leaning on Jeph Loeb a lot for the comic book expertise. Fuller was essentially a hired gun. His name is on the script for the season's best episode ("Company Men"), but he's very modestly said that the entire staff contributed to it.

Oh, and vis a vis "Life," I think it's growing on me, but I haven't finished watching last night's episode yet, and the NBC.com video player isn't working for me today.

bill said...

Since you are watching "life," I'll throw this out there. Not saying it's good or bad, but many of Lewis' mannerisms as his character adjusts to the new world remind me a lot of Jeff Bridges in "Starman." Just curious if anyone else made the same connection.

Toby said...

Best part about the shout-out to the group They Might Be Giants was not only that it tied in to the concept of the birdcage of the soul, but also because their name was Don Quixote's justification for attacking the windmills.....

Brandon said...

When they were digging up the body in the graveyard, Chuck touched Ned's jacket to get his attention. It caught me off guard at first, but then i realized if plastic wrap works, why not a jacket.

Anonymous said...

Gossip Girl was very strong last night. Are you off all CW programs now? Besids ANTM.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Gossip Girl was very strong last night. Are you off all CW programs now?

No, I'm still doing weekly "Reaper" reviews, and I had intended to either watch "Gossip Girl" online today (only the CW website is terrible about posting the previous night's episode in a timely fashion) or waiting until the Sunday replay.

Kurt said...

I liked how they finally explained how Digby and Ned managed to never touch in all those years since his resurrection, but I wonder how Digby came to know all the rules that come with Ned's power. But with this show I probably shouldn't bother asking those types of questions.

By the way Alan, have you checked out the new 24 trailer? I have to say, despite being severely let down last season, I'm letting myself become intrigued.

J said...

Gossip Girl was very strong last night

No one wants to like this show more than I, but this week was laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaame. GG needs some serious goosing. I wish Heather Locklear was somebody's mother.

DonBoy said...

Oddly, the bad green-screening only makes the whole thing seem more appropriately psychedelic.

Favorite line: Ned, upon being asked how he knows that the plane was hijacked:

"DNAaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyish."

RandomRanter said...

I liked it, but I agree that it was the TMBG song that made me feel like they earned the time. There are things I like, and I go back and forth on the narration, there are great things about it, but they really do sometimes hammer you over the head with the point.
As to the touching thing, I had envisioned horrid repetition of they almost touch moments, so I am putting up with they find another clever way to touch without touching.

LA said...

Actually, last night's episode was my favorite to date, save the pilot.

I enjoyed Olive and Lily's duet in the car.

XWL said...

Given that the dog hasn't apparently aged in more than a decade, can we assume Chuck won't age until Ned touches her again?

If Ned dies before touching his honey or his dog again, do Chuck and Digby become immortal?

Mac said...

Is it weird that I don't have any problems with the touching-a-dead-person-and-they-live thing or the pie shop or the cheesophagic synchronized swimming aunts, etc., but had a lot of trouble suspending disbelief on the bird flying with a prosthetic wing?

bill said...

Given that the dog hasn't apparently aged in more than a decade, can we assume Chuck won't age until Ned touches her again?

I was wondering that, too. Maybe if something dies again on its own (natural causes / car crash), then Ned is able to touch it again and bring it back to life.

But it would be an odd sort of immortality as the clock doesn't start over. Let's say the dog first died at 5 years old when Ned resurrected it. Then it lived for another 10 years and died of natural causes at 15-years old. If Ned touches it, he's reanimated a 15-year old with all the problems it had when it died? So it eeks out another year or so before dying again, Ned touches it, it lives another 6 months, Ned touches it again, it lives 5 months, etc... This quickly becomes sad and gross.

Or maybe Ned can't reanimate those dying of natural causes. Maybe just those whose lives were ended prematurely. It is interesting that those were killed by traumatic means come to without feeling any pain. I want at least one episode where someone is brought to screaming "OH MY GOD WHERE'S MY LEG! COULD SOMEONE PLEASE JUST PUT ME OUT OF MY MISERY!"

But now I'm just rambling.

Kevin Hines said...

I really love the show, but I constantly wonder why Ned doesn't just wear gloves and long sleeves all the time.

He could have caught Chuck if he did.

Anonymous said...

as the green screen effects in several scenes

It was most visible, yet invisible in the mill. I am sure that the floor wasn't supposed to be made out of green plastic, but was probably going to look like hardwood flooring before the show either ran out of time or money.

Christy said...

Funny, I got the vibe that the dancing in beesuits was metaphor for, you know, dancing. This is a fairy tale. They've already discovered plastic, after all. How big a leap to latex?

Kris Eton said...

I actually *liked* the cheesy CGI. It almost appeared intentional to me.

Loved moments:

*the use of the bedazzler on the pigeon 'repair'
*the private detective's disgust/annoyance with Chuck & Ned's romantic discussion in a prison graveyard
*when Olive realized she had grown to like the aunts too much to reveal Chuck was alive
*the former Charlie from "Heroes" talking about 'windmillery.' That just made me laugh.

chrissie said...

I've decided it's essentially impossible for this show to disappoint me. It's won me over so wholly that I will forgive it any fault I might otherwise nitpick.

One other favorite moment: Ned attempting to "revive" the woman who was actually narcoleptic.