Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Fall ‘07 Season TV Blitz, Day 8: Pushing Daisies

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on October 5, 2007

Reaper–Still Sucks

Pushing Daisies

(Wednesday Night, 8-9 PM, ABC)

Starring: Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride, Swoozie Kurtz, Ellen Green, Kristin Chenoweth

Premise: Ned (Pace) starts the story as a young boy with an extraordinary ability: to bring the dead back to life with one touch. Natch, catches are abound–60 seconds after Ned resurrects someone, another random person dies, and the only way to stop that is for Ned to touch the person or animal a second time, which kills them again–something unbeknownedst to Ned, who after reanimating his mother, puts her right back down with a goodnight kiss. Now adult, Ned has both a pie store (his mother was baking when she died) and a business venture using his unique trade–partnered with Emerson Cod (McBride) to bring the dead back long enough to ask who killed them, then to track down the murderer and collect the reward money. Things get complicated, though, when Ned’s ex-childhood sweetheart Charlotte “Chuck” Charles (Friel) turns up dead, and Ned can’t bring himself to send her back in time…

Thoughts: I feel like there are two kinds of people on the planet: Wes Anderson people, and Tim Burton people. The two directors are far more similar than you’d think–both essentially tell whimsical, precious tales of angst with an attention to visual detail and a reliance on using the same actors in several of their movies. It’s just the general tone of the movies that are so different–Anderson’s are witty, sophisticated and often slightly cynical, while Burton’s are magical, simple, and hopelessly naive. There are probably plenty of cinephiles that like both, but when forced to choose between The Royal Tenenbaums and Big Fish, I feel most people would probably be able to answer pretty easily.

If you’re a Tim Burton person, get ready for your new favorite show of ’07-’08. Probably the most acclaimed series of the new season–scoring an 86 on MetaCritic, which is about as high as non-The Wire TV is likely to rate–the show smacks of Burtonness, from the archaic, slightly surreal set design to the ridiculously cheesy narration to the over-exaggerated supporting characters. And as I’m sure you’ve guessed, I’m very much a Wes Anderson man, so these Burtonian touches I find more than a little bit grating. (FTR–I do like Burton a whole lot, but only inversely proportional to how precious his movies are).

Luckily for me and all the rest of us Anderson dudes, underneath all the frou-frou, Pushing Daisies is actually a damn solid show. The premise is unsurprisingly ridiculous, but once they get the exposition out of the way, it doesn’t really matter, mostly because the two leads (Pace and Friel) have some of the best chemistry that can be seen on the small screen at the moment–in-love-since-we-were-kids-love takes the deepest rapport to portray, so it’s extremely impressive to see a couple that can pull it off this well. It’s compounded, of course, by the slightly ingenious plot device that the two will most likely never be able to touch, forcing Pace and Friel to keep the emotion in their faces. It’s charming, heart-warming stuff, the kind of simple romance very rarely seen on TV these (or maybe any?) days. Chi McBride too! Bout fucking time.

Hit Potential?: Unanimous critical acclaim + death + Burton-esque visuals = CULT JACKPOT. Should be enough to sustain it through what might be something of a rocky first season, since I doubt too many Private Practice watchers are gonna care enough to tune in for this as a lead-in.

Worth Watching?: For now, yeah. I worry about the show’s future a bit, just because there aren’t that many through threads to expand on yet, and corpse-of-the-week type episodes might get tiresome kind of soon. Definitely worth digging into for the time being, though–just don’t let that awful narration get to you too much.

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One Response to “Fall ‘07 Season TV Blitz, Day 8: Pushing Daisies”

  1. […] …Blogged about at Fall ‘07 Season TV Blitz, Day 8: Pushing Daisies – intensities in ten suburbs, […]

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