So yeah, happy drink-a-bunch-of-green-beer and puke magic on the sidewalk! Actually, I'm pretty sure almost everyone that reads this thing doesn't drink. We celebrated Shamrock Day and the first day of Spring by also celebrating a good friend's baptism at Sweetwater Tavern. That's right, Drunken Ribeye. If I'm not going to get drunk, why not get my dinner drunk? After a quick second trip to the grill, my steak was perfect. I still have yet to eat a more flavorful steak than theirs.
Completely Unrelated and Actually Longer than the Main Entry Dept. Stacy and I have spent the last couple of days catching up on some of our recorded television shows, specifically, Pushing Daisies.
Let me give you a little background. Pushing Daisies was created by Brian Fuller, the same man that created Dead Like Me for Showtime. We loved that show. It was about a girl with no life to speak of that finds, upon flaming death by rocketing space toilet debris, that she is now a grim reaper. She meets other reapers, who treat this supernatural job like a, well, job. The high-concept is as quirky as it sounds, made even more quirky by the cast and situations throughout the series. It was a joy to watch and left us wanting more every week.
Unfortunately, Showtime only aired two seasons before giving Dead Like Me the scythe.
Mr. Fuller next graced us with an even shorter-lived series on Fox, this one called Wonderfalls. It featured a hapless girl in a dead-end job at a gift shop atop Niagra Falls avoiding the successes the rest of her family had made. A brief 'sode in the first episode revealed that she could talk to inanimate objects, or rather, inanimate objects could talk to her. They would do so at increasingly entertaining times, often pestering her until she did some seemingly random or counter-productive act that would always wind up for the betterment of her life or the lives of those around her.
Again, high concept was brought masterfully to fruition by Brian Fuller's talent and skill as the charmingly quirky show progressed. given that it was a great show with a fantasy theme aired on Fox could only mean one thing, of course. Cancellation. This time after a mere three episodes. We managed to see nine episodes aired (according to www.tv.com, I remember fewer) before the show was fully taken off the air. Mercifully, the DVD that came out early the next year contained all of the filmed episodes, 13 or 14 in all.
Now, ABC brings us Pushing Daisies. A high concept series if there ever was one. This time, our protagonist is a pie maker (played by Wonderfall's protagonist's on-screen brother) with the unique ability to bring any dead thing to life by merely touching it. However, if he touches it again, it will die again, this time forever. The other and more worrisome caveat is that if a thing is kept alive longer than a minute, then something (or someone) must die in its place. Nature loves balance, I suppose. The first part of his ability has led us to the best charming quirk of this quirk-filled show, his inability to share any intimate contact with his childhood and current sweetheart, whom he had to bring back to life in the first episode. This leads to many adorable, sometimes almost sickeningly, scenes as the two of them find new ways to express their affection. I say almost sickeningly because I'm a big softy and Fuller often manages to offset the schmaltz with appropriate reactions from the hardened knitting detective (the pie-maker's partner) and the love-lorn waitress (pining for the pie-maker *choke*!)
Now with the concept out of the way, how is the show itself? Just as good as I'd expect it to be, delivered with panache, style, and a vibrant dream-like color palette by Mr. Fuller. I found myself throughout the episodes exclaiming, "she's so darned cute!" of the pie-maker's sweetheart, or, "Ilove watching Emerson!" as the knitting detective tried to abrasively escape the conversations that cropped up around him, or, "I love Olive!" even though she's vying for an obviously smitten pie-maker's heart, or, "Swoozie Kurtz is hilarious!" as childhood sweetheart's grieving aunts, Vivian and Lilly, reminisced about synchronized mermaid swimming, or, "The narrator is perfect!"
That last one is perhaps the most personally jarring for me, since the show is narrated by Jim Dale, the voice behind the audio recordings of most of the Harry Potter books. It's personally jarring because I could not stand the way he narrated many of the characters in the books. I have no such problems here. He's got the cultured British accent and story-telling cadence that showcase the eccentricity, charm, and magic that is Pushing Daisies.
Pushing Daisies is a bittersweet joy to watch. A joy, for the obvious care that is given to craft an engaging fantasy that has yet to disappoint in its nine episodes thus far. Bittersweet, for the knowledge that it is just a snappy reality show pitch away from the chopping block. Pushing Daisies was granted a reprieve after the writer's strike this year. It is getting another chance to dazzle audiences come this Fall. I will certainly be one of those prepared to be dazzled.
If you're interested in keeping truly original programming on the air, especially when the alternative is another reality show, you may want to check out Pushing Daisies for yourself. There are five full episodes on ABC's site. I highly recommend them.
Oh, and if you have a Nielsen's box on your TV, please, please, please don't let this show get canceled. I haven't had nearly enough yet!
Full Episode (with considerably fewer commercials than when first aired!)