Saturday, April 12, 2008
Anna Friel, like I just got home, Anna Friel...*
BRIGHT! Pushing Daisies, ITV1, 9.00pm
It's not what you think; I haven't found a way to post from the future. Not yet, anyway; it's just that I'm going to be away on Saturday, and I thought I could justify giving a little bit more airtime than usual to Pushing Daisies, given that it's one of ITV's most high-profile launches in ages.
Of course, Gossip Girl had a massive advertising push and it didn't really translate into bringing in the viewers in their millions, so it's very daring of ITV to push ahead with Pushing Daisies, which is arguably not even close to your typical ITV show, on a primetime slot on Saturday night no less. (I note with interest that it's directly after the series opener of Britain's Got Talent, so at least it stands to inherit a healthy audience, as long as it can hold onto it.) It's especially bold considering this is a show that's bound to be polarising: you'll either be charmed by its limitless sense of whimsy and innocence, or you'll be nauseated by all the pastel shades and the self-conscious tweeness.
Thankfully I'm in the former camp: I found the pilot episode enthralling. The show is utterly divorced from reality in every possible way, but it actually makes an asset of this - there's a sense that genuinely anything could happen on this show. For those of you unfamiliar with the extremely high concept: Piemaker Ned has an unusual gift, in that his touch can bring the dead back to life. But this gift has its limitations - if he touches that person again, they die permanently this time, and if he doesn't return the body to a dead state within a specified period of time, someone else dies in their place.
Ned's working in conjunction with a private eye, interrogating murder victims to collect the reward money, when he finds that one of the victims is his childhood sweetheart Chuck (short for Charlotte Charles, in case you were wondering). Having revived her, he finds he can't bring himself to let her die again - but this means any potential for romance with them is doomed, because one touch from Ned will kill Chuck forever.
That's what made the show work for me - that undercurrent of darkness that belies the kitsch visual style and the apple-pie sweetness. The show's cast is great too: Lee Pace is adorably awkward as Ned, Anna Friel captures Chuck's playfulness superbly and with a flawless American accent to boot, Kristen Chenoweth plays Olive Snook, the waitress with a doomed crush on Ned, Ellen Greene and Swoosie Kurtz play Chuck's oddball aunts (there's a fantastic visual gag involving Aunt Lily's missing eye, by the way) and my favourite character is Emerson Cod, the aforementioned shady PI, played by Chi McBride.
It's not going to be to everyone's taste, but I strongly recommend you give it a go. Just keep a pair of sunglasses next to the remote control, just in case a migraine kicks in.
*This joke is approximately eight years old, but I still couldn't resist using it. Sorry.