I’ve not been keeping up with my diet of TV, so I’ve put myself on the episodic treadmill to deliver two episode reviews of Pushing Daisies.
Epsiode 4 is called ‘Frescorts’, which hints at the subject by combining the words ‘Friend’ and ‘Escort’. The overall theme here is friendship in its many shades and hues. Unusually the lead character in this story is Emerson Cod, and it develops his aspirations to his lost daughter and introduces his inspirational mother. Calista Cod is a hard-bitten, cigar smoking private detective who brought her son up to be the gumshoe he ultimately became.
Frescorts is an unusual escort agency that rents friends to those unable to secure their own, and it attracts the attention of Emerson Cod when one of their rentable employees is murdered. Chief suspect is the Carry-on named, Randy Mann, a person for whom taxidermy is an all-consuming passion. Given that the victim, Joe Downey, was filled with formaldehyde, this looks like an open-and-shut case.
The truth involves a convoluted story about Joe’s relationship with Barb the receptionist, CEO Buddy Amicus and the fall-out from a long lost football game.
When Barb dies in the arms of an automated hugging machine, the focus falls on the life-size mannequin dressed as a Spartan football player that stands in Buddy Amicus’ office.
But these are actually just diversions to the friendship theme, the loss that Ned is feeling since Chuck went to live with Olive, and Emerson’s inability to tell his mother about his search for Lil’ Gumshoe.
As the standard of this show is actually very high, I’m going to say this trip to the Pie Hole is actually not very filling. It has some good moments, like the scene where Olive and Chuck arrive at Frescorts to infiltrate the organisation, calling themselves Kitty Pimms and Patti Boots. But compared with the fruit laden hilarity of the ‘Bad Habits’ episode that proceeded it, the whole experience is a bit bland and lacks bite.
What it does do is move Emerson Cod’s story on, and puts Ned and Chuck’s volatile relationship back on track as much as that’s possible. What it really lacked was the insanity that usually accompanies Lily and Vivian Charles, who were sadly missed here. Not wanting to dwell on what’s possibly the weakest episode this season, lets dive straight into Episode 5.
Made from entirely fresh and fragrant ingredients, this story is called ‘Dim Sum, Lose Some’, and if you didn’t get the pun there’s Chinese cooking involved. But before cracking that fortune cookie, Ned has an unexpected, and frankly unwelcome, guest at the Pie Hole, when a man called Dwight arrives looking for Ned’s father.
Meanwhile, Emerson Cod has cracked that fortune cookie open and inside is a note saying ‘Help me Emerson Cod!’. Strange isn’t it, that people so ingenious to put a call for help inside confectionary aren’t smart enough to sign their name?
He heads downstairs to the Chinese restaurant beneath his office and runs smack into Simone Hundin, widow of polygamist, Harold Hundin, from a previous Daisies story. A twist for Daisies, a returning guest character, and the unsettling sight of dog obedience expert, Simone, isn’t the only unusual aspect to this Pie Hole adventure.
Simone has an unnatural power over Emerson, as the same clicker that she uses to train her dogs works just as effectively on him. But it’s not Simone that sent the call for help; maybe it was Lai Di Ting the late chef’s widow? Emerson must find out what happened to Chef Bao Ting, which, as usual, involves Ned’s unique ability to get dead people conversational. Bao had an unfortunate end when a bun steamer he was using exploded, sending a metal rod through the side of his head making him resemble a giant letter ‘T’. This causes an inspired visual gag. When brought back to life, Bao panics and attempts to run through a doorway. His resurrection is short, but a clue is left to his demise and it involves a lost bet.
Back at the Pie Hole, Ned is raking over the coals of the long dead relationship with his father, less in an attempt to find a burning ember of emotion, but more to make sure there isn’t any likelihood of an unexpected conflagration. Twenty years previously, while at boarding school, Ned had received a card informing him that his father had sold the family home and moved away to start a new family. Ned knows where his father might be, but that’s as much as he’s happy to divulge to the mysterious diner that Olive now seems enamoured with.
Going undercover at the Dim Sum restaurant, Chuck, Ned and Emerson spy the lovely Simone seated at a large table where nobody seems hungry, although there’s plenty of food on the table. Bizarrely they’re all playing poker, with each card being represented by a different dish!
Emerson invites Simone to his office to pump her for information. He doesn’t get much new information but the pumping goes well.
Chuck and Olive’s plans go less well when they decide to pay a visit to Ned’s father, and discover that Ned has two identical half-brothers, Maurice and Ralston, and that his father left that home as well. Unsurprisingly, they share Ned’s distinctive eyebrows.
Back at the Chinese restaurant, Emerson’s gaze falls on Perry the busboy. Who after he’s been killed by yet another exploding steamer, tells them he’s an insurance investigator, who was trying to find out why Bao took life insurance the very day before he died.
It transpires that Bao didn’t only lose all his money gambling, but he also lost the hand of his daughter, Mei, playing food poker. Chief suspect for Bao’s death now appears to be gambling gangster, Shrimp Boy; but how can Emerson get past his large bodyguards?
The answer in typical Daisies style involves bladder bursting green tea and undercover craziness. When the cards are finally revealed, the real culprit turns out to be Robbie, the manager of the restaurant and Mai’s future husband, given away by the fragrant aroma of a pork bun he used to cheat. His future is ‘to go’, metaphorically.
This was better than Episode 4 but still not up there with the flying nuns, and still no darling mermaids! It was also rather Emerson-concentric. The return of Simone was a welcome change, and I know she’s back for Episode 12 ‘Water & Power’, so it’s not the last we’ll see of the pouting Christine Adams.
Next week Vivian returns, or so the cast list tells me. And about time too.
Check out Mark’s review of the previous episode here.