Posts filed under 'Pushing Daisies'

Pushing Daisies and Kings: What’s Wrong with People?

I woke up on Sunday with a start. I ran to my TV and immediately checked my TiFaux. I sighed with relief—everything had recorded as I intended.

I was worried, because I didn’t realize until that morning that, for the first time, Pushing Daisies and Kings were actually airing on the same night. I was afraid that they were even in the exact same time slot—and that one would bump the other off the record schedule—but Kings is on at 8 pm, and Pushing Daisies wasn’t on until 10.

Sadly, this will never happen again. Pushing Daisies is officially over. Kings still has a few episodes to go—if NBC will forgive its dismal-even-for-Saturday ratings—and then it joins Pushing Daisies in the category of “Shows I Like, Canceled.”

Which brings me to my question: What’s wrong with people? Why didn’t these shows catch on?

Kings I can almost understand. If you don’t love it the way I do, it would be unbearable. You can’t just dip into an episode and half-pay-attention and expect to follow what’s going on. Still, I’m surprised that it didn’t develop a nerdfollowing niche, the way Dollhouse—which is a lesser show on almost every level—has. When I watch Kings, I actually feel refreshed. I love that it gives me something that no other TV series possibly can. I really enjoy the crazy world, the weird pretentious way the characters speak, the alternate history (I’d love to see an episode that took place before Silas was king and everything was chaos), the fact that God is actually a character, and, most of all, the king in the basement. I especially love that I can tell the creators’ vision of the show is so complete, but I have absolutely no idea where it’s going. It’s not like House, where you wince every time they go to the MRI machine because you know that the patient is going to freak out inside of it. So, I really want to know: Why wasn’t anyone else as taken in as I was? Was it the difficult language? The melodrama? The heavy history?

Pushing Daisies at least was critically beloved, but I don’t understand why it wasn’t a huge hit. It was pretty, the stars were adorable—and, for TV, recognizable—and it really didn’t challenge its audience too much. I could see people of any age really getting into it. Sure, the mysteries were a little thin. But I didn’t watch it for that, I just wanted to hear the quick banter and melt with the love stories. (For people who love will-they-or-won’t-they romances, at least this show had a good excuse for why their stars never kiss.) I also love the colorful world of Coeur d’Coeurs, with all those luscious pies. So, what was wrong with it? Did the mysteries not involve enough forensic evidence? Were you turned off by the quirkiness? Did they speak too fast? Was it too cute? Do you hate love, and things that are lovely?

Really, if you hated one of these shows, I want to hear from you, because I don’t understand you. Tell me: What’s wrong with you?

To me, both of these shows were precious because they were unlike anything else on television. I really hope that wasn’t their undoing in the end. I’m not sure I want to be on the TV beat when every single show is about investigators, hospital employees (new show ideas: Physician’s Assistant Josie! Courier Bob!), and over-privileged teenagers.

7 comments June 18th, 2009

The Best of Everything: Maggie’s List of Things

2008 was a little rough for the tube. I’m hoping for good things in 2009 — the return of many favorites, and maybe even some new shows to get behind!

My Favorite Thing of the Year, and Also The Only Good New Thing

The writers’ strike was a depressing time for everyone: no work for writers, no TV for us. And it had long-term repercussions, including the current dearth of high-quality new programming. But the writers’ strike did bring us one amazing thing: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. With Neil Patrick Harris as a geeky singing evil-do-er, Nathan Fillion as a smarmy strongman, Felicia Day charming us all, and the funniest script of the year, Joss Whedon & Family have made the internet work the way it’s supposed to.

Let’s do the math: The entire musical (42 minutes, the length of your average one-hour TV show) is available online for free. I watch it repeatedly (free for me, indeterminate ad revenue for them). I buy it on iTunes to carry around on my iPhone ($5.99). I (maybe someday) buy the soundtrack on iTunes ($9.99). I get the DVD — featuring a WHOLE NEW musical commentary track, Commentary! The Musical — for Christmas ($14.99). One day I hope to buy Commentary! The Musical on iTunes, in which case they’ll get another $9.99 out of me. Basically, they hooked me with their awesome free entertainment, and subsequently I will buy whatever they want me to. Creatively and business-wise, excellent job all-around.

