Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The End of: Pushing Daisies

ABC’s dazzlingly colorful and original series got axed last fall along with “Eli Stone” and “Dirty Sexy Money.” All three shows will spool out their final three filmed episodes Saturday nights at 10pm this summer, hardly a fitting tribute to their sharp premises and devoted fan followings. “Pushing Daisies” is probably the most interesting for me since I don’t watch “Eli Stone” and “Dirty Sexy Money,” despite some very strong episodes, was always a touch ridiculous. “Pushing Daisies,” on the other hand, put its fantasy disclaimer right out there from the start, and its characters and trademarks became reliable and fun. These last three episodes don’t represent any of the truly fantastic episodes of “Pushing Daisies” like “The Fun in Funeral,” “Pigeon,” and “Dim Sum Lose Some,” but they’re still pretty good.

“Window Dressed to Kill” was slightly confusing because of the number of possible villains and weak because the case itself wasn’t terribly engaging. It did, however, contain two elements that speak to the show as a greater entity, an all the more tragic discovery since the show has no more room or possibility to develop or grow. The first involves the camera, and it’s yet one more instance of the stunning cinematography this show uses. The camera zooms in to show the culprit the narrator has just described, but then flies behind him to another, and then to another, and another. It’s wonderfully goofy but doesn’t feel too childish, and it’s always been fun to piece together all the little mysteries of this show and see who’s loyal to whom. The second aspect of the episode that was intriguing and ideally could have been used is Ned’s comparison of himself to Superman, who he realizes he does in fact have the potential to be towards the end of the episode. It’s a fun parallel, and emphasizes the fact that Ned really is an unusual type of hero. Ned’s romance with Olive, on the other hand, is old news, and the revelation of his twinge of jealousy at the end of the episode didn’t seem to lead anywhere, for good reason. Olive’s singing, however, is something that this show could never have used enough of, since it’s a wonderfully tangential distraction from the (occasional) serious of the cases.

“Water and Power” was one of those episodes where wordplay was crucial to the show’s humor, and every single character downplayed it, which I think made it work without being annoying. Investigations at the damn Papen County Dam were particularly interesting because Emerson was so closely and personally involved with the case, and his history with ex-wife Lila is revealed along the way. I enjoyed Emerson’s rivalry with the dead owner, and just hearing every talk so stoically about their positions at the dam. Lila as a not-quite-villain was terrific, played by the fairly underused Gina Torres, and I also liked the inclusion of Simone (Christine Adams), whose affection for Emerson had her tailing along and making sure everything went according to plan. I like the team of Olive and Randy, Emerson and Simone, Ned and Chuck which has just been formed and which Ned tried to unite again in the last episode. Lila’s ultimate departure and trickery of Emerson is unfortunate, since it really would have been nice to see the two of them meet. Also lamentable: the momentary introduction of the fantastic Robert Picardo as a rival investigator whose recurring presence of the show would have been simply stellar.

The final episode, “Kerplunk,” was a fine episode, and served as a decent closing finale. It got the Darling Mermaid Darlings back in the water, and in a clever way, having them attend a show in honor of Chuck and then killing off one of the swimmers by means of shark food. The episode used its guest cast tremendously, including master of ceremonies Joey Slotnick (Nip/Tuck, Alias), selfish swimmer Wendie Malick (Just Shoot Me), and foolish husband Josh Hopkins (Swingtown). The team going undercover, including Olive and Emerson in matching neon track suits and Ned as a suit-wearing manager, was the best part and will forever serve as an example of the fun this show could have had over and over in the future. Chuck’s excited yammering and bright lipstick could have been a preview of a new Chuck with a new take on how she was going to face the world. Chuck’s reunion with her aunts wasn’t quite seen by the audience, but it did lead to a proper 2-minute summation of where the show might have gone after its cancellation. Emerson’s reunion with his daughter is fitting, as is Olive’s opening of a cow-shaped restaurant. The most fitting part, however, is the closing note that, as everyone knows, ends are just the beginning. I can’t think of another way that this show could have ended, especially in such a short time frame. It’s too bad we’ll never see any more of these characters, since this really was the most delightfully inventive and unique show I’ve ever seen. It didn’t always work marvelously, but when it did, it was indeed marvelous.

Season grade: B+
Window Dressed to Kill: B
Water and Power: B
Kerplunk: B+
Series grade: B+
Season MVP: Chi McBride
Series MVP: Kristin Chenoweth

For those interested, “Dirty Sexy Money” returns on Saturday, July 18th at 10pm with the clip-show-style episode “The Facts” that never aired, followed by the unaired final three episodes. “Eli Stone” starts this coming Saturday night, but I won’t be watching or covering it.

1 comment:

G1000 said...

Quirky, original shows never last long, which is why I'm so scared for "Glee". Why is it that audiences would rather watch tired old "CSI" clones instead of something truly original? I don't get it. (By the way, I gave up on "Daisies" midway through its first season. I liked it at first, but the plots started getting contrived. Maybe I missed out. Got to to check it out again on DVD.)