In the small gap before the onslaught of every show ever returning and a new roster of soon to be canceled/revered offerings (most likely the former) it seemed like a good idea to start something old, but new to me. Seasons 1 and 2 of Pushing Daisies have been sitting on the ever growing bedroom DVD pile (I should say piles as it’s currently topping 3 stacks) and so the time has come to fill that Hannibal hole with more Bryan Fuller infused whimsy.
My journey through Bryan Fuller’s oeuvre has taken a non-chronological direction starting with Hannibal when it premiered last year followed by Wonderfalls last summer, the Dead Like Me pilot a few months ago and now Pushing Daisies. The preoccupation with death and explorations of our mortality are a Fuller signature; he tells these kinds of stories in an unexpected and weirdly delightful manner. Okay the operatic death tableaus of Hannibal don’t necessarily fall into the delightful camp, but they are projected using a nightmare lens of wonder through the actions of Hannibal and the other killers on this show. From what I have seen in these first three episodes Hannibal and Pushing Daisies are at the opposite ends of the same spectrum as the protagonist deals with the way they can manipulate events.
As with Will Graham and Wonderfalls’ Jaye Tyler, Ned the Pie Maker is trapped by circumstance; Will’s empathy disorder is his crutch and curse, for Jaye her ennui coupled with her new ‘gift’ to right wrongs through the vague advice from inanimate objects sets her down a path of reluctantly helping other people. Like Will and Jaye, Ned’s ability comes with a whole host of caveats and when you bring someone back to life there are always loopholes and drawbacks (or so TV/movies/books have taught me).
Here’s a list of quick observations of why Pushing Daisies has pulled me in:
1). There is a Winston
The pilot opens with the death of Ned’s dog Digby, but wait this is Bryan Fuller and he’s not going to kill a dog (right?! You promised me Bryan that none of Will’s dogs are getting it next season). Ned revives his pet with his magic touch and Digby is still here in the present, the only thing is that Ned can’t touch him otherwise he will die all over again. He still gets stroked, just in an unconventional manner.
2). Pies and Cheese
Ned’s business is pies. Pies would be in my top 5 foods. Chuck’s aunts love cheese (Chuck called the refrigerator a cheese box until she was 17). Cheese would be in my top 5 foods. This show makes me hungry for cheese infused pie crusts.
3). A Very Different Romance
Childhood sweethearts who shared their first kiss with the other. This isn’t so much “will they/won’t they” as “how can they?” If Ned touches Chuck she will be dead all over again, solutions to the lack of contact include separate beds, kissing through different forms of plastic like the body bags above (sounds/looks way creepier than it is) and touching hands with a wall occupying the space between. I am looking forward to seeing what inventive methods they will discover as way to experience closeness without physical contact.
4). The Color Palette
The skies are a little bluer, the yellows look like sunflowers and reds leap out of the screen. While it might sound like the screen has been dipped in a box of Crayola crayons, the bold and stylized color palette doesn’t feature throughout. In some scenes like the one above with Chuck’s aunts color draws the two figures out of their crowded living room (along with the stuffed peacock as the background centerpiece). As with Hannibal, color is saturated and highlighted to draw attention to a specific aspect of a scene and it’s one of the many reasons why Bryan Fuller shows are so visually arresting. Color also acts as way to show the variety of genre influences from noir to screwball comedies as Fuller plays with these aspects through the production design.
5). Chuck’s ’50s Inspired Costuming
6). Ned’s Henley
While the show itself is ultra colorful, Ned’s costume palette is rather muted as he alternates between black tees, suits (for funeral homes) and this Henley. All of which are timeless pieces that reveal Ned’s closed off nature. Plus Lee Pace looks really good in all of these things.
7). Spot the Fuller Regular
Dr.Chilton! It’s Raúl Esparza playing the espresso machine fixing Alfredo. Hoping he gets to share a song and dance number with Kristin Chenoweth – the musical interlude in the second episode is fantastic. I am looking forward to what other Bryan Fuller show regulars will pop up and I will take this moment to once again suggest Lee Pace for either Francis Dolarhyde or Alana Bloom’s psychiatrist (if she survives she’s going to need one) on the next season of Hannibal.
8). The Pie Hole
Playing with words and double meanings (some with more eyebrow raising definitions) have featured throughout the first three episodes – the beaver tee for a start – and my favorite so far is the name of Ned’s business. Plus the pie top roof is genius. Pushing Daisies is genre bending and part of this is the retro styling from the narration to the costuming. It’s wonderfully old fashioned with an element of innocence and in a way feels like an extended Twilight Zone premise. It goes way beyond this and like the other Bryan Fuller shows I have discussed there is something very special about the way it defies time and genre.
I know what I’m going to be doing until the new TV season starts and with only 22 episodes (*sob*) this is a more than doable TV Rewind project.