Pushing Daisies

"I used to think masturbation meant chewing your food…..I don't think that anymore."
-Kristen Chenoweth, on ABC's new Wednesday dramedy Pushing Daisies


October 3 - International Sing the theme song from The Fall Guy Day (Author: Sea Hag)



WHAT TO WATCH ON NETWORK TV (Part 3)


Monday's Lineup
Tuesday's Lineup

I was all set to write today's preview, highlighting eight new shows (the most of any night), and almost shamefully telling you why Gossip Girl was the cream of the crop. I still love GG (see below), but not 30 minutes ago I watched the pilot episode of a show not debuting until tonight, and I knew I had to change everything. So excited am I about this new show that instead of writing about it down below, I'm leading the column with THE SHOW YOU HAVE TO SEE IF YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT.


Pushing Daisies – (Premieres tonight at 8 eastern on ABC, with encore Friday at 8)

Whatever you're doing tonight; change your plans. Or, if for some reason, you hate me and want me to suffer, at least clear out Friday. This is because there is a new show you simply HAVE to see. It's sort of a combination of AMELIE and BIG FISH, with splashes of Tru Calling, Dead Like Me and Gilmore girls thrown in. It's the kind of show you want to give a big ol' hug. I'm talking about Pushing Daises.

Here is the premise: Ned (Lee Pace) can bring things back to life with a simple touch. How is this possible? Well, if that's your concern, you're really not going to get this show. However, complications ensue. The people (or animals) Ned brings back to life can only stay alive for one minute. Then Ned must touch them and they go back to being dead. The reason for this bizarre quirk is that after one minute, someone else will die in place of whomever Ned just brought back. Sound complicated? It's not.

I don't know how to describe how wonderful the pilot was. In the first five minutes, Ned's dog is run over by a truck; a squirrel dies, as does Ned's mom. Yet you're not sad. It's just that kind of show.

Anyway, cut to Ned as an adult. For reasons you find out about in the opening, Ned is obsessed with pies. In fact, he runs a pie shop called "The Pie Hole." If that alone doesn't make you want to watch, you're a monster! Ned is also a particularly odd duck, because he cannot come into contact with humans. Kristen Chenoweth plays Olive, the waitress at The Pie Shop, and she is continually trying to hug Ned, to give (or get) some sort of human contact. But Ned can't do that, because of his powers. I want you to think about that for a minute. Imagine how lonely life would be if touching wasn't something you could really do. How isolated and distant might you become, afraid to get close to anyone, since you might kill them with a touch?

Then there's Chi McBride. He's a private eye named Emerson. He finds out Ned's secret and they go into business together. What they do is Ned wakes up murder victims, and asks them who their killer was, making sure to put them back to being dead all in under one minute. (Although, much like the rest of the show, one minute can last a long time.) Then Ned and Emerson go collect the reward. (It's not as icky as it sounds.)

More Complications ensue when one of the dead people is Charlotte "Chuck" Charles, Ned's first (and only) kiss when he was 10 years old, the love of Ned's old life, and a source of secret shame. (Sorry if I'm being vague, but I really do want you to watch, so I'm withholding as many details as possible.)

So far, what I've described might sound macabre, but I promise you it's anything but. This is a show where you find out to the minute how long each character has been alive. (From a narrator, the same dude that reads the Harry Potter books on CD.) The dialogue is rapid-fire and so funny, I had to rewind at least 5 times because I was laughing so hard. Here's one exchange:

Emerson: Sounds like you're a narcoleptic.
Ned: I suffer from sudden and uncontrollable types of deep sleep?
Emerson: What's the other one?
Ned: Acrophiliac
Emerson: Words that sound alike get mixed up in my head.
Olive: Me, too. I used to think masturbation meant chewing your food.
[awkward silence]
Olive: I don't think that anymore.

I meant to write down others, but I was laughing so hard I couldn't remember the wording.

It's not often I ask you to trust me. Tastes are all over the map, and people's likes and dislikes can be varied. But if you are looking for that next great thing, Pushing Daisies is something you need to see. It's the kind of magical show that only comes along every once in a great while. Even if you never watch the program again, there is no better way to spend the 8 O'clock hour tonight. Please?


As I said, this is the most crowded night of the week for new shows, with seven more besides Pushing Daisies, so let's get to it. New shows in bold.


Wednesday on the Networks
ABC – Pushing Daisies; Private Practice; Dirty Sexy Money
CBS – Kid Nation;
Criminal Minds; CSI: New York
FOX – Back to You;
'Til Death; Kitchen Nightmares
CW –
America's Next Top Model; Gossip Gir
NBC –
Deal or No Deal; Bionic Woman; Life


CBS – Kid Nation; Criminal Minds; CSI: New York

New Show – Kid Nation
When I reviewed BATTLE ROYALE, I predicted that one day we'd see a Survivor/Lord of the Flies TV set-up in real life. In some ways, Kid Nation takes that next step. In other ways, it's just one more shining example that adults don't get one simple fundamental fact: children are not just tiny adults. Watch TV and see how kids are portrayed these days, as tiny (and often wittier) grownups. This is a big deal, people. You wonder how the sexualization of girls has gone from 18 to 16 to 14 to 12…this is one reason why. I'm not saying Kid Nation is responsible for that, but it is boring, so do your part to save children and don't watch it.

CBS Overview – I've never seen (nor has anyone EVER given me reason to) Criminal Minds, and I can take or leave CSI New York. However, in protest for Kid Nation, I am boycotting all things CBS on Wednesdays, and you should do the same unless you're a monster.



