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Best of TV Costuming 2014 and The Shows I Finally Watched

29 Dec

Welcome to TV Ate My Wardrobe’s “Best of 2014″ costuming series and rather than doing a straightforward countdown we’re going to do a variety of posts that look at which costumes and shows have made a huge impact this year. From items that we want in our own wardrobe to pieces that got everyone talking, we want to look at this year’s TV through the prism of costume.

2014 was the year I finally started watching Game of Thrones and it was the one gaping hole in my “shows that are huge that everyone talks about” list. However, what I want to focus on today is a pair of shows from the “cancelled too soon” brigade that have long been on my “why haven’t I watched these yet?” list (I have a lot of lists).

Pushing Daisies and The Hour are tonally different with one inhabiting a heightened reality with the other being very much grounded in this world; Pushing Daises is heavily influenced in its visuals by the period The Hour is set in with a playful twist on 1950s style. The costume design of both is something I was instantly drawn to and vibrant color is a strong feature on Pushing Daisies with both sets and wardrobe dripping in Technicolor. This isn’t to say The Hour is a dreary palette of greys and beige as Marnie’s sweet pastel frocks and Bel’s block color suits dismiss this notion.

Bel the hour Marnie The HourWhen you come to a show late and one that has been recommended countless times there is a worry it won’t live up to expectation and you just won’t get it. Fear not as the only reaction I had to these two shows was devastation there isn’t more than two seasons of each and joy to finally see what everyone has been raving about. There is an unearned feeling of sadness that comes from watching something which had an early cancellation as I don’t necessarily believe I have the same right to be angry that there is no more when I didn’t watch it when it aired. Instead I will be both mad at myself for not getting to it when it was originally on and still lament this premature end.

It is easy to romanticize the 1950s thanks to the styling; the costuming of The Hour and the influence of this period on Pushing Daisies has me clamoring for pretty frocks with nipped in waists. And hats. So many great lady hats in both shows.* There is also a lot of bad things about this post-war period and The Hour covers various panics from this period including the spy and nuclear war variety. Racism and sexism are prevalent throughout and homophobia extends to being criminally prosecuted if you are caught in a homosexual act. So while I love 50s fashion and costume designer Suzanne Cave did an excellent job of recreating this period, it is good to be reminded of the horror beyond the hooped skirts.

*Still dreaming of the day I get a Janet Snakehole pillbox hat

Chuck Pushing DaisiesDrawing comparisons between the two aside from finally watching them both this year and a shared 50s style isn’t as hard as you may think when it comes to discussing FEELINGS. Yep I’m talking about shipping and the obstacles for the main couples at play. Pushing Daisies takes the central pairing and gets them together in the first episode; this is no will they/won’t they. Instead they face an entirely different challenge as they can say exactly how they feel, but can’t physically touch each other without a barrier between them. Ah the perils of bringing people back to life with one touch and killing them all over again with another one. The Hour is a more traditional unrequited love deal as Freddie’s love for Bel is apparent from episode 1 and she takes a little longer to get there.

But hey look how great they look at the Christmas party from season 2 and this amazing shade of blue on Bel:

Bel and Freddie S2Unlike The Hour which is actually set in the 1950s, Pushing Daisies takes its costuming cues from a variety of periods with Chuck’s attire leaning towards a hippie vibe at points. Basically anything from the mid portion of the twentieth century and it takes on the visual richness you would expect from the mind of Bryan Fuller.

And look how adorable they are:

Pushing Daisies Chuck and NedSometimes once is enough but another thing these shows share is they are now part of my not so long list of DVDs I like to stick on at bedtime and fall asleep to. The sleep part sounds like a disservice, however it reveals how much comfort they bring and I’m always glad to add something to my rotation because otherwise my Rear Window DVD is going to get burnt out.

Now to figure out what to add to the 2015 rewind project. All suggestions welcome. Otherwise I will start my much thought over Gossip Girl rewatch and I’m not sure I am ready for that.

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Fall Rewind: Pushing Daisies

2 Sep

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.

Pushing Daisies promoMy 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

Pushing Daisies DigbyThe 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

Pushing Daisies PieNed’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

Pushing Daisies KissChildhood 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

Pushing Daisies the auntsThe 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

Chuck Pushing DaisiesChuck is meant to be dead so there’s a whole host of hats, sunglasses and headscarves employed to conceal her true identity and there’s a strong ’50s influence to her costume design.

Pushing Daisies Chuck's disguiseFrom bold red frocks, cute trench coats to floral patterns; Chuck’s attire is super feminine with full skirts, nipped in waists and the odd cleav enhancing neckline.

6). Ned’s Henley

Pushing Daisies NedWhile 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

Pushing Daisies RaulDr.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

Pushing Daisies The Pie HolePlaying 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.

 

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