Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pushing Daisies, "Dim Sum Lose Sum": Watch some, miss some

A couple of weeks ago, the great Roger Ebert got in some hot water for reviewing a movie he had (admittedly) stopped watching after the first eight minutes. Ebert later explained his reasoning, and eventually realized that he had screwed up.

I bring up Eight-Minute-Gate because while I was physically present for all 42 minutes or so of last night's "Pushing Daisies," I was mentally present for maybe a third of it, if that. Having just watched the Obamathon, and then the Phillies winning the World Series in the city I lived in for four years, I got a little too sucked into online discussion of both those events (plus a debate with several fellow Penn alums over whether Pat's, Geno's or Jim's has the best cheesesteaks) and realized I was missing large chunks of the episode in question. It looked pretty, as far as I can tell, and the weird card game seemed amusing (though it has a ways to go to beat the thing Barney was playing in the "Atlantic City" episode of "How I Met Your Mother"), but any actual opinions I tried to express about this one would just be guesswork.

So in the interests of full transparency, I'm going to admit defeat and turn this one into a "Pushing Daisies" open thread. Since I have no thoughts, what did everybody else think?

45 comments:

Abby said...

I have a thought - Jim's, hands down. I can barely get down a Pat's or Geno's steak.

That's all I got.

Tracey said...

Hee hee. I watched the first 30-40 minutes or so, then tuned out to watch the Phillies game in the commercial break after the second guy got killed.

PHILS WIN!!! WOO HOO!!!

But getting back to Pushing Daisies... I definitely liked the clever poker game using dim sum. And it looks like they're finally getting somewhere with the Ned's father thing they've been dancing around recently. I DVR'd the rest of the episode, and maybe I'll have more to say when I find out how it ended!

Bobman said...

I liked it. Lots of good Chi McBride stuff, some good Ned backstory. The Mystery of the Week was kinda weak for me but still OK.

I was REALLY surprised they got away with that "come" joke though. Twice! Especially in "family hour."

chrissie said...

I thought the same thing about both "come" punchlines. Maybe even ABC's standards and practices department isn't watching this show.

I thought the episode was slow to get started but picked up toward the end. I was curious if viewers who didn't want to watch the Obama thing would give PD a try, and if that's case, I don't think this was the most accessible episode to get a new viewer hooked.

One technical question: Is anyone else finding the sound mix on the show problematic? Maybe it's just my TV, but PD is the only show I'm hearing it on. It could also be the fact that the score is present throughout the entire episode, something that gives the show its fairy-tale feel but an element I found especially distracting last night.

Tosy And Cosh said...

YES!!! I constantly have trouble hearing the dialogue on PD, and have to have the TV volume higher for it than any other show. There's something weird going on with the mixing. A pity, too, since the dialogue is so strong.

Anonymous said...

I also have some issues with sound, but find that watching with closed captioning on always helps, not to mention always easy to follow the dialogue which is always fascinating and well written. It will be a sad day if the suits at ABC close down the Pie Hole.

RTVW said...

I also agree that this wasn't the most accessible episode to grab new viewers. Of course, it wasn't like they knew ahead of time that would be the case so I can't fault ABC or the show for it. It just left me disappointed that it wasn't an episode that I thought would entice people to watch if they weren't already fans.

Which isn't to say it wasn't good. It deserves a rewatch from me as I was distracted but the outfits the gang wore made the episode for me. Chi in a wig? Kristen and Anna as chinese waitresses? All of it priceless. Not to mention the joke about Lee Pace's noticable eyebrows with the twin brothers having horrendously fake ones to match.

Devin McCullen said...

Odd, because I started nodding off for some reason about 2/3 of the way through (I don't blame the show - I decided maybe I just needed a short nap & then woke up at 3 AM), so I really can't comment either.

RTVW said...

@anonymous: Agreed. Although I will say the sound may very well be why I prefer to watch this show with CC turned on. I assumed it was because I can't always keep up with the fast-paced dialogue but the ever present score sometimes making it hard to hear things also makes sense.

dez said...

Since I have no thoughts, what did everybody else think?


I think you missed a laugh-out-loud, cute ep and I also think you need to rewatch it. It was a Chi McBride showcase and he was hilarious :-) And it did have a higher quotient of dirty jokes than I'm used to in the "family hour" :-D

LA said...

An Emerson-centric episode like this one is always aces in my book. I thought his "disguise" at the poker game was a nod to Bernie Mac circa Oceans Eleven. At any rate, Chi steals the show every week.

"Came and went." Hee.

Oh, and a resounding YES on the sound problems. I just thought it was very old television, but I don't have the same situation with other shows.

LA said...

An Emerson-centric episode like this one is always aces in my book. I thought his "disguise" at the poker game was a nod to Bernie Mac circa Oceans Eleven. At any rate, Chi steals the show every week.

"Came and went." Hee.

Oh, and a resounding YES on the sound problems. I just thought it was very old television, but I don't have the same situation with other shows.

R.A. Porter said...

Chi wearing a Chai, eyebrows, the come jokes, and Jimmy James. This one was good for me.

