Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pushing Daisies: The fickle finger of fate

Spoilers for "Pushing Daisies" coming up just as soon as I buy some vanilla extract...

I'm not sure whether this is the last episode completed before the strike shut down production (when the strike began, the LA Times said they'd be able to complete nine episodes, and this was show nine), but if so, I'm as disappointed as I've been as my other favorites have, one by one, run out of episodes. This was another strong, confident, weird, pretty episode and I may need to borrow some mood enhancers to replace the giddy feeling it often provides me.

Nine episodes admittedly isn't a huge sample size -- this will be a lot more surprising by episode 30 (if the show makes it that far) -- but I continue to remain impressed by the sick-but-sweet imagery the show cooks up, in this case the corpse-containing snowmen, plus Aunt Lily's hallucinations. (The bees under their winter covers were also cool to look at.) Couple that with some more eccentric guest characters -- notably the perky to the point of homicide Make-A-Wish lady -- the usual Emerson and Olive one-liners and some understandable romantic angst, and you've got another winner.

I'm glad that the writers didn't use Chuck's discovery of the truth about her father's death as a wedge to split up her and Ned for a bunch of episodes -- the whole no-touching thing is as much Unresolved Sexual Tension as any show needs -- and I thought Friel did a nice job of playing the head vs. heart conflict Chuck was dealing with.

Because the heat in my house has been off all day for some minor home repairs my fingers feel as frozen as Emerson and Ned's must have last night, so I'm going to move on to bullet points and then put on a pair of gloves:

-Vis a vis Chuck's desire for Ned to bring her dad back for a minute, wouldn't the guy be a skeleton by now? How comforting would that be for her?

-This show usually calls upon the comic side of Chi McBride's vast talents (see his complains about the non-word "Ginormous"), but Emerson's confession about his daughter was a potent reminder of what a great dramatic actor he can be. If forced to choose, I'd pick Funny Chi, but the man's a true double-threat.

-Has Chuck's mom even been mentioned before? Does she believe her mom died in childbirth or something? And which is worse: Chuck's mom making her think she's her aunt, or Chuck making her aunt/mom think she's dead?

-God, I love morgue attendant guy. One scene per episode, a couple of lines at most, and he's always funny.

-I didn't mention Paul Reubens when he first appeared, but I hope he comes back now and then to (literally) sniff around Chuck. I like how he's chosen to dial down his own innate weirdness, since the character as written is so weird that a more understated performance actually accentuates what's on the page.

What did everybody else think?

22 comments:

R.A. Porter said...

Grrr!!! Stupid, greedy congloms!!! I want more Ned and Chuck!

I thought it was an affecting, bittersweet episode. I particularly liked the way Lee Pace managed to emphasize Ned's emotional immaturity. It doesn't normally stand out that he's so stunted, because the situations are so bizarre. Under those circumstances, he seems no more or less childish than his friends.

Last night, Chuck was dealing with her emotions like an adult; Emerson exposed himself to help a friend in pain; and Olive put aside her desires to help her friend. But Ned was still needy Ned. A credit to Pace and his performance that I still felt that his pain wasn't too selfish.

There can't be enough Paul Reubens on TV, so I hope he's going to be a semi-regular presence as either a nemesis or ally (preferably as some indeterminate and fluctuating mixture of the two.) I'm sure it's just me, but I can't help but be reminded of Sewer Urchin every time I see Oscar Vibenius.

BigTed said...

One thing I like about this show is that it does melancholy as well as it does sweet. (In fact, the sweet is dialed up so high that the melancholy makes for a necessary ballast.)

I'd certainly like to know what kind of "homeopathic mood enhancers" are actually effective, can survive being baked in a pie, and cause colorful hallucinations and then truth-telling in large doses. Because whatever they are, I'd like to try some.

Was I imagining things, or was the view of the snowy street from the house in this episode exactly the same as the one from the bed-and-breakfast in "Groundhog Day"? There was even the same arch at the border of the yard. (Unfortunately, I have no immediate way of checking this.)

It was nice to see Grant Shaud (Miles from "Murphy Brown") for a few minutes, in a "what ever happened to that guy?" kind of way.

My only beef with this episode is that the thing with Paul Reubens was resolved way too easily. Chuck decided not to tell him her secret, and that was that. We didn't see him scheming to find out in other ways, or get any idea of what he would do about it if he knew. I suppose that plot line is meant to continue, but other than telling us that Chuck would like to have someone to talk to, it really wasn't advanced at all here.

