Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pushing Daisies, "Comfort Food" & "The Legend of Merle McQuoddy": Cake or death?

So I'm finally caught up on "Pushing Daisies" and can pre-empt all the "No 'Pushing Daisies' review?" questions at least until next week, which could well be the final episode to air. (Cue the sighs.) Spoilers for the last two episodes coming up just as soon as I shut the a cappella up...

Because it took me so long to finish watching "Comfort Food" (this is a show my wife and I like to watch together, so we have to coordinate), I was able to essentially watch it and "The Legend of Merle McQuoddy" as a double-feature, and it proved enlightening. Both episodes split our four main characters up, the first time pairing Chuck with Emerson and Ned with Olive, the second time giving our lovebirds one story and the sidekicks the other, and I found that the "Comfort Food" recipe of providing equal parts sweet and salty to each story worked much better.

Lee Pace and Anna Friel are beyond adorable together (witness their various kisses through plastic last night), and in some ways Chi McBride and Kristin Chenoweth are even funnier together than separate ("Oh, hell no!" in stereo), but I really preferred the balance of the previous show.

That said, there were a lot of strong elements to both hours.

"Comfort Food" offered up the most confident and proactive Ned we've had in a while (keeping him away from Chuck probably played a role in that), actually used a great guest star (Beth Grant) instead of keeping her on the margins (see Dave Koechner last night for a more typical example), and was one of the best showcases Chenoweth has had to date (and I felt that even before she turned out to be a fan of The Bangles).

"The Legend of Merle McQuoddy," meanwhile, had Ned and Chuck's dad in the awesome broom vs. mop fight (reminiscent of the spork-off from the second-ever episode of "Chuck"), Emerson giving a whole new meaning to the phrase "Tap that!" (a runner-up to "Trip over the ottoman! Dick Van Dyke that ass!" for best line of the episode), and did a good job of using Chuck's dad to point out how many ways both Ned and Chuck would be better off apart.

(Does someone who knows anything about embalming techniques -- or who just watched a lot of "Six Feet Under" -- want to offer their opinion on whether Chuck's dad would be this relatively well-preserved after all this time? Shouldn't he just be a skeleton in a decaying suit?)

Ah, whatever the flaws, I'm going to badly miss this show when it's gone, and Disney had better rush out that season two DVD set so we can see whatever episodes ABC declines to show.

What did everybody else think?

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm still wondering how Kristin Chenowith got into those pants she wore in Comfort Food.

Matt said...

They're saying it's likely ABC burns off the final three Daisies on one night in early January (probably as counterprogramming to one of the big football games). They've also apparently worked with effects and with Jim Dale to change episode 13 from a cliffhanger into a finale of sorts. I'm wondering if it's possible that once he re-deads Chuck's dad again, he loses his "touch," and he and Chuck can touch without consequence.

(Contrast with Dirty Sexy Money, where we're getting some sort of finale, but they'll never show the thanksgiving episode. Hope Samaire Armstrong already got paid.)

Meridith said...

I just have to put in my love for the endless "Pete's Dragon" references. Clearly not the most common source of movie parodies, but they certainly did it justice.

Plus, I'm from Maine and I do miss lighthouses.

LA said...

Matt - I read somewhere (TVGuide.com?) the DSM Thanksgiving show was a clips show of sorts, don't think we missed anything plot-wise.

I love Chenowith and McBride together, their chemistry is delightful. Man, I'm going to mourn PD when it's gone.

ithor6 said...

The Muffin Buffalo crossover made me want to watch Wonderfalls all over again.

Olive's chest bump with Emerson is quite possibly one of the cutest, funniest, and greatest things ever all at the same time.

Shane Botwin finding comfort by laying his head on the bosom of Kristen Chenoweth and then Anna Friel made me laugh and then incited all kinds of jealousy.

Alan Sepinwall said...

The Muffin Buffalo crossover made me want to watch Wonderfalls all over again.

Ohhh... this was the Wonderfalls crossover! I had stopped watching Wonderfalls by the time Grant appeared there, so I had no idea.

LA said...

The chest bump was awesome! How about the rain slickers Olive bought with olives, cods, and pies? I also loved Emerson calling her "Itty Bitty."

shara says said...

Eddie Izzard references are ALWAYS appreciated!

Matt said...

Everyone had stopped watching Wonderfalls by the time "Muffin Buffalo" aired--it's episode 6, which was post-cancellation.

renton said...

Loved the Olive/Emerson stuff, too.

Wouldn't mind seeing those two characters in their own detective show, minus the resurrection angle.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Everyone had stopped watching Wonderfalls by the time "Muffin Buffalo" aired--it's episode 6, which was post-cancellation.

Ah. But I also didn't watch the DVDs.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy how hard it is to get Chi McBride and "itty bitty" in the same shot. In the final scenes in the lighthouse her face barely made it into frame and they cut off the top of his head (shade of Heroes)!

Anonymous said...

