OTHER PUSHING DAISIES SEASONS
OTHER CHEERFUL SHOWS
OTHER AFTERLIFE SHOWS
Ned is a piemaker who runs a restaurant called 'The Pie Hole'. He has a sideline in murder investigation with his partner Emerson. Their method of detection relies on Ned's peculiar abilities. He is able to touch any dead thing and make it live again. If he touches it a second time, however, it dies forever. If he allows the dead thing to live for more than one minute then something else will die in its place. These are the peculiar rules by which he lives. When his childhood sweetheart dies, Ned brings her back and allows her to live, knowing that he will never again be able to touch her.
We're not sure that there has ever been anything quite like PUSHING DAISIES. Originality is something of a premium these days so when something truly original comes along then we like to cherish it and PUSHING DAISIES is worth cherishing. It is, however, a marmite show. That is to say that you will either love the silliness, the quirkiness, the downright bizarreness of it all or you will find it twee and oversweet and sickening.
We at the Sci Fi Freak Site are firmly in the former camp. We like the show's cheerful nature, its bright production, the witty script and the brilliantly light playing of all the show's recurring characters. There's just enough of an edge to the stories to keep them from sinking into a blancmangy mess, enough acid in the dialogue and enough death to balance out the sweetness. This is, after all, a show about love and death.
PUSHING DAISIES is unique and manages to maintain itself over the nine episodes of this first series. It is uncertain as to whether it could continue to do so, but we'd be willing to see it it try. It remains to be seen as to whether there are enough others who feel the same way.Top
Ned makes pies. When he was young, however, he discovered that he had a unique talent. He can bring the dead back to life with just a touch. Unfortunately, if he touches them again they die permanently and if he leaves them untouched for more than a minute then someone else in the area randomly dies. This talent has led to a sideline in murder investigation. After all, how much easier could it be to solve a murder than to have the corpse answer the simple question 'who killed you'?. Then the corpse turns out to be the girl with whom he fell in love as a child and he cannot resist bringing her back and leaving her alive. she decides to solve her own murder and Ned is dragged along for the ride.
PUSHING DAISIES is twee. Just look at the title of the pilot episode. Let's point that out right at the beginning so that all the people who couldn't get along with the whimsical nature of EUREKA can save their time and change the channel.
Now that we've lost that audience we can get on with saying just how much we liked the opening episode of this surreal, bizarre show. Reality doesn't come into play here. The stylised direction from Barry Sonnenfield is ripped straight out of his ADDAMS FAMILY films, but with added colour and less of the ghoulishness. The characters are kooky, offbeat and just plain wierd, but that doesn't matter because they're played by the likes of Kristin Chenoweth, Swoosie Kurtz and Ellen Greene all of whom can make this sort of quirky material work. There's also a harsh edge to it all (this is about dead people after all) that keeps it charming rather than sickly. Even Jim Dale's potentially sick-making narration works perfectly.
Which brings us to the raison d'etre and piece de resistance of the show - the relationship between Ned and Chuck. This is the stuff of sugar overdoses, but it never strays over that line and is simply endearing all the way through. Lee Pace and Anna Friel are fresh and lovely and pull of what would seem like an impossible task of making such a relationship believable, interesting and affecting.
In fact, our only worry is that a confection this souffle light will be hard to maintain week after week, but we're certain we're going to be there to find out.Top
Ned is enjoying having Chuck in his life once again. Chuck is enjoying being alive again. Emerson is not liking having someone else delving into the murder cases with them and Olive isn't happy about the man she is in love with being in love with someone else. That's all background to their current case, that of a man who was not killed in a car accident, but was murdered by a crash test dummy.
If the Pie-lette didn't decide for you whether you loved or hated this show then this second episode certainly will (if you got to see it in the right order. In the UK this was not aired by ITV1 following a scheduling balls up and was later made available as a 'bonus' episode on the channel's website). It contains all of the kooky silliness, bright and cheerful production design and unpredictable plotting of the opener, but throws in an extra dose of marmite in the shape of Kristin Chenoweth belting out a constantly interrupted version of 'Totally Devoted to You'. Now the woman can sing, so it's not the performance that might give you problems, but rather the fact that there's a musical number in there at all. Over-egging the pudding is a very real risk, but once again it is pitched to perfection with enough moments of joyous wonder that we couldn't help getting swept along with it all.
The plot (such as it is) revolves around a car powered by dandelion extract (really) and its safety record. There's enough of an edge to this idea (not to mention hanging corpses and faceless test dummies) to keep the sweetness from becoming cloying and the performances remain the show's best asset.
Echoing the words of the song, it's only episode two and already we're totally devoted to it.Top
The funeral home director who was stealing precious heirlooms off his clients and who died as a result Ned's bringing Chuck back from the dead comes back to haunt them both as his brother hires Emerson to find out who killed him. As Chuck learns the truth about this side of being brought back and comes to terms with that, Olive learns the truth (or at least part of it) about Chuck.
For some reason that remains inexplicable (but has something to do with football coverage) ITV skipped episode 2 and went stragith into episode 3. Fortunately, we don't seem to have missed too much in the way of plot arc. In fact, the show seems to be continuing from the same place as the Pie-lette ended. It also continues in exactly the same kooky, but delightfully charming way. This week we have a search for buried treasure stolen from the dead, pies baked with gruyere cheese and herbal antidepressants, civil war swords and windows that are too small.
The highlight is undoubtedly the sparkling swordfight that graces the final act, spliced in with the history of a chinese born southern gentleman. It's just glorious - silly, sharply choreographed, funny and ending in a moment of charm so delicate that it would have been sick-making had it not been handled just right. That duel alone is worth watching the episode.