Also thank you for NPH’s delivery of the line “Emails!” which is how I say that word now.

Best Episode That Everyone Else Likes, Too

There’s not a lot of “event” TV any more; we’re all off in our little corners, watching TV on our laptops and twittering about facebook videos or something. So it was a rare feeling, watching Lost’s “The Constant,” and knowing in your gut that lots of other people saw it and liked it all at the same time. (You can watch it via ABC’s extremely annoying propriety video player here.) I like Lost episodes that play with the form (I admit to being a fan of the Nikki and Paolo episode), and this one played it up while finding an emotionally resonant story that built tension in the best possible way. It’s the only time this year that I was literally on the edge of my seat.

Best TV Show to Help You Deal With Your Crazy Family

The BBC America import Gavin and Stacey follows the courtship and marriage of geographically diverse Gavin and Stacey, but it’s really about their bizarre collection of relatives and friends. There’s the sincere to the point of madness Uncle Brin, the sensitive and emotional best friend Smithy, the panicked mother Pam, the dry and shock-proof best friend Nessa — this is a group of people that should not get along. They have absolutely nothing in common. And yet, for the sake of Gav and Stace, they willingly place themselves in the same room over and over again. And they end up having a pretty good time.

Diamond in the Rough Award

I’ve already talked a lot about how under-appreciated Greek is, but it’s worth saying again. This year, it was a show that I never felt hesitant about switching on — it was always going to be a treat. I don’t know if their writers aren’t in the union (it is on ABC Family, after all) or if it’s a quirk of scheduling, but they managed to put out great shows in even this year’s darkest strike-dimmed months. Yes, it is an hour-long dramedy about the running of fraternities and sororities at a fake college. But it’s also surprisingly funny and sweet. This is a show about young people that doesn’t take itself too seriously (cough-GOSSIP GIRL!-cough) and so manages to make us actually care about what happens to the characters.

Runner up: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I don’t think we need to apologize for this show. But I’ll do it anyway: sure, it’s sometimes a little on the nose, and I wish there weren’t such a steady stream of time-travelers (otherwise why not just overwhelm us with them?), but overall it’s weird and dramatic and I like it. So there.

The Wish-for-More-Wishes Award: Five Amazing Performances

And five words to sum them up.

Neil Patrick Harris in How I Met Your Mother: Scheming sleaze hides sensitive heart.

Kristin Chenowith in Pushing Daisies: Itty Bitty has big voice.

Alec Baldwin in 30 Rock: Every line delivery absolutely perfect.

Stephen Colbert in The Colbert Report: Crazy person bends truth, reality.

Jennifer Carpenter in Dexter: Duped foul-mouth best sister ever.

1 comment January 8th, 2009

2008: Best performance by a body part

heidi-klum-on-project-runway

2008 saw a lot of great performances by whole bodies. Tina Fey couldn’t have told a lot of funny jokes if she hadn’t been able to say them with her mouth. And learned the lines by reading them with her eyes. And walked to the studio with her legs.

But there are some body parts that worked overtime this year, picking up the slack where other body parts just took up room (I’m looking at you Ellen Pompeo’s forehead!).

As such, let’s take a quick vote — which TV body part deserves recognition for its Outstanding Achievement in Being a TV Star Body Part? Let me know in the comments if I’ve left off a deserving part. Otherwise, going clockwise from the left…

Which body part gave the best performance in 2008?
View Results

1 comment January 7th, 2009

The Best of Everything: Marisa’s List for 2008

Ooh! Ooh! My turn! My turn! My five favorite things:

5. How I Met Your Mother‘s Sly References to My Life

I realize that this may not interest anyone but me, but that’s why it’s at No. 5. And I also realize that a lot of people also say, “That show is just like my LIFE!” when, in fact, the similarities are not all that impressive. (Wow, you wear overpriced clothes and guzzle down pink drinks at horrible, sceney bars? You’re just like the people on Sex and the City.) In fact, if you’re around my age, and especially if you’re my age and you live in New York, there are probably a lot of things about How I Met Your Mother that resemble situations from your life.

