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"Pushing Daisies" Rundown: Episode 1, "Pie-lette"

"Pushing Daisies" Rundown: Episode 1, "Pie-lette"

Well, wasn't that delightful? The confection of a TV show that is "Pushing Daisies" finally arrived on Wednesday, bringing the world of the Pie Hole to living rooms everywhere. I can't wait to hear what you all thought of this sweet treat, so just

This show is so unlike anything else on television. It's rooted in reality, but just barely; everything takes place in an over-saturated, fantastical world where a man can bring things back to life.

Let's talk about Ned the pie maker. Ned realized as a boy that he had the power to both bring things back to life (and kill them again), all with a single touch. He accidentally killed his childhood crush's father and had retreated into a world of loneliness and pie crust before a private investigator named Emerson Cod realized he could use Ned's powers for good (and financial gain).

Now let's talk about Chuck, who came "ready-made from the Play Doh fun factory of life." Chuck stomped around with Ned as a kid, then kissed Ned at her father's funeral, not knowing Ned had anything to do with his death. She then retreated into a solitary life with her synchronized-swimming star aunts until an ill-fated vacation left her strangled on a ship.

It takes Chuck's death to bring her and Ned back together; he raises her from the dead to find out who killed her, but he can't bring himself to touch her again, so she stays alive — unbeknownst to anyone but Ned and Emerson, at least so far. They search down Chuck's murderer and collect a handsome reward. It would be paradise except for one thing: If Ned touches Chuck again, she'll die.

I've heard endless comparisons to Amelie and Big Fish, but I also think this show is its own thing: a police procedural - slash - romance with a dash of the supernatural thrown in. Here are some of the things that stood out to me:

  • This show reveals so much in its details — the goofy picture of Chuck that the newscasters showed while talking about her death; the scratching contraption that Ned uses to pet his dog; the eye patch that kept Aunt Lily from realizing that Chuck was alive again.
  • I'm a sucker for wordplay, and so this show's verbal cleverness is a selling point for me. I love lines like "they retreated from their retreat" and comebacks like Ned saying his convention was "conventional." Maybe it's a little cheesy at times; mostly, I think it's brilliant.
  • The show would run the risk of being too saccharine if not for Chi McBride as Emerson. He hits all the necessary cynical notes ("bitch, I was in proximity!") and keeps Ned in his place.
  • I don't have a great sense for Kristin Chenoweth's character yet, but I'm happy any time I see her. And how funny is the height difference between her and Lee Pace?
  • The little moments between Chuck and Ned make me squeal. The kissing monkeys! The fact that she covers her eyes when he says he's embarrassed to bring someone back to life in front of her! The way they clasp their hands behind their backs simultaneously!
  • Why is Ned so scared to touch normal, living people? If they're alive, he's not going to kill them.

I hope "Pushing Daisies" can keep up the high standard it set with this episode; that pilot couldn't have been cheap to make (in fact, there were reports that Barry Sonnenfeld was banned from directing future episodes because he went over budget, though those have been refuted) and I'm not sure how the show would scale back its visual effects and still keep its sense of whimsy. Some people — my boyfriend, for example — are also worried that the whole show will become about Ned and Chuck touching or not touching. I hope it maintains its momentum going forward. What about you? Are you psyched for more "Daisies" — or was all the sweetness too much to take?

Photos copyright 2007 ABC, Inc.

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