Thursday, November 15, 2007

"Harold Hunden was, indeed, a damn polygamist.": Pushing Daisies

Well, it wasn't QUITE Big Love.

I really liked about four-fifths of this week's Pushing Daisies, the first episode where I felt like the writers got something like a good mystery. There was a compelling murder. There were a number of suspects with varied motivations. The murder commented on the regular characters in some fashion. It was all well and good. I just felt that the mystery kind of let itself down in the end, when it sort of avoided the pre-established clues and went for a resolution that didn't jibe with a lot of what came before. Well, SURE she was jealous of the other wives. I'll go along with that! I mean, Jeanne Tripplehorn was!

That was about the only thing I didn't like in this episode, though. Pushing Daisies continues to surprise me with how it manages to spin new stories out of its universe and reveal new quirks of its concept. Perhaps this means that the show only has this handful of stories in it, but for now, I'm really enjoying it so far.

Anyway, one thing I also like about the show is how it's increasingly unafraid to do really dark and disturbing things (like the guy slipping on the spilled coffee and endlessly stabbing himself on the dog brush) and how it's also slowly letting a mournful sadness creep around its edges (Olive's sad optimism is one of the sadder things I've seen this TV season, particularly as her unrequited love seems so. . .Peanuts-y, for lack of a better term). After the last episode, I thought I was sick of the Ned/Chuck longing, but they somehow roped me back into it this week by reintroducing that third element of Olive. (Or, apparently, I'm really easy when it comes to this show.)

I liked the crime-solving in the episode as well, particularly when it sent each of the main four out to interview a different wife, particularly in how it played up each of the four characters in subtle ways through how they lied about their relationships to Digby to get closer to the wives. I also really liked Bubble Gum, the world's most perfect dog, largely because I just like cute dogs. And I liked how Ned and the others finally solved the crime by bringing the dead guy to the other dead guy's funeral and "reactivating" him there, Weekend at Bernie's style.

The four wives were all well-cast, and I liked the relationships built with each of them by our four protagonists, and I liked that Ned's session with the psychiatrist seemed to give us just a bit more information on his character (it was nice to know, for instance, that he hasn't been a COMPLETE shut-in, as he's not a virgin, apparently).

The young Ned flashbacks are increasingly superfluous, but they're usually handsomely produced. I liked Emerson's dream for the same reason, which offered up some of the art directorial excitement the show could do on a budget.

So, anyway, that's all I have to say this week, apparently. We've only got three episodes left before the season ends thanks to the strike. Here's hoping Daisies can bat 9-for-9.


Carrie said...

I missed a lot of the intricacies of the mystery plot because I was on a strange and endless phone call trying to order a pizza. Annoying.

Good things I actually saw:
- I loved seeing Joel McHale, because I am in love with The Soup.
- I loved that McHale's character stabbed himself multiple times in the chest because of his "tenacity." I love exactly what you pointed out: that mixture of the macabre and twee they have going on this series.
- Emmerson's dream sequence when he was walking in place. Ha!
- Digby hiding in the trunk in Ned's flashback. Too cute.

Yes, the twee can be overwhelming but I still love this show.

Myles said...

I don't care about the twee as long as I get copious amounts of Digby. Seriously, cutest dog in the history of time, with apologies to my own.

Episode was charming, if perhaps a bit weighed down by the size of its mystery. Great to see the ratings holding steady, and to see that (unlike other new shows) it's holding onto its first half hour audience and actually growing in its second half.

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