”Pushing Daisies” recap: Too much sweetness
Okay, raise your hand: Who else got completely hoodwinked by tonight’s time-slot change? I like my pie at 8 p.m., not 9, so the holiday switcheroo had me starting out this episode seriously cranky. Nothing to cheer me up then, like Ned’s First Boarding School Friend. Tonight, our young one found a fellow freak (and an odd parallel with The CW’s Aliens in America) when he was paired up with a boy we can only call Indian Kid with Headgear. How briefly those freak flags flew, however, before Ned jumped jauntily into a pile of fall leaves and brought them instantly back to life, thus scaring the pee out of his only new friend, and learning tonight’s important life lesson: ”Happiness born of passion is always short-lived.” Personally, I preferred Emerson’s ”The truth isn’t like a bunch of puppies running around, and you get to pick your favorite” as far as thoughts to cross-stitch on a pillow go — and, come to think of it, Chuck’s ” ‘Hello’ is just a way of saying, ‘I’m here, your turn to talk’ ” — but I digress.
So there were old faces (the return of the herbal-remedies man, so hopelessly smitten with Olive) and new (comedy vets Mike White and Molly Shannon as slightly deranged brother-sister confectioners), the absence of two regulars (the aunts), and the promised return in the preview of a very special guest (Paul Reubens). This also was the first episode in which the usual murder was so secondary to the plot that it was solved before the first 15 minutes were up. Though, granted, it was interesting to learn, from this week’s dead guy and his girlfriend, that even in the magical, boundary-less land of Coeur d’Coeurs, wherever it may be, there are still people who walk, talk, and drop their r‘s just like it’s New Jersey.
It was also a week of many pop-culture references, including Chuck’s wild ”Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves” homage to mid-’70s Cher in her tunic and wild glasses and Molly Shannon’s extended revisit to The Birds in full Tippi Hedren drag. Clearly, somebody at Daisies loves Hitchcock. Also, wasn’t it hard not to think of Lars and the Real Girl, still in theaters, when we met Burly Bruce and his blow-up-doll girlfriend? And Chuck and Olive in their slinky super-spy catsuits, introducing ”inappropriate vermin” to the Bittersweet Taffy Shop’s kitchen, was pure The Avengers meets Charlie’s Angels. It was fun to see Shannon, as Dilly Balsam, a blond, taffy-scented über-bitch, chew up the scenery like a week-old Bit-O-Honey, though, as always, it wasn’t much distinguishable from her usual cast of one-taco-short characters.
(I know you guys hate it when I get too wrapped up in the plausibility of this Technicolor fantasy, but have any of you quick-draws bothered to time these supposed one-minute revivals of Ned’s? I swear in some episodes it feels like a good two and a half minutes before the Corpse of the Week’s time is up.)
Of course our Lesson of the Week was pressed home throughout by Ned’s struggle to tell Chuck that he accidentally killed her father; his erroneous arrest for the candy-vat death of Dilly’s brother allowed him to suffer in an actual prison, not just one made of feelings. Alas, that left Olive still pent up in her own unrequited love (though hissing out her aversion to hearing about Ned and Chuck’s love life with the latter probably provided some relief); she switched her affections too late from Ned to the herbal guy, supposedly back on the road dealing his parsley and sage. It also allowed for Ned’s triumphant return from jail, however, and a lovely moment of pure bromance between him and Emerson, who was miserable having to do his job ”the old-fashioned way” anyhow.
The second murder scenario wrapped up tidily enough with the discovery of the health inspector’s guilt, followed very shortly by his death by Dilly, but what did you make of Ned’s Tourette’s-like confession to Chuck? It’s not like she can suddenly start withholding sex to punish him, but seriously, it’s hard to tell whether the show is setting us up for a one-episode arc of Ned explaining, Chuck forgiving, and love resuming, or perhaps this won’t be resolved until the writers’ strike is too. And will Chuck confess to Pee-wee, who seemed to smell her ultimate secret? Either way, we’ll have to wait an extra week this time to see. The show doesn’t return until Dec. 12.
Got any thoughts on those issues, or others? Post them below!