Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Dishing the Delight of PUSHING DAISIES

Note: Wrote this last weekend, hit "save", &forgot to publish. Oops.

My fave--absolute total fave--of the new crop of shows that debuted this season is PUSHING DAISIES. It's a fantasy, so, no wonder I gave it a look-see.

Better than the new episodes of HEROES (yawn). Better than LIFE. (which I also like for the cool main character).

PUSHING DAISIES has terrific snappy dialogue, and I'm a sucker for snappy dialogue. It's what made Joss Whedon's television shows have that special sparkle. The dialogue carries the weight of characterization smartly. The overall show has dark humor mingled with bright bits of innocence and good nature and whimsy. And superb costume and art direction. Chuck's retro-girly outfits make me want to be young and slim and work those dresses!

There's an irrepressible fairy tale vibe in the show, even though it's set in a contemporary city. Even the urban pie shop has a sort of "hobbit house" or "magic cottage" look and appeal. (see the pic?) The eccentric characters reinforce that atmosphere, and each show is like a mini-quest. Besides the gifted Pie-Maker, the resurrected damsel, the unsentimental sidekick, there's a pair of agoraphobic aunts who used to be "mermaids", one of whom is played by the bedazzler-accented eyepatch-wearing Swoosie Kurtz. Chi McBride is utterly wonderful as the grumpy P.I. partner. And Kristen Chenoweth is a small bundle of heartbroken determination as Olive, the sometimes singing, always snooping character dealing weekly with unrequited love for The Pie-Maker character.

And those pies! Oh, man. It's dangerous for dieters to see those thick, fruit-stuffed, yummy looking pies! Get ready for cravings.

Even the direction rocks!

Anyway, what's it about, you ask?

The premise: The Pie-Maker discovers as a boy that he can bring the dead back to life with one touch. However, if he doesn't touch the resurrected person a second time within a minute--a touch which makes the death permanent--another person dies to balance the scales. The Pie-Maker resurrects his long-lost first love, Chuck, in the first episode, and the sexual tension that ensues from their being unable to touch is both humorous and touching. Oh, and he resurrected his childhood pooch, too, so he can't touch him, either.

He helps his partner, a PI who knows his secret, played by Chi, solve murder cases by bringing the dead back to life and, well, ASKING them what happened. Every episode has one of these reviving moments, and they tend to be hilarious. The humor stems in part from the look of the deceased, say, a guy with tire tracks on his face, or from the reaction of the deceased--"Is this heaven? But I'm Buddhist!"--or the way characterization is used (brilliantly) in the interrogation. Chuck tends to be touchy-feely, asking about last words, any message they want to send to loved ones, etc. The Pie-Maker worries about those seconds counting down because it means someone else will die. The PI, Emerson, worries HE will be the one who dies and about getting the information that will lead to a reward. The three--Chuck, Pie-Maker, and Emerson--make for wonderful conflict and zingy dialogue whenever they're off investigating together. Good, good stuff.

It's delightful fantasy with romance and mystery. A triple slam for me.

If you liked the films BIG FISH and AMELIE, with their auras of magic and true love, with their colorful sets, with the way with energy and boyish/girlish good will, then this show will knock your socks off.

My blogging palHeather (alias Elfin Queen Blue-Bearer) admits she's inspired by the show. It makes me want to write better dialogue and use more humor. Really.

If you haven't caught it (I've missed parts of one and all of this week's episodes due to being pooped and zonking out), there's a cool comics recap of the first three shows: Pie-Lette, Dummy, and Pigeon. Of course, you can just watch some of the FULL episodes at the ABC site. I'm going there to catch the two I missed.

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