Kristin said...

My favorite dialogue exchange of the night was Emerson and the morgue guy. The whole thing about Christmas-themed sweaters had me laughing out loud.

And the jerk of a kid needing a heart transplant. Hilarious.

I can't believe this may be it for a long, long time...I NEED to see this show every week.

I agree, damn greedy bastards who can't pay out a measly few cents per viewing on internet downloads and such??? What the hell!? This writers' strike needs to be over NOW.

Bobman said...

Was I imagining things, or was the view of the snowy street from the house in this episode exactly the same as the one from the bed-and-breakfast in "Groundhog Day"? There was even the same arch at the border of the yard. (Unfortunately, I have no immediate way of checking this.)

THANK YOU BIG TED. I thought the same thing! It's funny how such a quick glimpse of an inconsequential scene can immediately trigger a "hey, isn't that...." reaction.

Karen said...

Was I imagining things, or was the view of the snowy street from the house in this episode exactly the same as the one from the bed-and-breakfast in "Groundhog Day"? There was even the same arch at the border of the yard.

So it wasn't just me!

I just loved this episode. There were so many lines that literally made me laugh out loud. And, yes, Chi McBride is a formidable actor, on every conceivable level.

Alan, I'm glad you also brought up the point about the condition Chuck's dad would be in. We've seen weekly and extremely graphic proof of how reanimating the dead makes no difference in their appearance, so the Zombie Dad that would await Chuck after, what, 20 years in the ground--truly distasteful. The only flaw in this otherwise perfect episode was their failure to address this point.

And I loved the quilted hive cosies with a strange and wonderful love. As well as the hallucinated crab. Nice that all Lily's hallucinations were marine related.

I love this show so damn much. I hate that it's going away indefinitely.

dez said...

The only flaw in this otherwise perfect episode was their failure to address this point.

I don't think Ned reminding Chuck that her dad wouldn't be looking (or smelling) so hot after all this time was a flaw. I think it was more a sign of kindness that he simply said no and left it at that.

OTOH, I can fanwank just about anything, so there ya go :-)

Love The Tick ref, r.a. porter--I was reminded of Sewer Urchin, too! I wouldn't be surprised if that was the influence for the character's look when he's mucking about the sewers, either.

When will the damn strike be over? I need more PD! At least it got the Globe nomination today :-)

cpennylane said...

As far as I know (from other sources) this is the last episode pre-strike. I will miss it.

I think I read something about the house from Bewitched being used as well. If so, that's pretty cool.

And to fill your Wednesday nights, you could watch and review the Wonderfalls DVDs.

Number Five said...

I also love the morgue doctor...every time he appears, I wait for the harrumph. You know it's coming!

I actually thought it would have made sense if Chuck had taken longer to forgive Ned, but I can also understand how they did it in this episode. It just goes to show how powerful the bond between them is, and also, to be a bit more cynical, how little they seem to have outside of each other.

RA Porter -- I agree about Ned this week and thought it was an interesting contrast to last week, where his emotional makeup led him to the arguably more mature position about retaliating against Molly Shannon. Another thing I think the show does very well is avoid treating Ned by different rules just because he is the lead character.

I thought I could handle everything the show could throw at me, but the resolution featuring Bobo the bonobo halving the Wish a Wish lady followed by "Aunt" Lily's hallucination-induced confession...wow. What a note to go out on!

Alex said...

As much as I like the show, Bobo, was not a Bonobo, though Bobo was a monkey, and it is important to note Bonobos are not monkies, they are apes.

Mac said...

I'm glad that I wasn't the only one who was reminded of Sewer Urchin. (Lately, I've been rewatching The Tick, which is being re-aired on one of those mysterious digital channels.)

I think that in the last episode, or the one before, Olive asked the aunts -- or rather aunt and mother -- about Chuck's mom, and Lily responded with a curt "She died". I didn't see this one coming until just before it happened.

Anonymous said...

If you need any further proof that Bryan Fuller was the lynchpin of awesomeness on "Heroes," you just need to see what has his fingerprints all over it and what doesn't.

At the end of this half season of "Pushing Daisies," there wasn't a single dud, and the season finale did what a season finale should do, it left us both satisfied and begging for more.