I thought the MoW was a hair better than average, helped along quite a bit by the dim sum poker game and Emerson's love for the pork rolls. But the writers know what they do well and packed it in this week.

They added a love interest for Emerson - reintroducing dominatrix/dog trainer Simone Hundlin - to give him more to do as the season progresses and greatly deepened the mystery of Ned's father. There are now three ongoing mysteries (I imagine Olive will be getting one soon, too) at which the writers truly excel.

I watched it after the Obama Half-Hour Flower Power Variety Hoe Down, so I wasn't distracted. Here's my review.

Carolyn said...

@LA: not only was he a nod to Bernie Mac, but the bits with Chuck and Olive handing back and forth of the keys to the men's room felt like a Charlie's Angel's homage in itself.

loved (as usual) all the pop and pizzazz and color in this episode.

R.A. Porter said...

@carolyn, the key bit was an homage to a lot of movies that have done that, I think. Because the one that I thought it most closely resembled was Office Space. And with Stephen "Milton" Root guesting, that would be subtly self-referential.

LeeZy said...

I just kept thinking that it would've been far easier to play Dim Sum Poker as Texas Hold'Em style as opposed to 5 card draw...

Less Dim Sum containers would be used...

And since I'm nitpicking... I think I did see an egg custard pastry in one of the containers... would like to know how that would taste as chicken, beef, shrimp, or pork flavor...

R.A. Porter said...

@leezy, if we want to nitpick, what's a Beijing-bred chef doing cooking Cantonese-style? There's no reason he might not want to, but it's a little like a New Yorker being obsessed with the cuisine of the desert southwest.

And that would *never* happen.

LeeZy said...

R.A.

Wow... you are so right about the Beijing bred chef cooking Cantonese style... it's not likely...

But since you are knowledgeable about these things, you have probably noticed that Cantonese is rarely spoken by Chinese characters on TV... It's always Mandarin. I would have been tickled pink to find out that Chuck spoke Cantonese...

I also would like to point out to fans of the show watching, the chef's name "Bao"... is the chinese word for... you guessed it... bun... like the pork buns in the episode...

Alan... any word on the ratings for the only original scripted programming last night?

Christopher said...

I agree that you're probably going to want to go back and watch this one, Alan.
I thought both Chi and the overall dialogue were pretty great throughout, and I came here fully expecting to find a glowing review from you. Probably my favorite ep of the season so far.

Anonymous said...

Chi McBride's reactions to Simone's clicker are hilarious. I also love the way Olive is always getting in his way.

The Jim Dale's narrative and its integration are priceless..."I have an uncomfortable fullness of the bladder" LOL

Watch with Kristen at E!Online has a link to a Save the Daisies petition...http://www.petitiononline.com/daisies/petition.html

LeeZy said...

R.A.

You have also inadvertently helped me prove that there is something wrong with Bobby Flay...

R.A. Porter said...

@leezy - LOL!

Nicole said...

Sorta off topic, but I felt bad for Ebert having to watch the rest of that crappy movie. He admitted he only saw the first eight minutes in the initial review so I don't understand what the problem is. If someone was that curious, they should endure the movie themselves.

I did love his blog entry about a critic's 10 rules to follow, and the one about never taking pictures with the stars you interview was clearly a shot at Ben Lyons, nepotist extraordinaire.

Alan, I was wondering if you had a similar code of sorts for television criticism.

Dave said...

Alan, you went to Penn too?? I've been reading (and enjoying) your reviews for a couple of years now (especially The Wire) and never knew that. Awesome. I was just as distracted and pleased to see the Phillies win it all. A great city like Philadelphia deserves it.

By the way, I always loved Abner's cheesesteaks on Penn campus...mmmmm...Abner's....

But, even though I missed Pushing Daisies last night, for some reason "A Channel" had it on Tuesday this week up here in Canada, so I got to watch it then. Very very enjoyable, as always. The dialogue reminds me a lot of the best of The West Wing - fast and clever and easy to miss the jokes. Hope it got good ratings last night...

filmcricket said...

Chi McBride was on fire last night. I agree with previous posters - you definitely need to watch it again, Alan.

I didn't even think Ocean's 11 - nice. The two possible movie homages that stood out for me were the milk drinking in the speakeasy, which I assumed was a reference to Some Like It Hot, and the cinematography (and Emerson & Ned's disguises) which reminded me a lot of Guy Ritchie's stuff (and poker is a big plot point in Lock, Stock).

Also, I adore "Esteban" Root. It's so weird to see him frequently play mean, dangerous or messed-up characters, when he seems like such a sweetheart in real life. Did anyone think for a moment that he was going to turn out to be Ned's dad? The fact that Olive immediately liked him made me think so. But I guess even after 20 years Ned would still recognize the man who dropped him as "baggage." Poor Ned.

Kristin said...

I loved this one. Just because the setting was so much fun. Over-the-top Chinese restaurant. Oh,and no one mentioned the hilarity of the dead guy at the morgue. Everyone ducking the pipe...and then when he tried to run out the door! I was cracking up.

And the slo-mo Matrix-esque move of Emerson when that second pipe went a-flyin'.

