Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The facts are these

Yesterday was the most-anticipated day of my TV season, the day when Pushing Daisies finally came back. If you think I hadn't been waiting, not very patiently, since December--or was it late November?--for my favorite new show to return, we clearly don't know each other that well. Because, really, who doesn't love a sweetly morbid mystery show about waking the dead and making pies?

If you know what I'm talking about--and I know there are at least a couple of converts reading--you're probably psyched. If not, you have homework. Check it out: Wednesdays, 8 p.m., ABC (or Thursdays and ever after on; their video streaming is excellent, unlike a certain peacock-affiliated network I could name). Otherwise I may simply never stop talking about it, and then you won't want to read anymore, and then where will we be?

If you need a primer to the rules and canon of the show, I've gushed about them (with handy video!) here. If you just need a little encouragement, here are some reasons I love Pushing Daisies, and perhaps you should, too:

It looks amazing.

("Do you ever feel like all the oxygen's left the room?")

I would never watch a show on the basis of looks alone--I need personality, a sense of humor, and long walks on the beach--but the creativity and elaborateness of the visuals on Pushing Daisies consistently sweep me off my feet. It's vibrant; it's colorful; it's symbolic. And if it's an endless parade of decorative eye-patches you seek, or mermaid-shaped Burberry luggage for a pair of synchronized swimmers, the art direction, set dressing, and costuming here won't let you down.

It uses acrobatic language.

There are lots of motor-mouthed shows out there, and I pretty much like them all, but I can't think of another show that takes quite this much joy in what my college professors would call "formal experimentation": rhyme, alliteration, repetition, symmetry, onomatopoeia, simile, metaphor. This show trips off the tongue.

It's creatively romantic.

Meet Ned and his alive-again girlfriend, Chuck. They can't touch without consequences both fatal (for her) and heartbreaking (for him). Couldn't they simply wear gloves? Probably, but where's the fun in that?

It has the morgue dude.

He doesn't have a name or a backstory, but he had me at "You got some kind of shifty goin' on?"

It has Emerson Cod and Olive Snook.

He's a sassy P.I. who knits when he's nervous (he finds the stockinette stitch especially relaxing) and likes counting his money in the bubble bath. She's a former jockey who serves pie, insists on chit-chat, and sings sad songs in the Pie Hole at night. Together, they are hilarious and magical.

It's like nothing else.

This is the crux of Pushing Daisies: it borrows from a million places and is, in the end, nothing like any of them, or like anything else you've seen. Take a little bit of Roald Dahl, a little bit of Amelie, a little bit of Alice Hoffman, a little bit of your favorite pop-up book, a little bit of Alfred Hitchcock. Mix them up, make something happier and sadder and more gorgeous and more intensely metaphorical than you really thought you could. And, well, there you go.

P.S. The season-two premiere was awesome. How many bee puns--verbal and visual--can one writing staff squeeze into a 42-minute show? OH WOW SO MANY. I loved it.


Xerxes said...

I really found Olive doing the singing nun bit funny!

Liz said...

I don't totally get where they're going with the convent storyline, but the Sound of Music references are cracking me up, including the use of the word "flibbertigibbet."

(Hee, now that I'm thinking about it, I also loved the whole "porter coming for my things"/"poor coming for my things" scene. They took her couch cushions.)

Oh, Olive Snook. You're so cool.