Pushing Daisies: Brainy eye candy

Howie and I are big fans of ABC’s Pushing Daisies, now in its second season. It is probably the most unique show currently produced on television, pure eye candy, but also intelligent with its wonderful character actors, original storylines and quick dialogue. Its quirky style is reminiscent of Tim Burton’s 2003 movie, Big Fish with supersaturated colors, retro stylized costumes and sets, and cartoonish elements. This all makes sense when you see that it is directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, director of Men in Black and The Addams Family movies. It’s also co-written and produced by Bryan Fuller of Heroes (another fave) and Wonderfalls fame.

Wile E. Coyote

Yes, it’s about a guy who can bring people back from the dead, but it’s not dark. Oddly, it’s an incredibly happy show, romantic and warm.

Additionally, it’s a show you can watch with kids. The death and violence portrayed on Pushing Daisies is Wile E. Coyote type death, cartoonish. I know there are those who think the Roadrunner cartoons are horrible. I’m not one of them.

The cast of this show is terrific. I don’t know what the casting process was like, but they did an excellent job of getting the right people in the right parts. This holds true from main characters all the way down to the briefest of cameo appearances.

Spoiler Alert: The following external links to pushingdaisies.wikia.com contain spoilers if you’re not current at least through Circus, Circus — Season 2, episode 3, aired on October 8, 2008!

The narrator, voiced by Jim Dale, ties everything together with perfect irony. Remember the Walgreen’s “Perfect” commercials? Dale’s narratives intone facts regarding the show’s most macabre elements, but with a melodious, grandfatherly voice; the result is what I think of as an aural oxymoron. You just don’t expect it.

I can’t possibly go into all the characters or plot details, but I’ll at least describe a few for you. You can see links to much more information at the bottom of this entry. Again, beware…Thar be spoilers within ’em!

Ned the Pie Maker is played by Field Cate (young Ned) and Lee Pace (adult Ned). Young Ned rarely, if ever talks; this makes sense since his appearances have voiceovers by the narrator, who describes what happened. Lee Pace plays Ned straight and his facial expressions are wonderfully emotive. Ned is the object of two characters’ affections, Chuck and Olive.

Charlotte “Chuck” Charles, played by Sammi Hanratty (young Chuck) Anna Friel (adult Chuck), is Ned’s formerly-dead love interest, who Ned brought to life, but couldn’t stand to lose again and let live. As a consequence, the¬†funeral director in charge of Chuck’s arrangements died. Now Ned can’t ever touch Chuck or she’ll die again, for good. Chuck is both pretty and intelligent, good at coaxing information out of people – a trait handy for solving murders.

Kristin Chenoweth’s pint-sized character is Olive Snook. (I blogged about Kristin last February, before I even knew about her involvement in this series.) It’s such a treat when Olive’s character has a musical number. I could just eat her up, she’s so good! She has wonderful timing and makes us laugh aloud.

Vivian and Lily Charles are Chuck’s spinster aunts. These oddball sisters, played by Swoosie Kurtz and Ellen Greene respectively,¬† are cheese aficionados who used to have a popular synchronized swimming act, the Darling Mermaid Darlings. As far as they know, their niece Chuck is dead and buried. This plot element provides fodder for many good scenes and subplots.

Private Investigator Emerson Cod, played with gruff, deadpan genius by Chi McBride, learns of Ned’s unique gift and partners with him in crime-solving endeavors. What could be easier? Ned revives the victim with a touch and asks who killed him, then touches him again to re-dead him. Emerson then takes credit for solving the mystery and collects the reward money, which he splits with Ned and Chuck.

Remember that 1-minute time limit? Yeah. Emerson is adamant about that, especially seeing how it could be him who kicks the bucket if the corpse talks a blue streak and Ned loses track of time.

That brings me to some of the most delightfully disgusting characters on the show, the corpses. I’m trying to find some good stills of these characters, but am not having much luck. This show couldn’t be what it is without the makeup artists who bring these crime victims to life — or should I say death? The makeup artists are some of this show’s biggest contributors. This video clip from the official site provides some behind-the-scenes footage and an explanation of how and why these characters are depicted as they are.

The wardrobes are fanciful, truly amazing. They’re so popular, fans post on pages like Chuck Chic for finding lookalikes of popular togs on the show. Here’s another behinds-the-scenes video, this one about the wardrobe department:

Curious? Want to read more? Here are some more Pushing Daisies links. Again, beware the spoilers! Also, have your favorite pop-up blocker enabled, because some (*cough*insider*cough*) are brutal when it comes to ads.

It’s just a wonderful show. I encourage you to buy or rent the Pushing Daisies Season 1 DVD and catch up. ABC aires episodes for free online, and it’s not too late to catch up.

If you love the show, let ABC know. You can let them know by participating in their official Pushing Daisies message boards and by writing ABC right from the website. You can also join me in contacting the show’s commercial sponsors and let them know how much you enjoy this series.

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