Chuck's dad kept making me think of Memoirs of an Invisible Man. Maybe he'll move to Switzerland where he can where a ski mask anytime he goes outside without anyone thinking it's weird.

dez said...

(Cue the sighs.)

SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGH!

Emerson was on fire in both eps ("Dick van Dyke that ass!" is one of my fave lines of his). How I will miss this show. SIIIIIIIIGGHHHH!!!

I hope that before the show ends, Ned revives Dwight to find out what he knows because I doubt Chuck's dad will be forthcoming, plus it would be great to see Stephen Root again.

Itty Bitty chest-bumping Emerson was hilarious.

olucy said...

This show is a complete delight. Too many wonderful lines to cite, but there needs to be an archive of Codisms, just like Houseisms. The actor--and character--are hilarious.

R.A. Porter said...

If we can't have Pushing Daisies, I want a spin-off of Cod & Snook: PIs.

I'd agree that "Comfort Food" was the better episode, but feel some of that is the need to deal with the aftermath of Ned realizing Charles is alive. There was a lot of emotional ground for him to cover this week which impacted the pace. Still great, especially the chest-bump and broom/mop fight, but a little less than the sweet confection last week.

I'm not the first to say it, but in my review I noted how Chenowith is that rare generous performer who makes everyone around her better. I'm going to miss her.

Chris the TV Sage said...

ithor6: don't forget he's got naked pics of MLP, too.

paul said...

So we all know by now that Sorkin used Studio 60 to dump on Chenowith. I kept wondering during "Comfort Food" if Chenowith was using her revealing Pushing Daisies outfits to revenge herself on Sorkin. "Do you miss these?"

Chris said...

paul: what's that you say about Studio 60 and Chenowith? I'm not very well versed in Sorkin trivia.

Alan, I hope my question the other day regarding the PD review wasn't taken badly. I just really loved that episode and thought you would too and wanted to read your always insightful reviews.

I'm so sad this show is finished. I'll have to mainline sugar in order to get my weekly dose of sweet.

Chuck's father is being played by the guy from Ed and Scrubs and stuff right? The tall guy who's great at snarky dialogue?

paul said...

Chris: In a nutshell, Sorkin and Chenowith dated at one time, but had a nasty breakup. In the Studio 60 show, Sorkin used the tensions between Matthew Perry's character (modeled on Sorkin himself) and Sarah Paulson's character (modeled on Chenowith) to vent his anger at Chenowith. If you want the nitty-gritty, run a search for Alan's Studio 60 episode summaries. They're worth reading anyway, but Alan dissects this in some detail.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Sorkin and Chenoweth are back together again (or, at least, they were a few months ago).

Tracey said...

Re embalming: They pretty thoroughly established in that Chuck and her father are Jewish, and they had a Jewish funeral for Charles, and were planning to follow Jewish customs regarding Chuck's burial, which should mean no embalming at all. Of course, not everyone follows every detail of Jewish custom. (Chuck being named after her father is also a violation of Jewish custom)

I was a bit disappointed by this episode, I think mostly because the Dwight Dixon story arc seems to have just sort of piffled out and the twins story arc just plain disappeared. Maybe they'll pick some of this back up in the remaining few episodes, but Heroes has made me very wary of such things.

Karen said...

If Chenoweth can forgive Sorkin the shots he took at her with the Harriet Hayes character, she's a better person than anyone has any right to be.

The chest/stomach bump was priceless. Cod and Snook are the most endearing pair on television, I think.

Matt said...

To be more specific, Chenoweth promoted her second album ("As I Am"), which contained a lot of gospel music, with an appearance on "The 700 Club." Many of her fans, including Sorkin himself (who she was dating at the time) had big issues with it.

I'm not sure that they're still together--it wasn't Sorkin sitting next to her at the Emmys in September.

chrissie said...

I'm so sad this show was canceled right as it hit its stride. Ned's the most energetic and interesting (and might I add attractive) he's been all series.

I had a question about how Ned's power works based on a scene in this week's ep: When Chuck's dad tossed Ned his apple, it decayed and turned black at Ned's touch. Are we supposed to assume it was a piece of previously dead fruit Ned had revived (as we've seen him do), and thus was re-deading? If he makes a habit of reviving dead fruit, how would he then be able to prep those fruits for his pies?

Speaking to the relatively good state of Chuck's post-tapped dad, I've heard another question come up about how Ned's power works. When he touches dead fruit, it not only comes back to life but becomes fully fresh again. Yet, the same doesn't happen to the humans he revives. Is this a philosophical statement on the complexity of human life versus lower forms? Or simply a convenient narrative device?

belinda said...

Is it possible if Fuller could just kill off all the characters in Heroes in one big episode, then hire the cast of PD and inject it into Heroes, and then call the next chapter: Pushing Daisies?

I mean, Ned does have a superpower.

But yeah, I didn't catch the Wonderfalls thing til someone mentioned it. NEAT!

R.A. Porter said...