But there are a couple really, really specific references to my life in How I Met Your Mother, and I love seeing them turn up. The first is that the creator went to my college, and he’s always including little nods to the alma mater. At first it was just a college tee-shirt here and there, until they finally admitted that the characters went to my school. But even better than the outright admission are the little references: For example, Marshall briefly worked at a law firm called Nicholson, Hewitt, and West—which happened to be the names of our three freshmen dorms.

But even better than that is my favorite reference of all—which, fine, happened in 2007, but like Dan I didn’t see the episode until 2008, so it counts—is the episode where they make fun of my favorite hometown amusement park: Rye Playland. In HIMYM it turns up as “Tuckahoe Funland,” probably because they make reference to a myriad of deaths that have happened there. Sadly, this is true for my park as well.

Click to continue reading “The Best of Everything: Marisa’s List for 2008”

3 comments January 6th, 2009

The best of everything: Dan’s list for 2008

The new year is upon us. And now we’ve got the hangovers and gym memberships and debt-free living self-help books to prove it. But at TiFaux, we’ve got our priorities in line.

Television first.

On that note, all this week we are going to look back at 2008 and examine the best of the year that was. And, in a cute little twist, we’re not doing our top five shows — we’re doing our top five anythings. This can be an entire year’s worth of one show, one actor’s performance, one funny joke, etc.  We’re mixing it up so we don’t end up all saying that 30 Rock is amazing in different wordings.

I’m up first because I’m a control freak. So, here we go…

Glenn Close and Zeljko Ivanek win Emmys for Damages

damagesThis was a series whose first season ended in 2007, but I only watched it in 2008 — that’s why I’m including it on this list. It’s my blog so I can do what I want. But I will try to make it timely by saying that Close and Ivanek won well-deserved Emmys this year. Which is true.

It’s easy to single out the performances as the greatest thing about Damages’ first season — but I think that would be inaccurate. The great thing about Damages was not only the taut pacing and menacing tone, but just how uncommonly focused the storytelling was. This was essentially a season-long movie, intricately written and planned, and slowly rolled out bit by riveting bit.

Damages’ success is the result of several elements synergizing — the strength of the performances (Close’s venom, Rose Byrne’s sweet deadpan, Zeljko Ivanek’s anguished expressions), savvy directing and writing that packs both an intellectual and emotional punch. I have no idea what they’re going to do for the second season (starting Wednesday!!), but I’m totally on board.

SNL: Virgania Horsen’s Hot Air Balloon Rides

This was really a great year for women on SNL. Admittedly, there weren’t that many of them (a freakishly low number, in fact), but all of them emerged as stars. Amy Poehler came into her own as a playful and goofy sprite (see the Sarah Palin rap),Tina Fey re-emerged in her well-publicized star turn as the would-be veep and Kristen Wiig began to cement her status as the show’s rising star.

And my favorite thing Wiig has ever done remains this fake commercial from the (fabulous) Fey-hosted episode that was the first one following the strike. Virgania Horsen (who returned with a Pony Express commercial this season) is a mix of bizarre and oddly loveable, selling her hot air balloon rides with all the enthusiasm of an awkward fifth grader trying to give a rousing book report.

It’s all about delivery in this sketch (with some support from delightfully shoddy special effects), and Wiig nails it with the awful posture and stilted delivery.

The set design on Pushing Daisies

daisiesThere’s a lot to love on Pushing Daisies — the tart dialogue, the adorableness of Kristin Chenowith and Lee Pace, and the fun storylines. But what ties everything together is the show’s wonderful technicolor aesthetic. The colors are bright and the sets aren’t restricted by realism. There’s so much packed into every shot — it’s truly a case of “more is more.” The look of the show (including the costuming) makes everything work — instantly allowing you to suspend your disbelief.

