Critics here, there and everywhere have already sung the praises of Pushing Daisies, and while I’m pretty much in full agreement, I don’t want just to repeat what they’ve already said (not all of it, anyway). I’m just as interested in what you think.
Namely, how’d the pilot (or "Pie-lette," as the episode was titled) play for you? Is this a world you want to visit every week, or its preciousness a little too much for you?
Me, I’m along for the ride. There are a lot of things I love about this show, and right up near the top is its point of view. For all the bright colors and whimsicality and romance, there’s a little tartness with all the sugar (just like in a really good pie). Ned (the excellent Lee Pace) may be a sweet guy, but he’s also just about entirely closed down emotionally. He uses his power — that’d be bringing the dead back to life, for a total of one minute — for his own financial gain.
And granted, he’s just brought the love of his life back from the dead, but he’s pretty callous about letting someone else die in her place ("It’s a random proximity thing," he notes). That Ned’s motives are not always pure — sometimes they’re mercenary, sometimes they’re selfish — and how having Chuck (Anna Friel) back in his life will affect that is one of the most intriguing things about the series for me.
Other things I’m loving:
The technical brilliance. Director Barry Sonnenfeld does a masterful job with the incredible visual palette, and huge kudos should also go to director of photography Michael Weaver and production designer Michael Wylie. That claymation sequence with young Ned and young Chuck was just brilliant.
The interplay between Pace and Chi McBride. McBride’s comic gifts haven’t been put to very good use on television in the past, but the dude is funny, and I love the way he and the more buttoned-down Pace interact.
The subtle wit in Bryan Fuller’s script: "Those musta been some emotional monkeys." The silly picture of Chuck with a lobster claw on all the newscasts. "I used to think masturbation meant chewing your food. … I don’t anymore." (OK, that last one maybe isn’t so subtle, but it’s funny.)
Things I like, but don’t quite love yet:
The relatively light tone of the crime-procedural stuff — clearing a dog’s name in a murder case, for instance. I think there’s some room to go a little more somber at times, and in fact that might be a good thing. It might be hard to come up with a goofy murder every week.
Ned and Chuck. This may have something to do with the limits Ned places on himself, but he can’t let himself have a real spark with Chuck. That makes for a more wistful romance, and that’s not an easy thing to convey. Pace and Anna Friel do a fine job, but I’m curious to see how their relationship develops down the line.
This was just amusing: the height difference between Pace, who’s about 6-foot-4, and Kristin Chenoweth, who you can basically fit in your pocket. That scene where she stands on the table to see eye-to-eye with him? No trick photography there.
A couple questions, a couple concerns:
Jim Dale has a great voice, but the pilot was a little over-narrated for my taste. I hope, with a lot of the exposition now out of the way, that Fuller and Co. dial it back a little bit in the future.
This is the most minor of things, but as the son of an English teacher, I’m cursed to notice it: The town where Ned and Chuck grew up is called Couer d’Couers. Except the correct spelling of that word (French for "heart") is coeur. I really can’t believe someone didn’t catch that.
I get the rules for animate objects: If Ned keeps a previously dead person alive for more than a minute, someone else dies. So how’s that work with fruit? When he brings a moldy strawberry back to life, does a banana turn brown? And when he does revive a piece of fruit, does he just keep it in his hand till it’s sliced and in the pie?
And, of course, the big one: I’m a little worried that, beautiful as Pushing Daisies is, it’s just a little too precious to catch on with a wide audience. I say bring on the agoraphobic, cheese-loving synchronized swimmers and the dessert-shaped restaurants and "honey for the homeless," but then again I loved all the talking tchotchkes on Wonderfalls too. I’m curious if any of that bugged you all.
So let ‘er rip, folks: Are you in love with Pushing Daisies, or are those of us who are doomed to have our love unrequited?