‘Pushing Daisies’: Season One

23Sep08

I want to love Pushing Daisies. I really do. I love Bryan Fuller’s previous series Wonderfalls, I love Lee Pace, and I love the idea of a modern fairy tale. But I don’t love Pushing Daisies. I like Pushing Daisies and I’ll probably keep up with it, but I just don’t love it the way that I thought I would.

I think Lee Pace is a lovely combination of sweet and sexy, but I find the character of Ned a little lacking. I don’t think that the writers have given Ned enough interesting stuff to do and he comes off as rather bland. Sweet, but bland. Young Ned usually gets some interesting business at the very beginning of the episode, which is informative but doesn’t mean the writers don’t need to find some interesting business for adult Ned.

Chuck has been given more to do and she feels better developed, but I struggled to like her through the first several episodes. I think the writers were going for winsome and charming, but Anna Friel played Chuck as guileless and grating at first. Friel has calmed her performance down a bit and I took a better liking to Chuck as the season progressed. Chuck also has a common TV character trait that drives me nuts: she is courageous in a supposedly endearing but actually impractical way. I think we, as the audience, are supposed to find it cute or funny or to admire her spunk when Chuck ignores Emerson and Ned’s warnings that she shouldn’t show herself too much in public, but really she is just being unnecessarily reckless and a little bratty.

I love Emerson and Olive. I think Chi McBride and Kristen Chenoweth are the show’s greatest assets. McBride plays Emerson with just the right amount of dead pan and silliness, and I was happy to see that the writers were trying to give Emerson a little more depth toward the end of the season. Kristen Chenoweth brings a lot to a very tired plot device. Chenoweth plays Olive with warmth, humor, and just gosh darn adorableness. And it was bloody brilliant of the writers to make her a retired jockey.

Season two starts this Wednesday and I’m curious to see where this show goes. It’s a challenge to keep a romance between two people who can’t touch interesting and Ned can only have so many sexy dreams. Godspeed, Bryan Fuller. I’m putting my faith in you.

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