"PUSHING DAISIES: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON" Blu-ray Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Lee Pace as NED
Anna Friel as CHARLOTTE “CHUCK” CHARLES
Chi McBride as EMERSON COD
Kristin Chenoweth as OLIVE SNOOK
Swoozie Kurtz as LILY CHARLES
Ellen Greene as VIVIAN CHARLES
Jim Dale as NARRATOR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
The second season of the quirky and charming fantasy series “Pushing Daisies” continues the story of pie-maker Ned (Lee Pace) who has the amazing ability to bring the dead back to life with a single touch. Of course, the down-side to this is that another touch will send that person back to their grave. With his reanimated girlfriend Chuck (Anna Friel), Ned helps private investigator Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) solve murders by talking to the victims after they are dead.
WHAT I LIKED
I applaud any film or television series that takes a unique look at an old format. Similarly, I love to see television that goes beyond the box in our living rooms and brings us a look at a bigger, more cinematic world. “Pushing Daisies” does both of those.
At its core, “Pushing Daisies” is just a detective story. Sure, we’ve seen this sort of thing before, but never done in this way. The hyper-reality of the series is what makes the show much more than a simple P.I. series. It’s not just that the main character can bring the dead back to life, but the entire universe this series inhabits is like watching a mini-movie every week.
Everything from the production design (which includes the brilliant use of models and CGI) to the characters with witty, perfectly verbose but sharply written dialogue makes “Pushing Daisies” stand out. There are few television shows on the market that warrant a Blu-ray release, and this is one of them. It goes beyond the feature-film aspect of series like “24” and “Battlestar Galactica.” The rich color palette and snappy cinematography (clearly influenced by executive producer Barry Sonnenfeld) pop out on Blu-ray even more than they did on broadcast.
The characters in “Pushing Daisies” make the show work, and the dialogue they are fed is utterly unrealistic but deliciously fun. My favorite character is Emerson Cod, played expertly by Chi McBride, who shines in this chance at a light-hearted role. Similarly, the beautiful Kristin Chenoweth is adorable ad Olive Snook, the woman who loves Ned in vain.
It’s sad to get involved in a series this good only after its cancellation. Unfortunately, “Pushing Daisies” isn’t as mainstream as it needed to be to survive on the major networks. If only it had begun on one of the cable stations instead...
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
The biggest stumbling block this series faced was that, amid all of its brilliance, it does get bogged down in its own basic set-up. The detective stories weren’t the heart and soul of the series, but rather a MacGuffin used to give the characters a reason to interact. With the premise so disparately tied to the drama in the characters’ lives, “Pushing Daisies” might have been doomed from the start.
Also, the least interesting character in the series is Ned the pie maker, and unfortunately the keystone to the series. He’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but the dead girl, the sharp-tongued detective and his junior assistant were far more interesting.
The second season Blu-ray features all the episodes, including the rushed series finale in the last show. There’s also four featurettes. “The Master Pie Maker” examines the mind of series creator Bryan Fuller, who also gave us “Dead Like Me.” “From Oven to Table” follows the production of an episode from the script stage. “Secret Sweet Ingredients” spotlights composer Jim Dooley’s work. Finally, “Add a Little Magic” looks at the bevy of special effects that it takes to make the show.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Anyone looking for a unique and brilliantly made show that was canceled before its time.