Tuesday, December 18, 2007

10 Reasons You Should Watch "Pushing Daisies"

I don't know where to begin with this particular recommendation, but I absolutely need to encourage everyone who may be reading this to watch the new ABC drama-comedy-fairytale, "Pushing Daisies".

In no particular order, here are at least 10 very good reasons to watch:

1: The music is fantastic! Composed by veteran (of mostly video games like the SOCOM series) Jim Dooley, Pushing Daisies sports a melodic, romantic-fantasy musical language that blends cinematic elements with the mixed-pop musical timing. Not only that, in a rare twist for the continuing trend of poorer quality music and production values being scrapped for the bottom-line benefits that pre-recorded "tracks" bring to most modern television programming, Dooley's weekly scores are recorded by a full orchestra.
2: Executive Producer & Director: Barry Sonnenfeld. Contributing immensely to Pushing Daisies' feeling more like a series of 45 minute films than a television series, the director of Men in Black (I & II), the Addam's Family Values and the grossly under-rated live action version of The Tick starring Patrick Warburton brings this magical universe to life. Often compared stylistically to Tim Burton, one would be remiss to ignore Sonnenfeld's clearly established style as both a director and producer and though, yes, it's similar to Burton in that it often revolves around macabre fantasy, Sonnenfeld uses much brighter colors, themes and opts for comedy over tragedy in a way that Burton's aesthetic has just never been able to handle. If you're watching carefully, you (as my dad astutely did) will see much more of Sonnenfeld's Lemony Snicket's: A Series of Unfortunate Events in this show than you will even Big Fish.
3: Michael's Wylie and Weaver round out the visual aesthetic as Production Designer and Cinematographer respectively. Vivid colors and excellent, motion-picture-style cinematography result in Pushing Daisies being one of the most attractive shows ever broadcast on network television.
4: THE WRITING! Of course I've spent the first three reasons talking about technical issues and the beauty of this series is really in it's heartbreaking romantic streak. The show, for those who don't already know is about a pie-maker named Ned, gifted with the ability to bring the dead back to life - but only for a minute. Any longer than a minute and someone else (in relative proximity and of more-or-less "equal" value) has to die. Unfortunately, even after a minute, Ned's touch will permanently "re-dead" any one or anything he's brought back... And thus the rub.

You see, Ned has brought the love of his life from the age of 9, Charlotte Charles aka "Chuck", back to life. Though the couple (played by Lee Pace and Anna Friel) have phenomenal on-screen chemistry and clearly love each other, they cannot touch lest Chuck dies for good. Add to this the supporting characters Emerson Cod - Private Detective and partner of Ned's who solves murders by having Ned re-animate the dead and asking them who their killers were, Chuck's two aunts (or are they both aunts?) - synchronized swimming duo "The Darling Mermaid Darlings", and Olive Snook - waitress for Ned's pie shop, "The Pie-hole" and not-so-secretly in love with Ned herself, and you have a story ripe for all kinds of twists, turns and surprises.

And I haven't even mentioned guest characters played by Paul Reubens, Mike White, or Molly Shannon yet...

Pushing Daisies has almost unlimited potential as a story because the characters are so well defined and so interesting, yet it enjoys the possibility of a weekly format like any detective show and a romantic entanglement impossible to extricate it's characters from and impossible to consummate. It's heartbreaking and lovely all at the same time. I dare you to watch Ned & Chuck hold their own hands pretending they were holding each other's and not feel something.
5: The casting. Lee Pace and Anna Friel work together perfectly - but it's the stellar supporting cast that really makes the show what it is. Starting with the wry and very-funny Chi McBride as Emerson and moving directly on to Wicked's Kristin Chenoweth as Olive. Chenoweth isn't the only Broadway singer to make an appearance though, Ellen Greene (who you may remember from Little Shop of Horrors) as Chuck's aunt Vivian and Raul Esparza as travelling salesman Alfredo Aldarisio who is not-so-secretly in love with Olive also have excellent musical chops. Though we haven't seen Esparza break out into song yet, it's only a matter of time. Beyond that, with guest stars like Paul Reubens as an olfactory scientist who lives in the sewer and Molly Shannon as a ruthlessly aggressive small business owner, how can you possibly go wrong?
6: It has a very strong likelihood of making you cry out of a mixture of love, happiness and tragedy. I view this as a very good thing - especially for TV which is ordinarily filled with trash.
7: If you care about such things, it's already been nominated for several Golden Globes and it's getting great reviews by people (not unlike myself) who spend a lot of time watching and analyzing the celluloid artform. Basically, what I'm saying is that in case you don't believe I know what I'm talking about what with my masters degree in film scoring and my extensive study of aesthetics and all, I'm not the only one.
8: Jim Dale narrates. If you don't know who Jim Dale is, listen to the Harry Potter series' audiobooks - he's a fabulously proper older English gentleman and you simply can't find a better narrator for a fantasy of this type.
9: There's no excuse not to watch it - if you miss its regular Wednesday night showing, www.abc.com is the best of any of the networks at providing a free online viewing option. If you have high-speed internet (and let's be honest, who doesn't anymore?) then you're good to go and can watch the show at any time.
10: And this one I just found out about (well after I started writing this promotional diatribe), I *might* get to replace a friend of mine as Jim Dooley's assistant and actually WORK on the music for the show! My brain has exploded...

Seriously. Go watch it, you'll be glad you did! And wish me luck ;)

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