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Pushing Daisies: Gone from TV, But Arriving on DVD
July 23, 2009  | By David Bianculli
 
pushing-daisies-olive.jpgThe facts were these:

Pushing Daisies premiered on ABC in October 2007. I instantly hailed it as the best new series of the year, viewers embraced it, and all was well. Then, a month later, came the writers' strike, and the series never recovered. Once ABC burned through the programs already filmed, the network held off showing new episodes until the fall of 2008, by which time the series had lost its momentum.

But now, on DVD, comes the complete 13-episode second season of Pushing Daisies, to remind us, all over again, what a bold, brilliant, beautiful series it was...

Pushing-Daisies-window.jpg

Created by Bryan Fuller, and telling of a piemaker with the ability to raise the dead, it's the kind of show that comes around only about once a decade -- a show with such a distinctive look and tone, with everything from its visual flair and its musical soundtrack to its heightened dialogue and outrageous plots, that it stands apart from everything around it. Twin Peaks was like that. So were Due South and Northern Exposure.

And Pushing Daisies: The Complete Second Season, released this week by Warner Home Video, displays in almost every frame why this ABC series was The One That Got Away. More than that, it was The One Just Hitting Its Full Stride -- or, to put it another way, The One That Deserved a Few More Years.

pushing-daisies-fried-egg.jpg

The Extras in this DVD set, which you can buy by clicking HERE (or the Blu-Ray by clicking HERE, show how much care went into this series. The sets. The scored music. The computer-generated effects. The acting and scripts. The absurdly imaginative murders and crime scenes.

And the 13 shows... what a baker's dozen (how appropriate) of tasty treats. Guest stars are served up without fanfare, each bringing his or her peculiarly tasty flavors: Fred Willard, Richard Benjamin, George Segal, Wendie Malick, David Arquette and Stephen Root. There are nasty Norwegians and sinister synchronized swimmers, buzzing beekeepers and ghoulish graverobbers.

pushing-daisies-chuck.jpg

And the regular cast: Jim Dale Lee Pace and Anna Friel (pictured) star as Ned and Chuck. Ned can revive the dead with a single touch, and revives Chuck, his former childhood sweetheart -- but can't touch her again, or she'll die forever. Chi McBride is Emerson, the private eye who uses Ned's gifts to solve crimes; Kristin Chenoweth (pictured at top) is Olive, who has an unrequited love for Ned and works in his pie shop; and Swoosie Kurtz and Ellen Greene play Chuck's eccentric aunts -- one of whom actually is her mother.

pushing-daisies-rats-ass.jpg

Jim Dale narrates Pushing Daisies in true storybook style, and always, at some point, advances the narrative by saying, "The facts were these..." The visuals will make you laugh -- but so will the verbals. When Emerson (pictured) is invited to the circus, for example, he pats the pockets of his jacket and says, "Where did I put that rat's ass I could give?" Still makes me laugh.

What makes me sad, though, is that ABC canceled this series before Fuller and company got to mount their planned musical episode (imagine that, with Broadway musical vets Chenoweth and Greene already on board) -- and before what surely, given Ned's powers and their desire to finally kiss, would have been one of the best, most poetic series finales in history.

DVD, though, gives us a chance to fully appreciate Pushing Daisies -- which, in the end (and especally AT the end), is more than ABC ever did.

 

5 Comments

 

Karen said:

Jim Dale as Ned??? Uh, no... (Loved everything about the show, loved Dale, but loved Lee Pace as Ned especially.)
(Yikes! Another of my brain-fever, too-early mistakes. Forgive me. -- David B.)

Comment posted on July 23, 2009 12:19 PM


Neil said:

Oops! Big typo! It's Lee Pace who plays Ned, not Jim Dale. (Though you also identify Dale, correctly, as the narrator in the next graph.)

Other than that, could not agree with you more about Pushing Daisies. One of the very few new "appointment TV" shows I've encountered in the last few years. What a shame ABC couldn't handle it with respect and patience. What a shame no one else (Hello? AMC? TV Land? Anybody home?) could adopt this promising orphan.

(Nice of you to call it a typo -- but when you mistype a dozen or so letters in a row, it's more like a flat-out error. Sigh. Since corrected. Sorry. -- David B.)

Comment posted on July 23, 2009 12:32 PM


Noelle said:

I just loved this show. It broke my heart to see it canceled. It was charming and funny and smart. I already have season one on DVD. When you watch an episode again you spot new things or catch puns you may have missed the first time you watched it.

RIP, Pushing Daisies

Comment posted on July 23, 2009 12:51 PM


Sarah said:

Ah, Pushing Daisies, you will be missed. I too loved the story, the acting and espcially the whole look.

First the story it- was fun and sweet.And the characters are what made it work. Ned of all things a pie maker who can bring the dead back to life. I loved Olive and Emerson in most series they would just be the supporting cast but in this the were so much more. The untouchable love story in the center of all the crazy, filled with great special effects crime solving(how did they come up with all of those different ways to die and the victim still in their death position) was just so good.

The amazing sets are something that I don't think could ever be re-done. The colors the costumes every week a new location (which we saw again at the very end)

I have it on my DVD wish list and can't wait to see it again.

PS Thanks for having Torchwood in your Best Bets everyday. It is my favorite series on TV at this time and if you think about it there's just a little bit of Pushing Daisies in it.

Comment posted on July 23, 2009 12:52 PM


Shauna said:

What?! There was a musical episode in the works?! Now that just makes the cancellation all that more heartbreaking. It would've certainly been incredible!

(Yeah: I moderated a couple of panels last year, with Bryan Fuller and director Barry Sonnenfeld, and they were all juiced about planning an all-musical episode for the second half of season two. Sadly, there never was a second half of season two...-- David B.)

Comment posted on July 23, 2009 2:48 PM
 
 
 
 
 
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