TV Review: 'Pushing Daisies'
Case in point, if I'd given a Rookie of the Year award for last season's best two pilots, I'd have gone with
Into which category will ABC's
Described by producers as a "forensic fairy tale" and narrated by thespian and audio book legend
That's a mouthful, isn't it?
Created by Bryan Fuller and carrying the very obvious fingerprints of earlier Fuller shows like "Wonderfalls" and "Dead Like Me," "Pushing Daisies" looks like nothing else on TV. The pilot was directed by
No, "Pushing Daisies" is also fueled by Fuller's whimsical love for language. It's a pilot that includes musing on the differences between masturbating and masticating, plus another character distinguishing between types of rumination (thoughtful contemplation versus cud chewing). And every time you fear things might get too cutesy, somebody like Chuck comes along and describes a hug as an emotional Heimlich with "Someone puts their arms around you and they give you a squeezed and all of your fear and anxiety come shooting out of your mouth in a big wet wad and you can breath again."
Actually, even with snarky moments of cute-diffusion like that, "Pushing Daisies" still comes across as mighty cutesy, as mighty twee, as more precious than any mainstream network television show should ever be. Viewers will either get instantly sucked into this world of agoraphobic synchronized swimmers, mysterious ceramic monkeys and impossibly star-crossed lovers, or they'll never warm up to them, as they never embraced the talking wax lions of "Wonderfalls" or the post-it note distributing reapers of "Dead Like Me." There's an audience for whom Fuller's warped idealism is resonant and then there's everybody else. I don't judge.
Figuring out how "Pushing Daisies" will prolong its premise on a week-to-week basis (if anybody actually tunes in in the first place) may be the TV season's biggest mystery. Even if the show's creative team is able to figure out a different murder case for Ned and Emerson to investigate every week and a different contrivance to keep Ned and Chuck physically separated, it won't matter if the dialogue loses its back-and-forth intellectual sparkle or the show's production values dwindle even an iota.
ABC has actually done a fine job of promoting "Pushing Daisies" and the network has given the show a timeslot that suggests some confidence. As much as "Pushing Daisies" ought to be a crowd-pleaser, it still feels more like a quickly cancelled cult favorite to me. I can't predict what will happen to the show, but for one episode at least, it's something special.