Today at I finished one of several TV marathons underway this summer holiday. This particular show was Bryan Fuller’s (of Hannibal) Pushing Daisies. I can’t quite remember what made me start watching it, but I think it might have had something to do with having seen The Hobbit, adoring Lee Pace and going from there. We’ll never know for sure.
If it was him that attracted me to the show, then Pace certainly didn’t disappoint. He seems perfectly cast as the slightly awkward, shy, but very, very sweet Pie Maker. Two things that make me decide if someone is a good actor is if I don’t notice them ‘doing acting,’ and if they can make me forget all their other roles while I’m immersed in this one. It’s not often I actually see the first (thank God), except perhaps on The Bold and the Beautiful etc, so we can often disregard it; and I can honestly say I see no trace of Thranduil or Ronan the Accuser in Ned the Pie Maker so I’m going to go out on a limb (a very sturdy, strong limb) and say that Lee Pace is more than likely an adept actor. He’s also utterly gorgeous.
Kristen Chenoweth was also a highlight for the casting department. As the pint size jockey-cum-pie-waitress-cum-private-detective Olive Snook she was endearing, feisty, funny and quickly became my favourite character. It always (still) made me upset that the other main characters never shared their secrets with her but at least she got to be part of the gang and have her own happy ending. Although I honestly thought her happy ending would be with the herbal remedies salesman (another Hannibal connection: Raúl Esparza). I loved her random musical interludes, thank you Fuller for properly using cast members talents! It’s a shame she was almost always clad in her Pie Hole waitress uniform because I suspect she would have had an arsenal of adorable outfits to rival Chuck’s (Anna Friel). The costume team certainly had fun creating Lonely Tourist Charlotte Charles’ vintage inspired outfits complete with Grace Kelly hair scarf or 70s floppy hat. I for one certainly appreciated it. In fact Chuck is so lovely in general that it’s incredibly easy to adore Chuck and Ned, even if you do feel a bit sorry for Olive. It feels like nothing bad could happen in the world of Pushing Daisies! (Except the often and multiple murders, of course).
In fact the whole show was a joy visually. Even with a horribly disfigured corpse every episode. This is certainly in contrast to Fuller’s most recent show Hannibal, which although still beautifully shot and designed, is certainly on the darker, more morbid end of the scale. Also both shows sometimes focus on bees. I think it would be fun to watch other shows of Fuller’s and find all the recurring themes and motifs.
The set design was cute; aside from the pie encrusted Pie Hole I loved the orange candy striped city morgue. It was like a cross between a barber’s pole and a candy cane! Every episode has some funny, cute little thing like this – it’s great! The futuristic Dandelion powered car or the synchronised swimming mermaid aunts are examples that pop to mind.
With so much adorable and cute it was necessary to have a foil, and dry Emerson Cod with perfect comic timing and one liners brings the perfect amount of bitter to what could be a sickly sweet pie. Chi McBride (that is such a cool name) was hilarious and lovely in no where near equal measure – probably about 80:20 – and he was perfect. The Narrator (Jim Dale) also brought a sense of gravity to whatever he was saying, which really, is quite silly when you see it written down.
It saddens me to see shows cancelled (still crying about Firefly) but I could almost see why Pushing Daisies was. Towards the end of the second season it does feel like it is getting slightly formulaic and predictable. However in saying that I loved it, and want more, and there were loose ends I wanted tying! Everything was wrapped up so quickly. Like, within the last five minutes of the last episode kind of quick. Hell, I’m not even sure if things are actually wrapped up! At least what we did get was a bright, enjoyable, adorable, deeply watchable two seasons, and I hear rumour of a movie on the way? Oh please do!