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Plastic Wrap Kisses: Ned and Chuck Get Smoochy on "Pushing Daisies"

Wednesday nights have become sheer Televisionary bliss, in every sense of the word now that ABC's deliriously delicious Pushing Daisies has come along. The only thing that would make it even better? A piece of the Pie Maker's sinfully sweet pies.

Last night's installment of Pushing Daisies ("The Fun in Funeral")--written by series creator Bryan Fuller--recaptured the magic of the original pilot episode. Personally, I'm not bothered by Jim Dale's tongue-in-cheek narration like some other reviewers. To me, it adds another dimension to the story and places it in a sort of meta-context, as though the action of the story is being further distanced from reality and additionally heightened by dint of the fact that the story is, well, self-aware that it's being told as a narrative. Plus, I just love Dale's velvety voice.

Ned. I'm glad that the writers have continued to place Ned in a moral quandary about his revival of Chuck and, specifically, its unintentional side-effect: the murder (ahem, involuntary manslaughter) of funeral director Lawrence Schatz, thanks to that pesky proximity thing whenever Ned uses his ability for too long. It would have been too simple to just bring Chuck back to life, engage in plastic wrap kisses (aw!) whenever possible, and not tell her that her new life is only possible at the expense of someone else's. Think of it as a cosmic see-saw: when one side goes up, the other has to come down. I loved the scene of Young Ned attempting to define the limitations of his newfound ability with a series of experiments involving insects, following the frog/bird debacle of last week's episode. Present-day Ned is painfully aware of the one-minute rule and it was only a matter of time before Chuck got suspicious about that. Still, while Ned unburdened himself about Chuck's resurrection, he still hasn't told her about his role in her father's death... but smart cookie Chuck is bound to figure that out sooner rather than later.

Chuck. I'm glad that Chuck does feel slightly guilty about her being alive again, especially since it came at the cost of someone else's life, even if that someone else was more than a bit of a creep. Which might be why I love Chuck so darn much; she's got a strong moral center and resolve, even in the face of the inexplicable. (If your heart didn't melt at the sight of the plastic wrap kiss, you are far colder an individual than I imagined.) What other show would have its female lead lovingly bake holistic anti-depressants into pies (complete with gruyere in the crust) and have them delivered to her shut-in aunts, who have canceled their comeback tour on account of their niece's non-death? No one, I tell you! Plus, her altruism is wholly rewarding in the age of reality television; re-gifting the items stolen from now-dead loved ones was a wonderful touch. (I also loved the fact that Ned's grey and orange bathrobe subtly matched the presents' wrapping paper.)

The scene in the funeral home where Chuck and Ned attempted to open the coffin wherein the body of dead funeral director Schatz ranted and raved... before time ran out and someone else died, was a nifty bit of slapstick. Also memorable: the scene where Ned, her Prince Charming, came to her rescue (sort of), complete with red cloak and shiny, shiny sword, although Chuck did have something to do with the resolution of that swordfight ("Kick, Pooh, kick!"). And I adore the way that Chuck will, in death, forever be known as "lonely tourist Charlotte Charles," famous only for the way she died.

Emerson. LOVED the way he bolted from the funeral home when Schatz was trapped in the coffin and how he decided to slim down after getting wedged in the basement window of the building a la Winnie the Pooh. I also really liked the way that he took the Schatz murder case not for the money (though that's an added benefit) but so no one else could investigate the funeral director's murder and discover Ned's involvement. Is Emerson just protecting his investment or does he actually care for the Pie Maker? I'm thinking it's the latter but, knowing Emerson, he's not likely to admit that.

