Sunday, August 19, 2007

TV WATCH 2007 (3)

I am in awe of Bryan Fuller.
Wouldn’t you be? Not only did he bring us the unjustly cancelled Wonderfalls, but he also worked on the first season of Heroes (having written “Collision” and the astounding “Company Man”)*, and brought The Amazing Screw-On Head (review in Archive) to zany animated life.
Now he’s at the helm of Pushing Daisies, one of the best new series of this coming season.

“This was the moment young Ned realized he wasn’t like the other children, nor was he like anyone else, for that matter. Young Ned could touch dead things and bring them back to life.
“This touch was a gift given to him, but not by anyone in particular. There was no box, no instructions, no manufacturer’s warranty. It just was.”

At a young age, Ned (Lee Pace, from Wonderfalls) discovers that he can bring the dead back to life with a touch. There are, however, rules to his “gift” (which I won’t disclose here to try and save the suspense; though said rules are outlined in the first five minutes of the Pilot, they do have long-term ramifications that serve to inform the Pilot and the series as a whole).
In the wake of Ned’s discovery, he is parted from his first love, Charlotte (though he calls her “Chuck”; Anna Friel, from the Goal! films and the upcoming Bathory, where she plays the Blood Countess herself, Elizabeth Bathory). Years later (but still as a direct result of that childhood incident), he opens a restaurant called “The Pie Hole,” where he bakes exquisite pies and has a lucrative partnership with a local PI, Emerson Cod (Boston Public’s Chi McBride).

To say any more would cheat the show’s potential audience of the poignant wonder Pushing Daisies holds.
I can say this though: Fuller’s script is narrated from start to finish by Jim Dale, in a very conscious fairy tale styling. And the look of the show—which recalls the technicolour Fantasia of Tim Burton, circa Big Fish—mirrors that fairy tale motif to a tee.
Small wonder then, that the Pilot’s director is Barry Sonnenfeld, whose Addams Family films proved that he could be Burton when you couldn’t have the real Burton.
And if that isn’t enough to tantalize and to pique your curiosity, the supporting cast also includes Ellen Greene (Sylar’s kooky mom on Heroes) and Swoosie Kurtz (Locke’s kooky mom on Lost) as Chuck’s aunts, and Kristen Chenoweth (Running with Scissors and Stranger Than Fiction; reviews for both in the Archive) as Olive Snook, waitress at The Pie Hole, who lives in the apartment next to Ned’s.

The Pushing Daisies Pilot is a wonderful, heartfelt hour of life, death, and what should, by all rights fall squarely in the middle of those two extremes, love.
It’s funny, and moving, and smart. It’s vintage Bryan Fuller, and you have got to see this show.

* Over the course of Heroes Season 1, Bryan Fuller wrote most of the Claire scenes. Anyone who’s checked the Iguana out in the past will know that Claire is one of my favorite characters on the show, who also had, I feel, one of the most satisfying character arcs in the first season. I’ve also long maintained that Hayden Panettiere is one of the best of the show’s ensemble.
So thanx to Mr. Fuller, for giving Hayden all those great scenes to work on, and for helping shape a great character.

Parting shot: I never got the chance to see Dead Like Me, Bryan Fuller’s other show, though I’ve heard lots of good things about it.

(Images courtesy of abc,, and

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