New horror series: Dead Set and True Blood

The two best series of 2008 (for my money) both had their flaws. Dead Set was a mini-series that didn’t even air on American TV (and I probably didn’t understand half the pop culture references). And True Blood revealed itself to be the slightly slow, sex-obsessed cousin of Six Feet Under.

But these two horror-inspired shows (zombies and vampires, respectively) were the best new series to emerge out of 2008 — a vast wasteland as far as new programming goes. Dead Set had a run of five episodes, but I’ll continue to watch True Blood for its campy sense of humor and the creepy mysteries of this alternate reality world (even though they killed off the only guy who had a good accent).

Lecherously watching men’s water polo during the Olympics

I mean, come on.

January 5th, 2009

Because We REALLY Love You

December 5th, 2008

Maybe Ned Can Touch It…

The Hollywood Reporter is saying that Pushing Daisies isn’t getting picked up for any more episodes. They haven’t said the word “cancel,” so maybe its prospects aren’t totally dead. (Denial.) I don’t know why the assholes at ABC wouldn’t try to help it at all, by moving it to a different night, or re-running the 9 episiodes it had over the summer while NOTHING ELSE WAS ON. (Anger.) Maybe there could be a home for it on cable? (Bargaining.) It would be too awful for it to be gone for good. (Depression.) But, in reality, it probably is. (Acceptance.)

“If we are indeed dead on ABC,” Fuller told THR, “we now have to convince DC Comics to let us tell the rest of the season’s story lines out in comic book form and convince Warner Bros. features to let Pushing Daisies live again as a movie.”

I think those are horrible ideas.

I’m the show’s No. 1 fan, but I don’t want to see a comic book or a movie. I watch Pushing Daisies for these reasons:

1) To see pretty sets unlike others on television, with saturated colors and weird fantasy elements like old-timey cars.

2) To hear the stars deliver smart, funny lines at lightning speed.

3) Because Lee Pace is totally hot.

None of those would translate to a comic book. The look of the show is totally original for television, but kinda boring when it comes to the comic-book universe, where people can wear capes and fly. You can write as much as you can fit a word-bubble, so it’s not as impressive to hear the characters manipulate wordy dialogue. And cartoons are never as hot as the real deal, otherwise Aladdin would’ve been People‘s “Sexiest Man Alive” in 1992.

Nobody I know watches Pushing Daisies for the mysteries, which are totally easy to figure out (the boss did it!), or to find out if Emerson is going to be reunited with his daughter. He either will or he won’t. The outcome isn’t as important as watching him get to it.

As for a movie, I’m against it in principle. The X-Files and Sex and the City post-cancellation movies this summer really killed the idea for me. They both had this desperate need to cram in characters for the fans. (Did Charlotte do ANYTHING in the movie? Why was she there?) Since they’re never really as good as the original shows, I’d rather a series I like end on a great episode as opposed to a mediocre movie.

RIP, PD!

7 comments November 21st, 2008

This Week’s Observations

I’ve noticed some things this week while watching TV. Not anything that’s worthy of its own post, but perhaps all laid out together they will amount to something. There’s a funny video at the end!