Loved the eyebrow twins, the clicker lady and her strange powers over Emerson and how he refused to talk about it to Ned & Chuck, how Chuck is now using "Kitty Pims" as her permanent alias, Ned's rant about how the restaurant patron mentioned his mother and wondered if he really knew his mother (and the whole long thing that went with that), the COSTUMES!

I'm so bad at remembering the dialogue that makes me laugh, but I know there were several times where I thought I would read that line of dialogue on the blog today. GOOD STUFF.

You should've tape Barack and watched "Daisies" instead.

R.A. Porter said...

@kristin, the dialog was especially snappy last night. There was one line from Chuck...in my review I said I wasn't sure Lauren Graham or Cybill Shepherd wouldn't have choked on it.

olucy said...

I have to agree, this was one of the best eps of an always-good show. Definitely worth a rewatch.

Emerson/McBride is inspired. The dialogue was particularly snappy, the whole plot was pretty clever and the costumes were fantastic on Lucy and Eth--um, Chuck and Olive.

lambertman said...

The ratings: 6.64 million viewers, 2.2 rating in the demo...both season-highs, but both still 4th behind all three networks showing the Obama infomercial.

And the show was already scheduled to be pre-empted for the next two Wednesdays. Beyond that, noone knows.

olucy said...

I understand why it's preempted on Nov. 5 -- Election Day bumpage of DWTS from its usual Tuesday spot.

But why is it preempted the following week?

lambertman said...

Country Music Association Awards on Nov. 12.

Jennifer said...

That figures on the ratings. Sigh. I hope this isn't the last episode aired, but...

It was a good one too. Emerson and Simone were a hoot, and Ned's brothers! And the tricksy food poker!

olucy said...

If the ratings don't soon improve, Ned may have to touch himself.

Christopher said...

"see, what we need now is a mirror."

maybe my favorite line from last night.

Grunt said...

I suspect we'll get one more episode. They previewed the next episode during the closing credits.

Kevin said...

Did it occur to anyone else that the episode was suggesting that the reason Ned's dad left is because he has the same power as Ned, and Ned died, was brought back, and now Dad needs to avoid physical contact to keep him alive (and he feared boarding school wasn't working as a permanent kind of separation, because Ned kept wanting to come home)? Perhaps that's how Ned got the power in the first place, some sort of genetic thing that kicks in when you die and are brought back? And the same thing happened with one of the twin's, during a magic trick gone horribly wrong? Of course, they spent the whole episode getting Ned to the point of thinking that his dad had perhaps a justifiable reason for leaving, so it might all be a swerve...

R.A. Porter said...

@kevin, maybe, but Ned's dad did put his hand on his shoulder when he dropped him off at boarding school.

Kevin said...

@r.a. porter, I had forgotten that. If it wasn't skin-to-skin, it wouldn't completely destroy the theory, but I'll concede that it certainly doesn't support the "Dad goes overboard to avoid touching Ned" part of it.

chrissie said...

The fact that the Stephen Root character apparently wants to locate Ned's father in order to kill him suggested to me that Ned's dad is in some kind of trouble, possibly over a gambling debt, and needed to disappear.

As for the promos, notice they don't tag out the end with any specific tune-in time. They just open the promo with "On the next all-new Pushing Daisies..." They never say exactly WHEN that all-new Pushing Daisies will be.

My favorite line from last night: "piss jitters"

Anonymous said...

@filmcricket: I definitely thought Root was going to turn out to be the father. Certainly wasn't expecting him to be whatever the final scene revealed him to be.

This ep really made me want some bao. I wish we had a dim sum place here in Bethlehem, Pa. (And I can't help but wonder how long it'll take the Philly fans to turn on them.)

dez said...

My favorite line from last night: "piss jitters"

I liked that twist on "piss shivers." Couldn't believe that made it past the censors for an 8 p.m. show, either!

Matthew L said...

I just kept thinking that it would've been far easier to play Dim Sum Poker as Texas Hold'Em style as opposed to 5 card draw...

Less Dim Sum containers would be used...


Surely they will still need to have 52 containers to play with, it's just a question of how many are in front of each player. And I can see that the game would be made more difficult if it was Hold'em (or indeed any game with community cards), since you've now got five open containers on the table that all the players are trying to look into, and that will be complicated. At least with Five Card Draw, you have a clear delineation between the individual's containers and the pack on the lazy susan.

Although I do find the idea of them playing some of the more complicated poker games quite amusing. For some reason, I would love to see them trying to play Razz.

Jeff W. said...

I thought the same thing about both "come" punchlines. Maybe even ABC's standards and practices department isn't watching this show.

PD gets away with some amazingly dirty jokes, which is one of the things I love about it. See Emerson's dental dam joke from last week ("with a girl like that, you'd better") The subtle dirty jokes make the Ned/Chuck tension that much more interesting...

Tracey said...

Hmn... well, if their goal in shunning Obama was to increase PD's ratings, they squandered that by preempting the very next episode for a Very Special Episode of Dancing with the Stars.

Tracey said...

Ouch, not just one week of preemption but two! Start the series late, show five episodes, then skip two weeks and pick up in the middle of sweeps. Are they going out of their way to find excuses to dump this show?