This season we’re trying out a number of new shows to see what might be enjoyable. The one show, so far, that has impressed both my wife and me is “Pushing Daisies“. If you’re not familiar with the concept, it’s pretty bizarre right from the outset. The main character, Ned, is a pie maker who has a special “talent”. Ned can touch anything that has died and bring it back to life but with two catches. First, if he doesn’t touch them again within one minute someone else within the vicinity has to die to make up for it. Second, if Ned does touch them a second time they will die permanently regardless of any other attempts to bring them back.
Ned, of course, put this interesting ability to use in ways that created a variety of issues. He first brought back his dog who was hit by a car. The dog is still alive much later in life suggesting a bit of immortality but Ned is now unable to touch him directly. He also brought back his mother who died when he was a child. This choice caused the father of his childhood love to die in her place and the tragedy was multiplied when Mom kissed Ned goodnight causing her to die for good.
The show itself is entirely unique. There’s a narrator throughout the story that adds depth in much the same way Daniel Stern‘s narration helped “The Wonder Years“. Here it’s even more impressive as the voice is done in a way that’s reminiscent of Dr. Seuss. The voice is playful, whimsical and adventurous. The show would be very different without it. The look of the show is also extremely important and effective. It too reminds you of Dr. Seuss. If not that then certainly it reminds one of a Tim Burton project.
The acting is okay but nothing special so far. The actors are still finding their way. There’s Ned who is well cast and fits the role. There’s his new business partner, Chi McBride, who realizes that there’s money to be made with Ned’s talent by bringing back the dead to ask for clues about who killed them. Then there’s Ned’s childhood love, now grown, played by relative newcomer Anna Friel. Anna seems to remind people of several other famous actresses. She reminds me a bit of Evangeline Lilly. Her character died in the first episode and was brought back by Ned who didn’t have the willpower to return her to her fate. Now they’re falling in love but are unable to do much of anything about it. Ned also hasn’t found a way to tell her that he was responsible for her father’s death. Then there’s Ned’s co-worker at the pie store played by the impossibly short Kristen Chenoweth. Her character, Olive, is secretly and desperately in love with Ned but he has no idea.
The show’s fantastical concept and presentation is a wonder to behold. It’s like re-discovering the magic of Christmas as an adult. You sit there smiling most of the time you watch it. Much of it has to be taken at face value and not questioned. When the dead are brought back they fail to ask the most basic questions and everything is kept positive. No one, so far, is distraught or desperate not to be sent back. They all just accept their fate and willingly participate in the dialogue with Ned while they can.
My biggest concern with the show is how long it can go on. How long can this concept feel fresh? For now I’m pushing the concerns to the back of my mind and just enjoying the show for what it is and for as long as it’s here to be enjoyed. It’s certainly not for everyone but it is a treat for those it does fit.