With the sad cancellation of PUSHING DAISIES, the television landscape has become a far less whimsical and interesting place to visit. From the moment I sat down to watch my first episode of PUSHING DAISIES, I immediately knew that this was one of those television shows that were doomed to cancellation by the simple fact that it was far too good for the medium... or should I say, too good for the Jerry Springer watching masses that wouldn’t know a good television show if bit them on the flabby things they sit on, and unfortunately, that they also think with. Perhaps, if good television series like PUSHING DAISIES were declared endangered species, they could be federally protected from the idiocy of cancellation.
For those of you who have never seen an episode of PUSHING DAISIES, the series is concerned with the life of a pie maker named Ned (Lee Pace), who at an early age, discovered that he has an uncanny ability to resurrect the dead. Ned first learns of his strange ability, when a passing truck kills his dog Digby… Ned’s touch restores Digby to life. Ned’s second experience with his ability teaches him of the consequence of restoring life- something else in close proximity has to die in its place. Trial and error defines the rules more completely- a second touch from Ned will restore the recipient of his ability to a permanent death. The last rule… Ned’s ability can be invoked without consequence, as long as the dead are only restored to life for one minute or less. As a result of his unusual ability, Ned ultimately retreats from having any emotional attachments to life; maintaining a quiet existence of making pies and operating an establishment called The Pie Hole, where he sells his baked goods.
Of course, what would life be without complications? Hence, a private detective named Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) enters Ned’s life, and complicates his otherwise quiet existence. Upon discovering Ned’s uncanny ability, Emerson decides to take advantage of it, by having the pie man briefly resurrect murder victims, discovering who killed them, and then, collect any associated financial reward. Ned’s existence is further complicated by the death of Ned's childhood sweetheart Charlotte "Chuck" Charles (Anna Friel), whom he resurrects… but doesn’t have the heart to return to the grave. Romance blossoms between the two, but their relationship is also complicated by the fact that if Ned and Chuck actually do touch- their romance and her life would be ended in the same instant. Of course, Chuck’s presence doesn’t sit will with Emerson because she serves as a distraction for Ned. Even less thrilled by Chuck’s presence is Olive Snook (Kristin Chenoweth), a waitress at The Pie Hole, who happens to be "hopelessly devoted" to Ned. The cast of PUSHING DAISIES also features Ellen Greene and Swoosie Kurtz as Chuck’s eccentric aunts Vivian and Lily Charles, while Jim Dale serves as the series Narrator.
PUSHING DAISIES: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON ($40) comes to DVD in a four-disc set that features the following thirteen episodes that were aired during its second and final year: Bzzzzzzz!, Circus Circus, Bad Habits, Frescorts, Dim Sum Lose Some, Oh Oh Oh...It's Magic, Robbing Hood, Comfort Food, The Legend Of Merle Mcquoddy, The Norwegians, Window Dressed To Kill, Water And Power and Kerplunk. Season two deals with the growing relationships between the characters and the aftermath of secrets about said characters coming to light. With only thirteen episodes constituting season two, it should come as no surprise that this collection doesn’t tie up all the series loose ends.
Warner Home Video has made all thirteen episodes from PUSHING DAISIES: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. PUSHING DAISIES is a series that is made for high definition viewing, so the best visual qualities of the show aren’t really highlighted by standard definition presentations. Having been spoiled by watching this beautiful looking show in high definition, the DVD presentations leave me a little indifferent. Sharpness and picture detail are strong for SD, so those unacquainted with PUSHING DAISIES in hi-def should be more than pleased by these presentations. The bright color pallet holds up very well on DVD. Blacks are deep, and the whites are clean. Contrast is beyond the caliber of an average television production. The episodes appear clean and free from blemishes. Modest grain is present. Digital compression artifacts are not a problem.
All of the episodes that comprise PUSHING DAISIES: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON have been released on DVD with Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtracks. Aside from a tiny dip in fidelity, the sonic quality of the episodes is very much like one will hear on Blu-ray. The sound design for the episodes maintains a sweet musical fairy tale quality, but it remains obvious that these are tracks were mixed for the necessities of television broadcast. In that stead, the forward soundstage remains dominant, while the rear channels deliver a smattering of active effects, as well as the expected ambient sounds, and some musical fill. Fidelity is more than respectable, but the bass channel sees very limited activity. Dialogue is nicely recorded and easy to understand. A Portuguese language track is also encoded onto the disc. Subtitles are provided in English, French Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese and Thai.
The interactive menus allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as, as well as a few extras. Featurettes include the following programs: The Master Pie Maker (thirteen minutes), From Oven To Table (five minutes), Secret Sweet Ingredients (eight minutes) and Add A Little Magic (four minutes).
While it was in the air PUSHING DAISIES was a unique, whimsical fairy tale that was unlike anything else. The cancellation of PUSHING DAISIES marked the low point of the 2008-2009 television season. On DVD, PUSHING DAISIES certainly looks nice, but anyone who has ever watched this show in high definition is going to be disappointed. As a series PUSHING DAISIES is easy to recommend, but one would be best served with the Blu-ray release.
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