Friday, October 12, 2007

And the winner is ...

It’s a rare network TV show that can have Kristin Chenoweth burst into a rendition of Hopelessly Devoted to You and not induce viewers to scramble for the remote. That show is Pushing Daisies, and it’s the best of the 2007 freshman crop.

Other new shows like Chuck, Gossip Girl and Bionic Woman got a lot more hype than Pushing Daisies, and some of them are pretty good, but this highly stylized yet easily accessible ABC hour-long is definitely the most innovative and entertaining show of the bunch. It’s a tricky concept to pull off: it’s arty, it’s mostly about death, deception and the darker side of human nature, and it’s funny as hell. I call it an “hour-long” because it’s not really a drama, but I hesitate to call it a dramedy. Its chalk full of quirky characters - from retired synchronized swimmers with a host of social anxieties, to a grizzled PI who likes to knit gun holster cozies – and the sets owe a lot to Tim Burton. These elements could easily get cloying of overly affected, but so far on Pushing Daisies, they’re just fun.

The show itself is about a guy named Ned who found out as a kid that he has the freaky power to touch dead things and make them alive again. Naturally, there’s a catch. Actually two: after he makes something come back to life, if he touches it again it’s dead forever; and if he keeps a newly resurrected life alive again for more than a minute, another living thing must die in its place. Ned now makes a living baking pies, but he supplements his income by teaming up with the PI to find out who killed murder victims and collect the reward money. When he brings his childhood crush back to life after she’s murdered on a cruise, he can’t bring himself to kill her again, so now she’s part of the team. Her and Ned are hopelessly smitten with each other, but can't touch or she'll die, and they've developed the habit of high fiving via inanimate objects they're holding that's just one of many subtle touches that make the show surprisingly rich for such a new program.

The cast is great, the writing inventive and its visually like few other shows I've ever seen. There is a narrator whose presence worries me – sometimes he makes me laugh out loud but other times he’s grating – and I’m concerned about the creators’ ability to keep up the tone. So far it’s been pitch perfect but going off key just a bit will ruin the whole little world they’ve constructed. Provided that doesn’t happen, Pushing Daisies gets my vote for best new show.

Which of course means it’ll be cancelled in about two weeks.


Red said...

I hope they don't cancel it! (though creator Bryan Fuller's track record isn't promising)

Mos def the best new show of the season. Chi McBride is so funny as the PI. And any show with a pie shop is awesome.

carey said...

Really, I appreciate the gesture, but this blog is doing more damage than good. My DVR already runs my life (like the other entry said), now I gotta add Carpoolers and Pushing Daisies to the queue? These reviews don't make it easy for me to say "ehh". Which is a testament to you bloggers! :)

I may just have to cut out that whole sleeping at night business, it's totally getting in the way.

Liz said...

Sleeping is overrated. Actually its not - its going to work during the day that's overrated.