Screensavors: Heavenly touch, deathly kiss

Pushing Daisies is bound to leave you dreaming and craving pie.

daisy 88 (photo credit: )
daisy 88
(photo credit: )
Ok, so there's this guy who, as a kid, learns that he can bring anything back to life with nothing more than his touch. That's right, he can resurrect the dead. But, hold on now, if he touches them again, they die again, forever. However, now bear with me, if he, doesn't touch the reliving within a minute then someone else dies in their stead. And, what he has brought back to life remains alive unless he touches it a second time. The guy is Ned and the show's a comedy. If the plot sounds like a magical fairy-tale, you're right. Bryan Fuller, who created Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me, also created the critically acclaimed, Golden Globe winning show Pushing Daisies, a show oozing gleaming colors and fantastical storylines - not to mention the acting, directing and dialogue. The story revolves around Ned (Lee Pace), the owner of The Pie Hole, where the pies are divine because the pie maker's touch revives rotting fruit with bursting flavor. His life as the pie maker though is complicated when he meets Emerson Cod (Chi McBride), a private investigator who haplessly discovers Ned's secret. Emerson convinces Ned to help him solve murder cases (and collect the hefty reward monies) by raising the dead to ask them of their demise - in just under a minute. The pilot episode tells us of the case that changes Ned's life. His childhood sweetheart, Charlotte "Chuck" Charles (Anna Friel), is murdered at sea. Her death brings him back to his hometown to touch Chuck, hear her end story, touch her again, solve the crime and collect the reward. But, once reunited, Ned can't bring himself to send her back and Chuck becomes the third partner in Ned and Emerson's enterprise. Ned is overjoyed with the return of Chuck, the only girl he's ever loved. Life would be perfect, except that should they ever touch she'll die, again, for good. The plot twists even further as we meet Olive Snook (Kristin Chenoweth), the waitress at The Pie Hole. She is in love with Ned and rather unhappy with Chuck's presence. However, the two women bond, a bit, over Chuck's two aunts, Lily and Vivian (Swoosie Kurtz, Ellen Greene), current shut-ins and former synchronized swimmers, who assume that Chuck is gone forever. Also, there's, Digby, Ned's dog and the first thing he ever revived. Obviously he can never touch him again and pets him with a prosthetic hand. Ned and Chuck's unrequited love is the basis to the fairy tale. Ned never regrets bringing Chuck back, despite Emerson's objections and Olive's sulking. Their attempts at contact through different means of protection is the most romantic relationship to be seen on screen in a long time. But the source of the show's magic goes well beyond just all this. Like any great fairy tale, this one is narrated, courtesy of Jim Dale (from the Harry Potter audiobook series). The show's design is a "storybook come to life," production designer Michael Wylie says, with the style reminiscent of such films as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Addams Family. Not too surprising given that pilot episode was directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, who directed the latter and Men In Black. The cast does a splendid job in delivering the witty, Rohald Dahl-esque, script. Friel and Pace are intoxicatingly lovable as Ned and Chuck and McBride a spot-on private dick - cynically balancing out the saccharine-sweet duo. Kurtz and Greene are incredible as the two fine-cheese aficionado aunts with Greene's matriarch reminiscent of her Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors, and Kurtz amazing as the one-eyed, possibly alcoholic, cynic. Additionally the guest stars continue to impress and include such greats as Paul Reubens a.k.a. Pee Wee Herman, SNL's Molly Shannon and Oscar nominated Barbara Barrie. The show is not without its flaws, of course. The baffling murder cases, such as a polygamist dog breeder killed by either one of his wives or a competitive dog breeder hoping to clone his prize dog, may seem a bit tedious at times, but in the end it doesn't seem to matter. Even if you were to watch just a few episodes, the show will leave its mark upon you, leaving you flabbergasted and, most important, happy - magically happy. Pushing Daisies is offered on YES Stars 1 on Tuesday at 9:15 p.m.