At the end of this season, I realized I loved every character because they're all written so sharply and every actor because their performances were so spot on.

Come Emmy time, there need to be nominations for Chi McBride and Kristin Chenoweth for supporting.

daveawayfromhome said...

I'm not sure that the state of Chuck's father would have bothered her at all, certainly none of the various bodies they've woken up so far have upset her. I also suspect that since he'd be a skeleton by now (2 decades plus) it's just as well they didnt play that card - it would have been a Special Effects Moment, no matter how well (or poorly) the effect was done.

Alex R. said...

Regarding Anonymous' mention of both Chi McBride and Kristin Chenowith for Emmys, I second that. Eespecially for McBride.

On the flispde, I don't get the award love for Lee Pace and Anna Friel. They are fine, perfectly solid in their roles, but this show is similar to "Will & Grace" in that the supporting guy & gal steal every scene from the lead, guy & gal. (of course, let me just clarify and say on this show's worst day, it's bettern than dreck like "Will & Grace").

But I want to offer a dissent on the Paul Reubens love. I don't get it.

Just like I went on a ditribe against Andy Richter in the "30 Rock" posting, I would offer the same P.O.V. on Reubens. He's a weird, creepy little actor and kind of like Molly Shannon (who annoys me everytime she's ever on screen, anywhere) I feel the same way about Reubens. Just one man's opinion.

But back to Chi McBride, I love the guy and he makes me laugh out loud with just about every line he utters. A very versatile actor who deserves an Emmy nom.

R.A. Porter said...

I've got to jump to Molly Shannon's defense. I haven't seen Year of the Dog yet, but by all accounts her performance is pitch-perfect in that film. And I was blown away by her job in the "My Last Chance" episode of Scrubs.

Then again, I love Andy Richter and Paul Reubens as well.

Anonymous said...

Go out now and rent Year of the Dog. It's an incredible film!

"On the flispde, I don't get the award love for Lee Pace and Anna Friel. They are fine, perfectly solid in their roles, but this show is similar to "Will & Grace" in that the supporting guy & gal steal every scene from the lead, guy & gal."

I couldn't diagree more in terms of the female characters. Kristin Chenowith doesn't impress me that much at all in this show; I mean, she is perfectly fine. Whereas Anna Friel blows me away; I love watching her perform.

srh said...

This is one of my favorite shows, but I have a question that's been bothering me since the last episode I am hoping someone can help me with.
When Ned brings a piece of fruit back to life for his pies, doesn't something else need to die? Maybe I'm missing something, but that doesn't make sense to me.

AlexR said...

SRH,

I am assuming if he's bring a strawberry back to life, he's killing something of equal value, say like a pear somewhere nearbye or a grape.

I doubt Olive or Chuck has to worry if he makes a strawberry live.

AlexR said...

R.A. Porter-

Should I also assume you like Giovanni Ribisi, Laurie Metcalfe and Zooey Deschanel? Those are 3 more weird actors I have a visceral hatred of everytime they appear on screen.

I hope not!

R.A. Porter said...

Ned keeps a lot of live flowers around in planters. They die when the fruit is revived.

alexr: I'm pretty indifferent to Ribisi, think Metcalfe is fine, and adore Zooey Deschanel. As for Andy Richter, I've loved every show he's ever done and would probably watch even Big Bang if he guested.

Anonymous said...

Was I imagining things, or was the view of the snowy street from the house in this episode exactly the same as the one from the bed-and-breakfast in "Groundhog Day"? There was even the same arch at the border of the yard.

I'm so glad many other people noticed that too! While we're on the subject of stuff you notice from other shows, is it just me or have I seen the old Stephens' house from "Bewitched" on several occasions in shows airing in 2007? Might have even seen it in a Daisies episode, but have definitely seen it at least once or twice on some new show. For some reason that house with the white top and the brick bottom stands out to me like that window view from "Groundhog Day".

Mase said...

It took me a while, and may have been mentioned already, but Lee Pace has Peter Gallagher-esque eyebrows! Don't know why I did not notice them sooner.

rick s said...

Yes the corpsicle episode included the bewitched house. The series is filmed by Warner Bros. and house is on their lot. If you check the bewitched website you see the Partridge family house is used, as well as the Small Soldiers house(Movie)I think it was slightly altered for the "mermaids house". The houses across the street are 2-3 doors away from bewitched house.

Rick