The only real downside to the whole show is the speed with which everyone speaks. It's pitched so fact that it becomes almost a monotone and some of the best lines get flattened. It's a minor quibble, though, in a show that has captured us in just two episodes.Top
A pigeon flies into the Pie Hole window and Ned accidentally touches it so that it comes back to life. Unable to touch it again without revealing himself to Olive, Ned worries that this is the cause of a light plane crashing into a building nearby. The occupant of the plane turns out to be an escaped prisoner on the run to reclaim some hidden diamonds. Olive takes the injured pigeon to Chuck's aunts who give it a new wing and it sets off with a message for a lonely windmill girl with a wooden leg. Everything seems set for emotional reunions.
PUSHING DAISIES is utterly, utterly bonkers in a way that no TV show has ever been bonkers before. Which is our way of saying that we love it. Each episode to date has been gloriously bizarre, unpredictable, outrageous total nonsense.
But it works and the reason that it works is the charm. That charm is partly in the scripting and partly in the primary colour production design, but it is mainly in the acting. Even the minor parts of the windmill owner and the escaped convict are played with comic lightness and charm, making the most of the delightfully kooky love story that they find themselves caught up in.
This show is likely to be the Marmite of genre shows - you either love it completely or hate it utterly - but one thing that everyone can agree about is that this is a true original.Top
John Joseph Jacobsen could have been the greatest jockey there ever was, but at the height of his career he fell from his horse and was trampled to death. Olive Snook, now waitress at the Pie Hole, was also a jockey in that race and she has been living with the secret that Jacobsen's death was not an accident. Now the other jockeys in that race are being killed by what appears to be the ghost of the dead rider. Olive hires Emerson to find out.
Yet again, PUSHING DAISIES comes up with an utterly original and entertaining story. Kristin Chenoweth takes centre stage as the woman with a secret and certainly makes the most of her kooky, but charming part. At the same time, Lee Pace has to deal with a story of parental abandonment that, right from Jim Dale's delightful, rhyming opening narration, is actually really touching.
Once again, the show is souffle light and full of fun. The avenging horserider is also pretty impressive.Top
Emerson is delighted when the latest murder victim that Ned reanimates states quite simply that his wife did it with poisoned coffee. Unfortunately for Emerson, the man was a polygamist with four wives and all of them made coffee for him that day. The only clues left revolve around a missing dog, a dog that appears to have been bred to be a superdog.
It's getting hard to review PUSHING DAISIES because it's the same things week after week that delight. The original plotting that goes off in all directions, the witty scripting, the perfect comic timing of the performers, the surreal production design.
This week, though, we also get a couple of sly digs at big business (nothing too serious of course) and the sight of Anna Friel taking her skin off in a very disturbing (for Ned) dream.Top
A perfume designer about to market a new book falls under suspicion when his devoted assistant is killed. When his car is blown up, suspicion turns in the direction of a rival who lives in the sewers.
The phrase 'murder by scratch n sniff' tells you all you need to know about this week's episode of PUSHING DAISIES. If it puts you off straight away then you desperately do not need to watch this. If, however, it seems like the most delightfully batty idea ever then this is the show for you. The freewheeling plot ranges from perfume to pop up books to cup pies to sewers to smelly socks embroidered with death threats. It's all very, very silly and all utterly charming.
The Sci Fi Freak Site has also been a fan of Ellen Greene since she sang 'Suddenly Seymour' in THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, so when she launches into a peculiarly moving rendition of 'Morning has broken' our affection for the show deepened into the kind of love shared by Ned and Chuck.Top
A sweet shop opens up across the street and the brother and sister owners seems determined to shut down the Pie Hole. Ned seems equally determined not to retaliate, so Chuck and Olive do it for him, leading to his arrest for the murder of the brother shop owner. Emerson is therefore left to solve a murder the old-fashioned way.
A man is drowned in his own vat of saltwater taffy in this week's episode, something that will cause instant cavities in the teeth of those who believe that this show is overly sweet to begin with. Once again, however, the confection is perfectly balanced - light, bright, cheerful, silly, funny, sad and with occasional flashes of darkness. We have fallen so far in love with this show that it's hard to find fault, but mainly because there is no fault to be found.
Anna Friel and Kristin Chenoweth both have chances to shine this week and prove once again that it is the cast and the characters that make the show what it is and keep it from turning cloying and twee.
That said, the music drowns out some of Jim Dale's narration this week.Top
Ned searches frantically for Chuck following his admission to her that he was inadvertantly responsible for her father's death. This gets in the way of his investigating a series of insurance adjusters who keep turning up dead, frozen in the snow after being bludgeoned to death by a baseball bat with the word 'kindness' stencilled on it.
The series finale is the closest that the show comes to real life and emotions as Chuck wrestles with the information that she has just learned and Ned wrestles with the fear that he may just have lost the best thing that ever happened to him for reasons that were totally beyond his control. Their scenes together are played totally straight, without the show's bizarre and surreal edge.
That is reserved for the plot about insurance adjusters and a suspect whose son is tied dto a drip and a wheelchair because of a weak heart. As usual, the hard edge of that setup is enough to ward off the candy floss sweetness. In fact, this is the first episode that has missed the balance and actually comes down on the side of the serious rather than the sweet silliness.
PUSHING DAISIES has been an unexpected delight from start to finish and if this is the last we see of it (it's a marmite show that won't be to most tastes) then we are glad that we got a chance to enter Ned the piemaker's world.Top
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