Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Pushing Daisies review

Holy resurrection, Batman - this show wrecks the curve for all the others! I have to recalibrate the new fall shows report card: based on premieres only, Pushing Daisies gets a full on A, Chuck gets a B+, Reaper gets a B-, Bionic Woman gets a C and Moonlight gets a D+.

Did you watch PD? You should have - there's nothing else like it on television right now. Our hero, Ned, discovered at a young age that if he touches a dead person/animal, the deceased will come back to life. If he touches the re-living again within one minute, it goes back to being dead. If he does not touch the re-living again within one minute, someone else in close physical proximity will die to maintain some kind of karmic balance. Young Ned learns all this at the tender age of 10 and, understandably traumatized, goes on to live a secluded life with his resurrected dog, Digby (whom he pats with a back-scratcher).

Adult Ned (cute!) has an arrangement with a P.I., Emerson, whereby when a reward is listed for an unsolved murder, Ned resurrects the murder victim for a minute so they can tell him who killed them, then Emerson solves the case and they split the reward. This eventually leads Ned to the girl he first kissed (and for whom he subsequently carried a ginormous torch), Charlotte Charles, a/k/a "Chuck." [Digression: what is with all the Chucks lately? There's this character, the TV show, the movies I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and Good Luck Chuck. It's weird.] Chuck has been murdered: Ned resurrects her to find her killer but he doesn't touch her again when her minute is up because he's all in love. Of course, he can't ever kiss her or hug her or hold her hand or anything else, but at least she's not dead anymore.

Aside from the clever premise, PD is visually amazing: supersaturated colors, funky camera movements, sets that look like the lovechild of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Nanny McPhee, with a sprinkle of Toys for good measure. The dialogue is fast and funny and full of word play; the two leads are adorable. I'm not sure how well Pushing Daisies will hold up over the long haul - it seems like it has the propensity to fall into the dead-person-of-the-week (a la Tru Calling) without much of a longterm story arc - but as of right now, it's the only new show this fall that is not in any danger of being deleted from my DVR list.

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