In the second episode of the first season of Pushing Daisies, the team tries to claim a reward on a hit and run, only to discover it may have been done by a crash test dummy. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Pushing Daisies.
OH MY GOD, THIS SHOW.
- There is a deliberate poetic nature to Pushing Daisies that I can’t ignore, and it’s one of the most literary shows I’ve seen for Mark Watches. (Obligatory mention of Princess Tutu, which does something similar in a different context. If you like fairy tales and meta about storytelling, PLEASE WATCH.) This is honestly like Jim Dale is narrating this fucked-up book to me, and I’m privileged enough to see the book as well. I honestly think that his narration is an integral part of the charm of this show, not just because it’s so pleasing. The deliberate use of the narrator to expand the world and the characters is what I like most.
- For example, there are two lovely and intimate scenes where the narrator lets us in on Emerson’s knitting obsession and Olive’s penchant for singing while alone. Pushing Daisies is inherently centered around Ned as the protagonist, but by structuring this show with a narrator at the helm, the writers find a way to delve into the other characters’ lives, to get us inside their hides, to expose their thoughts and feelings while they are alone. Television is obviously a visual medium, and that means it’s hard to convey internal dialogues, and yet Pushing Daisies has pulled this off.
- The show is also able to summarize the events of the previous episode without seeming condescending and insulting, and that’s another benefit of the narration. If you somehow missed the pilot, you could still watch “Dummy” and everything would make sense. Plus, the exposition in the cold open serves another purpose: to state very plainly that Ned is a lonely man because his life is full of secrets.
- However, we also get hints that he’s not that only character with secrets. Chuck openly states that she is not who people think she is; Emerson has a secret obsession with knitting; and Olive is secretly harboring an intense crush on Ned, which she only reveals to Emerson. Who then unceremoniously crushes her heart after stating that he knows for a fact that Ned feels something for Chuck that he definitely does not feel for Olive.
- This gives way to a scene. It’s a bit later, after the team goes to Dandy Lion Worldwide Industries, but it is a scene. It is when Kristin Chenoweth sings. It is when I melt. It is when “Hopelessly Devoted to You” gets a heartbreaking new context, and it is when I knew I would never recover from watching Pushing Daisies.
- YOU GOT KRISTIN CHENOWETH TO SING ON THE SHOW? NO ONE SPOILED THIS FOR ME, AND IT WAS GLORIOUS.
- Let’s talk about Dandy Lion. It is purposely portrayed as this colorful (and yet clinical) place that is ridiculously exaggerated. And I love it. This show has such a unique tone and style, and it’s part of why I’m drawn to it so quickly. This is not a chance for realism. Yeah, there were fantastical elements to Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me, but the art direction and cinematography firmly placed those shows in our familiar world. Here, however, the showrunners and behind-the-scenes cast construct these elaborate, showy sets, utilizing greenscreen to flesh out vibrant and colorful background shots, and it all combines to give us a very romantic, fantasy vibe to Pushing Daisies. AND THAT’S SO AWESOME.
- So, I’m terrible at making anything involving ~art~ or Photoshop, so I’m gonna need someone to make this for me. You know those things going around on Tumblr, those photos sets about OH NO I DID THE THING that reference Lemongrab? There is a perfect chance for one here. Because I need an image of Emerson saying to Ned in comic sans DO NOT DO THE THING when he’s thinking to himself that he doesn’t want Chuck to come along. And then a shot of Ned in the car with Chuck in the backseat and the words I AM GOING TO DO THE THING on it. And then a shot of Emerson staring at the car as it pulls up in front of Dandy Lion with HE BETTER NOT HAVE DONE THE THING on it. And then a shot of Emerson in Ned’s car in anger with Emerson yelling YOU DID THE THING. Because that’s all I could think of during that scene.
- Emerson has a pretty good reason for not wanting Chuck to come along, but she proves to be incredibly valuable over the course of “Dummy,” which is a deliberate inversion of my expectations for her character. She doesn’t get in the way, she’s not portrayed as being useless, and she instead is given her own motivations and desires that work towards the greater narrative. Like asking murder victims what their last desires were! In this case, if she hadn’t asked Bernard Slaybeck if he wanted anything, they wouldn’t have found their way to Jeanine. She also helped them break into Dandy Lion’s lab, and she was the one who found the crash test dummy without a face.
- Bryan Fuller has a thing about putting food into his scripts, doesn’t he? I am not complaining, except to say that I’ve been craving pie for over twenty-four hours at this point. Fuck.
- Anyway, I mentioned a few times now that the tortured romance between Ned and Chuck is the focal point of the show, but I don’t want to ignore how awesome the murder mystery is for this episode! It’s strange, surreal, and, at times, completely horrifying. Hell, “Dummy” has this amazing slasher/serial killer vibe towards the end when Jim Dale is narrating the origins of Mark Cole’s behavior. IT’S DONE SO FUCKING WELL, Y’ALL. And honestly, it’s really hard to pull off that sort of genre-switching, you know? But it’s done seamlessly, and it fits in with the larger narrative of “Dummy.” Bless!
- And then Ned and Chuck kiss through their plastic body bags, and I AM SO FUCKING DONE WITH YOU, PUSHING DAISIES. I love Jim Dale’s narration at this point, especially when he says that Ned realized he wanted to tell Chuck everything. Oh god, I don’t think he can go the entirety of the show without being honest with her. How is she going to take it? Honestly, it’s not like he killed her father on purpose, and she seems to appreciate the fact that she got to live with her aunts. I think Ned is expecting her to hate him, and I’m going to predict that she won’t react poorly once she does find out.
- On top of this, the big twist is that Olive’s desire to go find Ned is what saved him, Emerson, and Chuck from certain death. I’m really enjoying the fact that Olive’s portrayal here is far more sympathetic than it was in “Pie-lette.” This is more about the pain of unrequited love than making her out to be a quirky joke of a character, and I adore it.
- As if I need my heart to be destroyed further, the final scene of this episode show just how much Ned loves Chuck. He had a plastic divider installed in the front that includes a glove apparatus that allows him to hold Chuck’s hand. If you’ll excuse me, I need to go let myself out of the oven because I AM SO FUCKING DONE WITH THIS SHOW RIGHT NOW.
- You did this to me. Y’all did this to me.
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