Pushing Daisies was one of those entirely odd-ball concepts that made last years new show line-up appear gratifyingly different. The story of a boy-turned-man who can bring living things back to life with a touch, but kill them stone dead with another was presented with a surreal visual panache and clever word-play.
But as witty as I found it, deep down that didn’t avert my concern that it was playing to a particular intellectual audience, and a possibly narrow one at that. But the show did reasonably well until the writers’ strike undermined it, and every other show last year.
Now it’s back, so is it second time lucky for these daisies…?
I’ll admit up front that the viewing figures suggest not, but so many shows this year have had a rocky start that I’m not ready to accept Pushing Daisies needs the Pie Maker’s touch yet.
The first of the new series has a distinctly Bee theme, being about the untimely death of the fresh new face of Betty’s Bees, bee-based products operation. As this is an area of expertise for Charlotte “Chuck” Charles it gives her more to do than make goofy faces at the Pie Maker and blurt out what everyone else in a scene is thinking. She goes undercover at Betty’s Bees to determine who used the bees to kill, and bring them to justice. Meanwhile Emerson Cod creates pop-up books and the Pie Maker gets paranoid about his relationship with Chuck.
Undercover Chuck’s adventure at Betty’s Bees introduces her to two comedy stalwarts – first French Stewart (3rd Rock) as the owner of Betty’s Bees, Woolsey Nicholls. And secondly Missi Pyle (Galaxy Quest, Big Fish, Dodgeball) as the aforementioned Betty, of bee fame. French Stewart pulls his slightly crazy persona out of the bag, but it’s actually the script writer Bryan Fuller (Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me) that gets the real fun here. He works every possible bee/honey/hive reference and pun he can possibly muster into the conversations. Missi Pyle brilliantly plays the manic spurned original owner and now ‘mascot’ of the company whose secret lives on in the derelict ‘Honey House’.
Threaded between the plot to find the bee killer is the underlying secondary theme developed in the first season about secrets, and the keeping of them. Olive is full of these to the point she might burst, and so for her own sanity and Lillian “Lily” Charles peace of mind she’s convinced to enter a nunnery. In the typical hyper-reality of Pushing Daisies she arrives their in a remake of The Sound of Music complete with running across a mountainside in full voice. And that’s where we leave her, even after the bee assassin is incarcerated.
So what’s my overall impression? I adore this show, its subtleties and nuances. I’m just not sure large numbers of other people get it and how clever it is, worryingly.
Next week we go to the circus I’m told, and everyone loves the Circus! Let’s hope the viewing figures reflect that…