Jun 17, 2010

[TV] Pushing Daisies: Season 2

Pushing Daisies: Season 2Mysteries and music make for an odd pairing, but that certainly worked for this particular TV show, I always felt. Plus there was the added element of magic and sweet little romance with the recently deceased but all these diverse elements came together to make for some very compelling television.

But as is the way of such non-mainstream television programs, the bar was set pretty high for the show and they had their work cut out for themselves in order to stay alive. Plus the horrible 2007-2008 Writer's strike abruptly cut short its first season, making this follow-up even harder.

I guess it was of little surprise that the show didn't get renewed given their performance in terms of ratings and estimated views, but I still strongly feel this show should have been given more of a chance. At least we'll have the memories to keep us company and all, but it's certainly going to take more than the touch of a magical finger to bring this show back to life some day.


LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26:  Actor Chi McBri...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Pushing Daisies was a quirky mystery series whose central plot point was Ned (Lee Pace), the Piemaker, being able to bring back the dead without consequence for a single minute. Beyond a minute, life would balance the scales and take another life of equitable value. He used these abilities to help private investigator Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) solve various murder mysteries of sorts and also to revive his childhood sweetheart Charlotte (Anna Friel).

The second season of the show set out to address some of the plot hooks left hanging at the end of the first seeason. So this time around we got to see an expanded role for Pie Hole waitress Olive (Kristin Chenoweth), more around Emerson's missing daughter, and of course a heck of a lot more about Chuck (Charlotte) and her complicated backstory involving her aunts Vivian (Ellen Greene) and Lily (Shoosie Kurtz).

The show also saw the return of interesting characters like the dog trainer Simone (Christine Adams) and new characters like the rival Norwegian detectives. And of course the occasional musical number here and there (go Chenoweth!) - so all the usual good stuff.

As much as I loved this show and enjoyed watching every single episode, even I have to admit there was something a little off about this second season. I think the writers felt too pressured to add more substance to the characters but did so in a manner that was either cheap or confusing. There were just too many quirky twists that dragged the viewer this way and that way that probably made it a lot harder for newer viewers to fully enjoy the show.

I feel the season (and ultimately the fate of the show) would have gone a lot better if they kept things simple, focused more on the core things that made the show work and of course throw in more musical numbers. While they didn't have to go over the top in this area like Glee did, but there was certainly room for a campy musical interlude every two shows or so, especially given the rich amount of Broadway talent already embedded into the show.

Still, when Pushing Daisies was great, it was absolutely awesome. As much as the concept alone was brilliant, it took a lot more than that to explain why it worked for me. The writing was wonderfully strong most of the time and the humor was quick, witty and therefore brilliant. And the visual look for the show was wonderfully vibrant and almost cartoon-like and very reminiscent of the style of directors like Tim Burton.

Of course it just wasn't great enough and by the time the season was getting back to the good stuff, the show got canned and the last three episodes weren't immediately scheduled for airing. It's a shame that such a truly creative and novel show wasn't given enough of a chance to grow into something much more. If anything, at least Kritin Chenoweth still won and Emmy for her fabulous performance during this particular season. And Lee Pace was nicely awkwardly and geekily cute too. Yay for creative methods of reviving dead bees!

Pushing Daisies will remain to be one of my favorite shows of all time. This second season of the show gets 4 excuses to have Kristin Chenoweth break into song out of a possible 5.
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