[09/24/08 - 12:05 AM]
The Futon's First Look: "Pushing Daisies" (ABC, Season Two)
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.

(Wednesdays at 8:00/7:00c beginning October 1)

The network's description: "Bzzzzzzzzz!: Chuck goes undercover as a "Bee Girl" at a honey-based cosmetics company after their new spokesmodel (guest star Autumn Reeser) is stung to death. She soon discovers that office politics are killer (literally) between the founder (guest star Missi Pyle as Betty Bee) and the new owner (guest star French Stewart as Woolsey Nicholls). Meanwhile, Ned can't stand her growing independence or the fact that she wants to move out of his apartment. In other developments, Lily spirits Olive off to a nunnery so she won't spill Lily's deep, dark secret, on the Second-Season premiere of ABC's critically-acclaimed "Pushing Daisies" nominated for 12 Emmy Awards -- WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network."

"Circus Circus: Ned, Chuck and Emerson search for a missing teen (guest star Hayley McFarland as Nikki Heaps) who's run off to the circus . . . a circus where people keep turning up dead. Meanwhile, overcome with guilt, Lily pays Olive a visit at the nunnery, on "Pushing Daisies," WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 8 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network."

What did they leave out? The "Daisies" gang get a new cast member in the form of Pigby, a well... pig that Olive befriends at the nunnery.

The plot in a nutshell: The narrator (the irreplaceable Jim Dale) brings us up to speed on the one year, 22 weeks and four days since we last saw our heroes - the piemaker (Lee Pace), the true love (Anna Friel), the detective (Chi McBride), the unrequited lover of said piemaker (Kristin Chenoweth) and the mourning aunts of said true love (Ellen Greene, Swoosie Kurtz). "I have a sawed-off shotgun full of secrets," an exasperated Olive exclaims early on in the premiere. And she's right too. From Chuck's true parentage to her visits with Lily and Vivian to her thinking Chuck faked her death, Olive is indeed bursting at the seams with secrets - and those are just the ones she knows about. It's enough to give a girl a nervous breakdown - and after a surprise visit by the no-longer-agoraphobic Lily and Vivian (due to Olive no longer delivering pies), she does just that. Fearing she'll spill the beans about her being Chuck's mother, Lily whisks her away to the nunnery where she gave birth. (Be sure to brace yourself for the greatest "Sound of Music" shout out ever.) Olive's exit inadvertently causes shockwaves in Ned's relationship with Chuck, namely her apartment. Chuck's determined to find out what it feels like to strike it out on her own, albeit across the hall from Ned. The piemaker is not surprisingly underwhelmed by these developments and a rain cloud seems to follow him in the show's opening two episodes.

But there's no time for wallowing - there's cases to solve! "Bzzzzzzzzz!" concerns itself with the murder of Kentucky Fitz (Autumn Reeser), the new face of Betty's Bees honey products, by bees no less. The chief suspect is Betty Bee (Missi Pyle) herself, whom Kentucky was set to replace as the company's newer, younger spokesmodel. Or as new owner Woolsey Nicholls (French Stewart) explains: "She's [Betty's] 38, which rounds up to 40, which rounds up to 50, which rounds up to old." As is custom with the show however, nothing is ever what it seems. What's also custom is how the episode ties into a character's development - in this case Chuck's need to experience life in the big city a little bit on her own. Week two then brings us "Circus Circus" in which a distraught mother (Rachael Harris playing distraught in the way only she can) solicits Emerson to find her missing daughter, something that he can certainly relate to. Her trail leads them to a traveling circus and, well, if you ever wondered what would happen if Ned revived a mime, you'll get your wish. What follows is a laundry list of things that the show puts a stamp on in the way only "Pushing Daisies" can, whether it be dirty limericks, pop up children detective books, diving over countertops or a clown car full of dead bodies. As I'm sure you can guess, "Daisies" hasn't skipped a beat.

What works: I think my favorite thing about "Pushing Daisies" is how on paper the show sounds ridiculous and yet on screen it's magical. How Bryan Fuller and company manage to bridge that gap is something to behold. Without a doubt, there's a voice, attitude, mood and visual sense to the show that's distinctly "Daisies." From its rat-a-tat dialogue (the writers have yet to meet an alliteration or assonance they didn't love) to its almost childlike take on love (this might be the first show to ever tempt me to use the word "swoon" in a review) to its what-you'd-think-was-complex-but-turns-out-to-be-engagingly-simple premise (you've be hard pressed to find a more original idea on television nowadays) to its cotton candy visual palate, there hasn't been a show like this on television... ever. But we've been through this before.

What's new this time around is a surprisingly proactive take on all the show's various secrets - the first two episodes this season don't shy away from what one (or at least I) assumed would take a full season to tackle. In fact there's even some brand new revelations (which I obviously won't spoil here), all of which promise to send the show in even more potential directions. It's also nice to see Olive and Lily get a meatier storyline, even if it means keeping them away from the Pie Hole (for now at least). And have I forgotten to mention how funny this show is? Only on "Pushing Daisies" can you get sarcasm, wit and gallows humor - sometimes all in the same scene. (How Pace and McBride kept a straight face during the aforementioned clown car scene is also something to behold.) All in all, "Pushing Daisies" pushes every button you can think of, including the one that's always the hardest to reach - your imagination.

What doesn't: The fact that my comments don't do this show justice...

The bottom line: ...but I hope they're enough for you to check the show out (if you haven't already).

  [september 2008]  


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