  • Why does Pushing Daisies keep putting Chuck in those hideous high-waisted pants? She belongs in adorable full-skirted dresses with matching scarves. No to high-waisted pants! No!
  • John Corzine on the Daily Show? More like John BORE-zine. (Genius.)
  • Why is House so upset about Cuddy’s adopting? Is he jealous? Lonely? Does he wish he could’ve made her pregnant himself?
  • Everyone’s been saying this, but How I Met Your Mother could really slow things down a bit. I feel like Ted got engaged yesterday, and now everything’s status quo. At least Barney is taking his redemption at a reasonable pace (one step forward, two steps back).
  • Has anyone besides me and Kyle been watching Gavin and Stacey on BBC America? It is delightful. Sometimes, either due to accent or UK-ishness, I don’t understand what’s going on, but that’s part of the fun. However, none of the characters seem to think ahead about anything. If you get married and move, you will not be able to live in your old house and keep your old crap, too. Stacey’s the worst at this. But whatever. It’s the Nessa and Pam and Bryn show as far as I’m concerned. Also: Move out of your parents’ house, you crazy kids.
  • My love affair with Life on Mars may have ended yesterday, after only three episodes. Pull it together, Life on Mars! I liked it with the good music and the crazy clothes and the anachronisms. I don’t like the speechiness.
  • At least if you’re dating Michael Scott you’ll totally know if/when he’s lying to you, and he’ll be extremely up front about his intentions/expectations. I suppose that’s a benefit to having no filter.
  • Don’t read the next sentence if you don’t want to see one joke from next week’s 30 Rock. My personal favorite, mostly thanks to Alec Baldwin’s amazing delivery: “I worked the day shift at the graveyard and the graveyard shift at the Day’s Inn.”
  • Still love: Greek. On the fence: Dirty Sexy Money. Probably dropping: Heroes.
  • And here’s your video, via Videogum:

1 comment October 24th, 2008

We Mean It This Time

Pushing Daisies, aka my favorite show right now, is on tonight. Like all of my favorite shows, the ratings are, how you say, not so good. So when I say WATCH IT TONIGHT (8:00, ABC), I really mean it. It’ll be a fuzzy, adorable warm-up to the cold, ugly presidential debate.

If you have not yet been exposed to the magic of Pushing Daisies, here’s a five-minute video to catch you up on everything you need to know.

Also, I read on Ask Ausiello that, in a future episode, Olive Snook will sing “Eternal Flame.” You have to have a cold heart  to not be interested in that.

October 15th, 2008

It’s Back! I <3 Pushing Daisies!

My favorite new show of last year, Pushing Daisies, returns tonight. My friend promised she’d have a Pushing Daisies Premiere Party, complete with three different kinds of pie. I suggest you do the same. Not just watch the show, I mean, but find a friend that will bake you pies. This will be helpful to you in ways that have nothing to do with television.

Anyway, according to The Pie Maker, tonight’s episode finds Chuck going undercover in a honey-based cosmetics company. In the kooky world of Pushing Daisies, I expect that everyone working for said company will either be: a) wearing a beehive or, b) dressed up like the girl from the Blind Melon video. Either way, I can’t wait.

In keeping with the pie theme, and to get you all as excited as I am for the show’s return, I present to you the Pushing Daisies recipe for great TV:

2 parts adorable stars
Lee Pace and Anna Friel succeed in melting my heart every week. Add in Kristen Chenoweth and Chi McBride, and even Swoosie Kurtz and Ellen Greene, and you have a cast that kind of makes me want to pinch their collective cheek.

3 parts pretty colors
Let’s face it: Most TV is…drab. Finally, this one offers up a little visual stimulation. The color palette is basically the show’s sixth star and helps create the ultra-cool half-reality, half-fantasy world that Pushing Daisies lives in. What would Coeur d’Coeurs be without all those bright sunflowers?

1 part brand new shiny Emmy
Barry Sonnenfeld won a directing Emmy for the show’s “pie-lette.” I personally watched the pilot about six times—forcing anyone within reach to watch it with me—so this really feels like a personal triumph.

1 dash of happiness, love
For some reason, most of my favorite shows try, at least a little, to make me sad. (I’m looking at you, The Office.) Even though Pushing Daisies is all about death, and some of the poor victims meet their ends gruesomely, I don’t think the show is out to depress me. I think the reaction they’re really going after is: “Aww.” And, every week, I’m more than happy to oblige.

That’s it, folks. Pushing Daisies is on tonight, 8:00, on ABC. Don’t forget the ice cream.

2 comments October 1st, 2008

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