Olive. Poor, lovelorn Olive. She really doesn't have a chance at capturing Ned's heart with Chuck in the frame. I love her hardboiled dialogue with Emerson and the fact that, though she might ask for the truth, all she wants is people to tell her what she wants to hear. So much so in fact that she fails to notice the possibility of love in traveling homeopathic remedies salesman Alfredo Aldarisio (Raul Esparza, in a role originally intended for Paul Reubens), who fixes the broken espresso machine just because Olive mentioned it was pretty but unused. Sigh. I loved the fact that it's a terrified Olive who delivers Chuck's remedy-laden pie to Darling Mermaid Darlings Vivian and Lily all the way out in Coeur d' Coeurs, just because she didn't want to disappoint someone expecting a Pie Maker pie. (I loved the way she got terrified by everything from a squawking bird to the doorbell when she arrived at the aunts' house.) Now that Olive believes she has some dirt on romantic rival Chuck--whom she believes faked her own death for some unknown reason--will she use it against her to win Ned's love? Or will she push this knowledge deeper inside her, aided by several bites of pie? That remains to be seen but for now this round goes to Olive...

Next week on Pushing Daisies ("Pigeon"): Chuck, Ned, and Emerson investigate the crash of a plane into an apartment building and whether the pilot of said craft was attempting suicide; Chuck finds herself drawn to the sole survivor of the crash; Olive turns to Vivian and Lily for help when she discovers a wounded messenger pigeon.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Could I love this show even more? Did I and my fellow Daisy, E. swoon at Hero-Ned?
yes yes!!

Is it Wednesday again yet?
greebs said…
Yes, this show is fantastic. Really well-done, very smart...and I agree that Kristen Chenoweth, who I usually find way too pixie-ish Republican for my taste, is pitch-perfect here...both because its perfectly clear why Ned doesn't want her, but why others would.

This and Reaper are my two favorite new shows, with Chuck and Bionic Woman distant runners-up (even though I think Chuck is pretty good.)
Anonymous said…
Wait - when did Paul Reubens fall out? I hope he will be back as something else, but I LOVE Raul Esparza, and was thrilled to see his name in the guest credits. Now, if we could only get an Esparza/Chenowith duet in the future....

I LOVE this show!!
Vance said…
Paul Reuben was given ANOTHER re-occuring role apparently to appear later, partly due to scheduling conflicts. That being said, I think this role was a great way to introduce Raul Esparza to America.

Seriously. Kick Pooh Kick. I watched it on Tuesday (in Canada) and again last night and I want to watch it YET AGAIN (thank goodness I still recorded it as backup)!
I'm so happy to see that this show has lost none of its charm or wit and the only negative thing I can say about it is that it makes me crave pie every time I watch it!
Anonymous said…
OK I'm way behind, had a busy week, so talking to a vacuum - I was much relieved by this episode, a return to form after the weak second episode. Probably related to being written by the series creator, and also because the storyline was very much on the spine - week two was effectively a diversion that didn't advance the story or characters very much.

That's my worry for the show as a whole. On something like Battlestar Galactica, the off-spine episodes really stick out, often interesting in their own right but very much have the feeling of padding out the season. Will Pushing Daisies have a strong enough story arc that enough episodes can be on-spine as to be unmissable? You could have skipped week two and not missed anything (OK, apart from some nice set pieces like Olive's singing routine). Thinking about it later it seemed to me that the storyline in that episode had less depth and was less convincing than a Scooby Doo cartoon.

I think if you are going to have an all-out whimsical show like this, there has to be an element that is grounded, believable. Otherwise it effectively a high-risk strategy: week to week it can either be an outstanding hit - or miss badly.

This week's show was right on the nose, I particularly liked the dialogue which really fizzed along. Just my opinion but I think the show is too young to withstand too many off-spine episodes yet unless they really zing.

I'm getting used to the narration - it does help that he has such a nice voice.

Did I mention how much I like Anna Friel?
Unknown said…
The narration is okay (unlike Desperate Housewives) despite the unnecessarily precise time measurements, and it even "clicks" on occasion and provides an extra fun juxtaposition.

I was very glad they pulled the Pooh reference, especially after I exclaimed "Just like Pooh!" as he got stuck in the window.

greebs: My wife and I love Reaper and Chuck. Ray Wise is awesome!

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