@chrissie, there's a scene early in season 1 - I think it's the second episode - where they show the piemaking in detail. Ned wears a glove on one hand and is careful to only touch the dead fruit once with his other hand. Sort of like keeping one hand wet and one hand dry in a dredging/battering operation (I invariably screw that up and get both hands wet.)

Ned also doesn't eat his pies, because then they'd just be dead fruit in his mouth.

As for the fruit becoming lush again, I think that's just a narrative conceit.

filmcricket said...

If he makes a habit of reviving dead fruit, how would he then be able to prep those fruits for his pies?

He wears gloves. There was a scene in season one where Chuck is tossing him dead peaches which he catches with an ungloved hand and then immediately holds with a gloved hand, while window flowers died in the background.

That doesn't explain, of course, why he works with dead fruit in the first place. I mean, I supposed all fruit is dead once it's plucked, and so maybe rotten fruit is cheaper or something, but it basically seems like a silly detail that exists purely for either the visual effect of fruit coming back to life, or the plot points it drives (such as when Ned discovered Chuck had been sending pies to the aunts by having a berry turn rotten in his mouth).

What I really don't get is how Ned didn't notice Charles Charles had a glove on his hand when he re-deaded him last week.

Norgard said...

What I really don't get is how Ned didn't notice Charles Charles had a glove on his hand when he re-deaded him last week.

He didn't expect any foul-play, it was fairly dark and cold (so that a recently undeaded hand wouldn't feel that different from a leather glove) and most importantly Ned was distraught because he thought he was taking her father away from Chuck again. His mind was preoccupied with other things.

But that brings me to another question: do I need to have my eyes looked at, or did Chuck not wear the gloves before, when Ned and her were squatting together in the grave? I nearly had a heart attack when she casually took the watch out of his hand without even looking at it. I thought I had just missed her wearing the gloves, but rewatching the scene it looks to me as if her hands are bare.

Anonymous said...

Hurray! Thanks for the review.

I am worried about the wrap-up for the show, because I do NOT think Chuck and Ned are cute together this season. What I see (and others I know agree) is Chuck increasingly taking Ned for granted, putting her own needs first, considering him less and less, and just... treating him as a back-up in her life. Or as a friend says, "Chuck treats Ned like crap." Which makes it hard to believe her claims of love and makes em feel like I'm watching the very very gradual dawning of a breakup. If the show just ended with "and Ned and Chuck are happy together!" it would leave a weird taste in my mouth.

annie said...

Shane Botwin! of course! I couldn't place the face.

On the topic of Ned's superpower... isn't all fruit dead? Once it's pulled from the tree/bush/vine/whatever, doesn't the process of it's cells growing pretty much stop altogether? And even if the fruit does come "back to life", does it merely reset it's decay process? And finally, when he brings people back to life, it doesn't restore them to the peak condition, so why does it work on fruit? Those are the reasons why Ned working his magic on cut plants never made sense to me. But I don't let it interfere with my enjoyment of the show. :)

Toby said...

I don't think it was intentional, but I liked how one of the best lines in this episode, about tripping over the ottoman and "Dick Van Dyke-ing" his ass, came during the week leading up to Dick Van Dyke's birthday. (Dec. 13)

Nice serendipity in that!

dez said...

If the show just ended with "and Ned and Chuck are happy together!" it would leave a weird taste in my mouth.


There are times when I'd like to see it end with Ned and Olive together. At the very least, I'd like to find out who tried to kill Chuck. I'm wondering if it was Dwight Dixon.

Tosy And Cosh said...

I just finished the first season of Picket Fences on DVD, and in one ep Della Reese plays a blues singer who lets Zack (the little kid) play in her band for a number. Reese continually calls him "itty-bitty." It took me SO LONG to figure out wht Cod calling Olive "itty-bitty": sounded so familiar!

I am REALLY going to miss this show when it's done.

Anonymous said...

I've watched PD since the beginning but never thought I'd mourn its absence very much until watching Legend of Merle McQuoddy. I would definitely watch Cod and Snooks: PIs--I love Emerson and Olive together--and I loved the raincoats.

Maryon Loreto said...

Help us save tihs awesome show
SAVE PUSHING DAISIES!!!!!
Sing this petition and write letters to ABC to renew the show
Sing this petition and tell all your friends to sing it too
http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?daisies

It's the best we can do to save this amazing show, we need a lot of sings

dez said...

I don't know the words to "This Petition," but if you hum a few bars, maybe I can sing it :-D

As much as I'd like the show to stay on the air, I don't think online petitions help much. Perhaps y'all can overload ABC with daisies or pies? Or daisy pies?

Matter-Eater Lad said...

"But I also didn't watch the DVDs."

Y'know, if you're looking for a series to review next summer, the way you did Freaks & Geeks and Cupid...

Alan Sepinwall said...

This came up last summer. The reason I didn't watch the DVDs is that I really didn't like the show when it was on Fox and had no inclination to revisit it.

Pushing Daisies is the first Fuller series I've enjoyed unreservedly.