Pushing Daisies Is Best Watch on TV Today
By McGee Noble
Death is a funny thing. We are quite rightly fascinated by this weird, I mean WEIRD thing in which one day, even though it seems impossible, all this will not be…well, this. Most of the time it’s easy not to think about it, I mean we have coffee, avoiding the smelly guy on the bus, making sure you meet your targets at work, stopping at Tesco’s, cooking dinner, sleeping. Most of the time death hides in a little corner of our brain, while we get on with the whole stinky business of living.
Not so for Bryan Fuller. You probably haven’t heard of him, and I would like to fix that. So, introductions: Bryan Fuller: these are onthebox readers; readers, this is Bryan Fuller. Who? You say… Fuller is a TV death junkie, whose fascination with how life is shaped by death led to the creation of cult comedy Dead Like Me in which young slacker Georgina’s (George) life is brutally cut short by a flying toilet seat from space. Somewhat unfairly, life for George is replaced by an afterlife which is uncannily similar to the mundane, office job leading, aimless existence she had before death, only now she’s a grim reaper. It’s a show about grief and comedy, and its unique perspective seems to tap into a sense of wonder and strangeness, as well as melancholy that death brings. Great show obviously canned after 2 seasons.
However Bryan Fuller has not let us down, but returned with a more audience friendly and now proper hit show Pushing Daisies (Saturday, ITV1, 9.05pm) Again, death shapes the story. Ned is a pie maker, a sweet loner who runs ‘The Pie Hole’. What makes him such a loner is that he has the power to bring the dead back to life. Unfortunately, if they live longer than a minute, this comes with the consequence of someone else nearby dying in the resurrected person’s place. This is a big help to private detective Emerson Cod, who uses Ned to wake murder victims for one minute so he can find out who killed them and collect the bounty. All is dandy until Ned brings back to life his childhood sweetheart Chuck (our very own Anna Friel, read her interview here). Hopelessly in love and yet unable to touch, so begins one of the most wonderful romances on TV for years.
There’s a good whack of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with the charming surrealism of Amelie, and yet this isn’t a squeakingly sugary fantasy. It’s more like an inquisitive existential mystery hidden in a fairy tale. Inventive, imaginative and yet strangely real, it breaks all the rules and does it with grace. Fuller doesn’t hammer home the death and grief and yet its there, slipped in to the background, pulling the fantastical down to earth.
It’s taken the U.S. by storm, which surprised just about everyone in the universe. Critics love it, men want to shower it with presents and women want to have its babies. And Bryan Fuller is probably sitting back chuckling, because while the rest of the time its easy not to think about it, he’s made us all pull death out of the little cupboards in our brains and look it in the face for a while. And for a moment Fuller makes it look right back. Then we can laugh at it, turn the telly off and go back to our normal, stinky business, knowing that there’s coffee, public transport and work to keep us occupied in the meantime. And Fuller’s work is done.
So, if you missed the first episode on Saturday night, then go out of your way to catch a repeat on ITV2 at 9pm tonight and make friends with our man Fuller. He’s got some interesting stuff to say.
Read what Anna Friel has to say about it here.