Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Season 1 Episode 5
Written by Katherine Lingenfelter
Directed by Peter O’Fallon

Being the Halloween installment of Pushing Daisies, this one plays like one of those apparently supernatural revenge deals that turns out to be a Scooby-Doo episode.
Hmm. Now that I think about it, this plays like Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow, minus the overly Gothic Hammer touches and the flying heads.
Despite that less-than-flattering description though, this turns out to be another great episode, and certainly a better viewing experience than Sleepy Hollow.

The whodunit plot involves Olive’s past as a prize-winning jockey (winner of the… wait for it… Jock-Off 2000), and the unfortunate death by trampling of John Joseph Jacobs (Groove’s Hamish Linklater, also seen on The New Adventures of Old Christine).
When the other jockeys from the Jock-Off 2000 wind up getting trampled by what they believe is the ghost of John Joseph Jacobs (complete with fire-breathing horse), Olive begins to fear for her life.
As it turns out though, and no big surprise here, the real killer is Mamma Jacobs (Barbara Barrie, from TV’s Barney Miller, Suddenly Susan, and Bryan Fuller’s past show, Dead Like Me), long embittered by her son’s ruined career.
And John Joseph isn’t really dead, though he is taller now…

Meanwhile, the episode’s subplot involves the childhood event that traumatized poor Ned into the Halloween-o-phobe he is today.
Halloween was when he found out that his father had moved on after his mother’s death. Moved on quite literally, to a new home, and a new wife, and a couple of new sons. (The scene with little Ned and Digby in make-shift ghost costumes made from blankets, as they stand outside Ned’s dad’s new home, while Ned’s dad walks away with his new family, is heart-breaking.)

Sure, this one’s got some hiccups: Mamma Jacobs actually took the time and effort to rig a horse with some fire-breathing apparatus? And in the climactic chase sequence, Olive and Chuck run out of the house? The killer’s on a horse, for Pete’s sake. This would have been a wonderful time to ignore Sidney Prescott’s words of wisdom and run up the stairs.
But hey, some of the best bits of Pushing Daisies are the personal bits after all, and here, we see Ned coming to terms with his Daddy issues (as Lost has proven, there’s always a lot of dramatic traction to be gained from Daddy issues).
And you gotta admit, Emerson’s imaginary phone call with the money is a riot.

(Image courtesy of pushing-daisies.com.)

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