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"Truth Isn't Like Puppies": A Bittersweet "Pushing Daisies"

Is it just me or does ABC's deliriously deliciously drama Pushing Daisies have the best guest stars this side of 30 Rock?

Last night's episode of Pushing Daisies ("Bitter Sweets") was no exception, giving us a boffo appearance by Molly Shannon as taffy emporium proprietor Dilly Balsam and Mike White as brother Billy Balsam. If that's not outrageous stunt casting along the lines of Paul Reubens playing a scent-obsessed utilities worker, I don't know what is.

Shannon was pitch-perfect as Dilly, a conniving, mercenary of a business owner who proved that she's willing to break any rule in pursuit of running the competition out of business, whether that's pretending to have a stutter, that she's legally blind, or calling in the health inspector to the Pie Hole. (Hell, she even messed with their neon sign to read The Pie Ho. Classic.) Still, I am not sure how Ned explained to Olive the entire room filled to the ceiling with rotten fruit. What possible explanation is there for that?

Loved Billy Balsam's "Some Guy" routine as well as his dullard's gaze. While the promos for this week's episode revealed that Billy was going to kick the bucket, I had no idea he'd end up drowning in a vat of pink taffy after biting off his killer's finger. I was a little sad to see him offed in his first PD outing. Still, there's a least a guarantee that Dilly will stick around as (1) Shannon is booked for a multi-episode arc and (2) no one, not even the nefarious Dilly Balsam, gets away with murder on Pushing Daisies. I was utterly shocked that Dilly was a murderess, even if it was revenge-based for the killing of her brother. Did anyone else absolutely howl with Dilly's motorboat trip whilst being attacked by those Hitchcockian birds? I think we need a recurring character who is absolutely evil and hell-bent on destroying Ned and the gang.

This week's installment found Ned still guiltily harboring his secret that one of the first manifestations of his power, you know, inadvertently killed her father when they were children. I am sure that Ned felt a crushing guilt over his role in the death of Mr. Charles as a child at the boarding school, but his feelings must be compounded by the fact that he recently resurrected Chuck after she was felled by a murderer. Still, I can't say that any of us can fathom how Chuck now feels after learning that the love of her life killed her beloved father, a look of such shock and horror that it had to be juxtaposed with a sweeping, aerial view of the city as the camera swooped out of Chuck and Ned's bedroom into the cold winter night. Hmmm. Any takers on how long it will take before Chuck decides to take matters into her own hands and force Ned to resurrect her father?

Happy to see the return of Alfredo Aldarisio (Raul Esparza) to the Pushing Daisies mythos, especially as he has a thing for our oblivious Olive Snook. I was so depressed that Olive wouldn't even give him the time of day, especially as it's become clear that there's no hope of a future with Ned. Still, she finally realized that she might just have feelings for the espresso-machine fixing homeopathic anti-depressant salesman, thanks to her surprising fantasy in which he swept in after leaving his little espresso cup and enveloped Olive in his arms. But is it too late for the two of them?

It was also fantastic to see Chuck and Olive get along as they united against the common enemy of Dilly and her Bitter Sweets, especially garbed as cat burglars. It was sheer bliss seeing a goggled Olive run straight through a plate-glass window into the Balsams' shop, where they promptly released a whole host of vermin.

Best line of the night: “Don’t mess with the Pie Ho's.”

And was anyone else seriously creeped out by Sheila, the human-sized doll girlfriend of Burly Bruce Carter? A little too Lars and the Real Girl for my tastes.

My only complaint: what is going on with Chuck's wardrobe? For the first few episodes of this series, Anna Friel was outfitted in the most gorgeous 1950s-inspired ensembles that recalled both Douglas Sirk and Edith Head while being utterly stylish and completely wearable. Lately, however, Chuck has been wearing these odd, 1960s hippie clothes that are completely unflattering and just outright weird. This week's atrocious outfits compel me to speak out; what is happening to our gorgeous mannequin that these sartorial injuries are being forced on her? Is it a stylistic decision or a creative one in which Chuck subconsciously moves from Great Generation to Free Love via her clothes over the course of a handful of episodes? You decide.

In two weeks on Pushing Daisies ("Corpiscle"), Ned tries to heal the rift between him and Chuck while Emerson tries to get him to focus on their latest case involving a frozen insurance adjustor and scent expert Oscar Vibenius returns to discover what makes Chuck and Digby so utterly different. Uh-oh.


mB said…
I know what you mean re: Chuck's wardrobe, it seems like all the costume-budget is being taken up by the increasingly classic yet gorgeous Ned vest/trenchcoat ensembles.
I do hope Chuck goes back to her stylish 1950s dresses, it suit her so much better than that crazy witch hat and those green glasses (did she raid Wicked's wardrobe or something?)
Anonymous said…
::laughs at manuel's wicked comment::

It seems that Chuck is moving through the years. I can't wait to see her disco outfit.

I loved last night's ep, and last week's. Olive and Chuck make a great team. And, like you, I can't imagine how Ned explained away the rotten fruit. Mike White was hilarious. MS is always a hoot, and she was especially good last night. SO happy to see Raul back. Olive's fantasy was sweet and heartbreaking. Pie hos. Ha!
I usually hate guest stars as, more often than not, their appearance feels forced and ratings-based (Will and Grace, cough, Friends, cough, cough). But both 30 Rock and Pushing Daisies have proven that guest stars can be a wonderful (or wonderfully wicked in the case of Molly Shannon and Mike White) addition to an already fantastic cast.

As for Chuck's wardrobe, I have also found it to be...disturbing in the last couple of episodes. Which is sad because I adored her 1950's look. Bring back classic Chuck!

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