Pushing Daisies, Season Two (2009)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Introduction to this series came after reliable comments and helpful info on Christian sites. I was surprised to learn that despite a premise that could be "questionable," this didn’t abuse or poke fun at Christianity. Much to my delight this series became an instant favorite, and then was unceremoniously cancelled, which is a shame. What secrets does season two unveil?

Since Lily Charles (Swoosie Krutz) dropped the bomb that she is Charlotte’s mother instead of her aunt, Olive (Kristin Chenoweth) has been harboring one too many secrets. Banned from Lily and sister Vivian’s home lest she spill the beans to Vivian (Ellen Greene), Olive remains in her lonely existence working at her would-be-true-love’s Pie Hole Cafe. Ned (Lee Pace) is the master pie-maker, and has a rather unusual ability; he can wake the dead. Still feeling guilty when as a child (Field Cate), he unintentionally killed not only his mother, but also his sweetheart’s father... Now Charlotte or “Chuck” (Anna Friel) is all grown up and unaware of the great secret Olive holds, agrees to help PI Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) by going undercover at Betty’s Bees, a cosmetic company – much to the dismay of Ned who only wants to see Chuck safe. Emotions may be terse, but the gang soon realizes they have bigger bees to deal with when they piece together more clues instrumental to their case. Could Betty (Missi Pyle) have possibly murdered the girl she looked on as a sister or did something go wrong with a hush-hush merger?

A stumbling block this season was the content, which is much more prevalent where the prior season was cleaner. Since Ned cannot psychically touch Chuck, they resort to other methods of showing affection, which for the most part is sweet (like kissing though saran wrap), but occasionally the dialogue can get a bit risqué. Still... I absolutely love this show! It’s as enchanting a fairy-tale as anything I’ve seen. When ABC announced its cancellation, I was disappointed but anxious to see how creators would manage concluding all the intertwining stories. There were so many "mysteries" to be solved. The teleplays are pure brilliance – there is just no “ifs” or “buts” about it. To look at promotional material implies a fun forty-five minutes at the very least, but who would expect brilliance?

Each episode is unique and every one contributes something to the many layers of the show. The premise itself  is peculiar, but add in the fantastically quirky sets and costumes, an airy score plus wonderful characters and you have a recipe for a wonderful slice of confectionery delights. This show really relies on subtly to “become” Pushing Daisies for the two short seasons it aired. For instance, I really didn’t notice the sets initially however they create an even dreamier atmosphere than the scripts. Given that this show is set in the 21st century it might seem like writers could regard Ned’s “gift” as “real” but instead, that is never implied (although “Window Dressed to Kill” does encourage us to embrace “super” powers). Perhaps some of you would be disturbed by the fact that Ned is able to wake the dead, but Christianity is never brought into it neither being credited nor mocked as the reason. Morally if you just can’t get past that, this series is probably best left on the shelf.

Creator Byan Fuller obviously has a wonderfully imaginative mind if this is proof. Pushing Daisies is as witty as it is it is lovely – and I cannot even begin to recount the genius of the show. There are inventive hints of mystery that keep viewers clamoring for oh-so-much more. Where season one generally completed a story, this series tends to leave you hanging – so much in fact that one wants to immediately place the next disc into the player. Seeing Ned and Chuck’s fathers enter the dynamics was interesting. It surprised me to discover how little I thought of Mr. Charles while never given the opportunity either way in regards to Ned’s father. Casting was perfect. I’ve liked Lee ever since a prior starring role. His Ned is one of my all-time favorite TV characters; there’s something about him that’s endearing, and his nervous ramblings make him easily liked, not to mention the sweet chemistry between he and leading lady Anna Friel. Because the romance isn’t psychical the chemistry is that much brighter (although the fact that the leading lady would die if it was may have something to do with that *grin*). 

“The Legend of Merle McQuoddy” is a priceless episode involving Olive and Emerson investigating – one of the more hilarious (and touching) episodes, and the banter is so amusing between these two. Other memorable episodes are “Bzzzzzzzz!” “Dim Some, Lose Some” (which finds Emerson the victim of cupid’s arrow), “Oh, Oh, Oh….it’s Magic” and “Comfort Food.” Characters are better examined than the former, which makes for interesting TV. Still, wacky is how best to describe this series; from Olive’s occasional bursts into song to an oftentimes annoying narrator, things remain colorful. The final episode could have  been sad in thinking Ned was about to let the best thing in his life go (yes, I like his and Charlotte’s romance that much) having finally recognized his selfish motivations in restricting Chuck’s exposure to her family. If this is all there will ever be to a beloved series the conclusion is tolerable but leaves many questions unanswered (did relationships stay intact?). We were cheated out of a full season previously due to the writers’ strike so the promise of a full season was exciting only we were crushed by its cancellation, and that hardly seems fair. The finale brings a sense of regret that this wasn’t given more time to grow, but rumors have suggested that a movie could be in the works – I’m first in line for another slice of this sweet treat if that pans out.
(Pushing Daisies is rated TV14 which equals a PG13 MPAA rating. Chuck appears in Ned’s dream naked beneath a blanket [nothing is shown]. Various affairs are hinted at, one episode implies adult material [“Robbing Hood”]. Mild innuendoes suggest homosexuality. Clothing is often immodest. Any violence is more “comical” than brutal since most of the victims die in unusual ways; some have bashed in faces, another her legs cut off; a body is twisted completely all around; a sword through the chest, another man is about to be decapitated with a chain saw. Profanity is scattered throughout including numerous uses of bit*h and references to both male and female anatomy. One questionable episode was “Freescorts” which implies a service-for-hire that allows the renter to dictate a person to become whatever they want.)


  1. I adored this show, absolutely loved it! And I was so so sad it was canceled. Great reviews!

  2. You and me both, Ruth! I was SO looking forward to the full season run during the 2nd season, and alas! ABC had the NERVE to cancel this darling show - what was wrong with them - I mean, really!?

    If there was ever a movie, I'd be thrilled...

  3. The only thing that makes me nervous about a film is that somehow it would wreck the charm of the show...but I am of course open to the idea. :)

  4. I wouldn't disagree with that, Ruth...

    Now, the chances of another network picking up the show is zero percent, so I think the only way fans would be allowed to re-visit these beloved characters would be through the big-screen. I "liked" the ending, but I also felt like the show didn't fully realize its potential because its chances were cut short. =(

    How sad...


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