Pushing Daises

I watched 3 episodes of Pushing Daisies tonight. This may be the best new show of the short 2007 season.

Ned, the main character, can bring people (and animals) back from the dead by touching them. If he touches them a second time in 60 seconds, they die forever. If he doesn't touch them a second time in 60 seconds, someone else dies in their place. And the next time he touches them, they also die forever. He can, however, touch people who never died and they're fine.

He runs a pie shop (rather different from Mrs. Lovett's shop) and uses his unique talent to partner with Emerson, a private investigator, to solve crimes or collect reward money. He will revive a murder victim to ask them how they died, and then we're off.

Ned's love interest is Chuck his best friend from childhood, who died, and Ned brought back to life. Now, of course, he can never touch her again, so it's not an ideal situation.

Rounding out the main cast is Olive, a waitress from the pie shop, who doesn't really know what's going on, but is secretly in love with Ned.

It's an interesting idea for a show, but what really sets the show apart is the unique look and feel. The whole show is framed in a story book style, rhyming narration. The characters all snap into place on sets brightly and fantastically colored. The cinematography is amazing, with wide, sweeping camera shot that are cinematic in scope.

Unlike Heroes which is about magical people in the real world, Pushing Daisies is about magical people in a fantastical world. It has the sweeping, epic, and fantastical sets and camera swoops of the first Batman movie or even Edward Scissorhands, combined with the bright colors of the Batman TV series. It has a very Tim Burton feel.

Dialog is faster, characters are stiffer, things fit in just the right way. The story is told as though it's a children's book, and the characters move and act as though they are dolls acting out that book.

While the main character actors do a great job, Kristen Chenoweth's Olive provides a great contrast. With her heavily patterned apartment decorations and bright look, loud look and approach to life, she provides a nice balance to the secretive, often dowdy appearance of the other characters. Of course I've also been a fan of Chenoweth since her work on the the West Wing and an appearance on the Conan O'Brien show.

Pushing Daisies is an inventive, original, and beautiful show. If you can handle the talking and walking dead without nightmares, this is a great show to add to your weekly routine.

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