Gotta Give Them Their Props.
If you read Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett of Douglas Adams you are probably already watching Pushing Daisies. If you are a fan of Tim Burton’s movies, you really should be watching. ABC’s Pushing Daisies is one of the best shows going on television. It’s a sweet natured story, created by Bryan Fuller – a man with a history of creating similar shows such as Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me.
A quick recap:
Ned is The Piemaker, a character who had a strange, Oliver Twist, Dickensian childhood, although the setting is neither in England nor the Victorian era. He has the ability to touch people and bring them back to life for up to one minute, after which he touches them again and they are gone forever.
Charlotte ?Chuck? Charles was the unattainable object of Ned’s childhood affection. She was a mermaid?oddly enough, not a real mermaid, just a member of a famous family of synchronized swimmers. When she dies as an adult (in the pilot episode), Ned is able to revive her and keep her alive, but if he ever touches her again she’s dead for good.
Olive Snook is the Piemaker’s assistant, who had her eyes on Ned, and consequently has a prickly relationship with Chuck.
And Emerson Cod (don’t you love these names!) is a private detective. Ned decides he should use his powers to wake corpses, ask how they died, and perhaps solve their murders. Emerson helps in these investigations.
The stories are cute, and given a nice little twist by a Fractured Fairy Tales type narrator, but what makes this unlike anything you’ve seen on television is the production design. Although everything in the world except Ned is normal (at least in the sense of not supernatural), the look of the houses, stores, schools, town is right out of the village in Big Fish, maybe with a little Pee Wee’s Playhouse thrown in.
In the look of the show, I would have to include the casting. Lee Pace manages to make Ned seem constantly mournful, perhaps regretting all the missed affection from his childhood. Anna Friel as Chuck has an almost preternatural whimsical appeal, which makes you understand why Ned would want to keep her around even if he can never touch her. She couldn’t be cuter if she was a basket of puppies. Kristin Chenoweth is very funny, because she is small and cute, but her character Olive is a little annoying.
And special kudos to the props. Among which I would have to include Kristin’s breasts. This is not because I am a breast-obsessed uncouth male dickhead. For one thing, I am an ass man, thank you very much. But for such a small woman (4’11?), she has these incredibly round, full, and yes, jiggly breasts. In the show, they seem to have a life of their own which is why I am including them as a prop.
But the number one prop?again stretching the definition a bit?is the hilarious make up effects on the various maimed, mutilated, burned, etc. corpses. They aren’t funny in the over-the-top-horror way of, for example, the zombies in Roberto Rodriguez’s Planet of Terror. They are outright, laugh-out-loud funny. Exaggerated tire treads on a victim who was run over, horsehoe prints on the face of one who was trampled, you gotta see ’em to believe ’em. And then you’ll be hooked.
In short (I know, too late) props for the props of this whimsical, hyper-real fairy tale.
Pushing Daisies airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. on ABC. If you missed any of the episodes you can catch up at ABC.com