NBCDeal or No Deal; Bionic Woman; Life

New Show – Bionic Woman
You could make a worse pilot for a highly anticipated show, but honestly, I think you'd need both prehistoric monsters and futuristic robots. I didn't get to watch the first episode until yesterday, but it's easily—easily!—the worst pilot of the year. I read that the show's producers have made three different versions of the pilot, cutting characters and storylines, adding new stuff, reworking other material. It shows. I am amazed that Bionic Woman got such high ratings in its debut. Almost nothing is explained, and not in that cool "What are they up to?" way. Worse, the main character is wholly unlikable. I cannot for the life of me figure out what's so great about her that her boyfriend (a secret government scientist) would make her bionic to save her life after a car accident. The only character even remotely having fun was the Evil Bionic Woman, who plays my least favorite character Starbuck in the new Battlestar Galactica. At least she looks happy to be there, and easily steals every scene. Why not just make a show about her??? And yet—and this will sound crazy—as bad as the pilot was, I wasn't really bored. More fascinated that such garbage could be executed. Or may be drawn to the Dark Angel/Buffy type of tough-girl premise. Hell; I may watch the second episode, and you know how I feel about garbage….

New Show – Life
The premise is at least original, which is more than most cop shows these days. Charlie Crews is a cop who was wrongly imprisoned for a murder he didn't commit, spending 12 years behind bars. Now out of jail, with millions from the City in a settlement, Charlie is trying to be a Homicide detective again. However, in the last 12 years life on the outside has changed blah blah blah. ("They have cell phones that fit in your pockets!") The whole Shawshank "on the outside now" vibe feels forced, but hopefully they work that out. Another potentially interesting wrinkle is that Charlie has learned tricks from the cons on the inside, which will now make him a better cop. Also, maybe Charlie understands and is more sympathetic to bad guys than he was before. We'll see. The first episode was strange; Charlie has this whole Zen thing he learned in prison to get him through, and it made him act weird. Add to that a bizarre chemistry with his "only on TV" beautiful partner, who got this horrible gig because of a drug addiction. That said, there are some interesting aspects too. At one point the girl cop accidentally gets cocaine flung all over her body and really freaks out (because of her recovering addiction). That was new for me. And part of the pilot was shot like a documentary, filming people from Charlie's past life who hated him for the murder and now can't seem to forgive Charlie for being actually innocent. Then there's Charlie's real reason for being a cop: to find out who set him up in the first place. I can't say I'm optimistic that NBC will keep enough balls in the air to get this right, but if you like cop shows but are looking for something off the beaten path, it might not hurt to give Life a look over.

NBC Overview - Wednesday is obviously extremely important to NBC, but they need to do much much better in the execution of their new shows if they want to increase market share on such a crowded night.



FOX – Back to You;
'Til Death; Kitchen Nightmares

New Show – Back To You
FOX's much-touted new sitcom features Kelsey Grammer (Frasier) as a famous news anchor in L.A., fired for an on the
air gaff, returning to his old home in Pittsburgh, humiliated in way too small a pond. Patricia Heaton (Debra from Everybody Loves Raymond) was the anchor left behind. She grew into the star and now has to share the limelight with someone with whom she didn't end on good terms. And….the night before he left Pittsburgh they slept together, she now has a daughter that she never told him about. Hilarity ensues. I've seen two episodes so far, both unevenly funny and surprisingly crude. Fred Willard (Amy's dad in Raymond) plays an over-the-top sports anchor, and he's funny, but could get annoying. The main thing to remember about new comedies is that the first dozen episodes of Season 1 they are just trying to find their comic timing. No show changes those first few weeks more than a sitcom, because while drama may be written well already in the script, comedy is all about timing. That said, I'd prefer more classic farce (like in episode 2, where Kelsey Grammer kept accidentally killing pet fish), than sexual entendres. Patricia Heaton, I thought you were better than that!

New Show – Kitchen Nightmares
I generally hate Reality TV, and I REALLY HATE watching people being embarrassed. How many times do you think I will be watching this?

FOX Overview – I've never seen 'Til Death, but Brad Garret annoys me, so other than loyalty to Grammer and Heaton, FOX Wednesday has a ways to go before I sing any praises.


CW
America's Next Top Model; Gossip Girl


New Show – Gossip Girl
Part of me thinks I should be ashamed for how much I enjoyed the pilot episode of Gossip Girl. The other part of me wants to start a support group for fans, so we don't feel so alone. Think CRUEL INTENTIONS meets THE RULES OF ATTRACTION meets The O.C., Gossip Girl is at once in your face, unabashed in its excess. Good luck getting your
tweenagers not to watch. Featuring the ultra-hip ultra cool—and far more important—ultra rich Manhattan teenagers, Gossip Girl is that kind of paranoid dream/nightmare that we secretly fear/wish uber-rich kids are really like. They run nightclubs. They have sex and openly drink in bars. They wear scarves with their tuxedos…you gotta be classy to do that! Gossip Girl has been savagely attacked by the Moral Majority, and they have every right to be alarmed. This is Sex and the City for teens, but on crystal meth. That said, I'm totally hooked, and you will have to pry Gossip Girl from my cold dead hands. Call it a guilty pleasure. (Speaking of which, the cast of gorgeous teenagers who will no doubt frequently be carnal caused Hyperion to look up ages on IMDB, to make sure tasteful lusting was okay. Most are 18, which makes it all kosher, but a few are not, including one girl who is only 14, which caused Hyperion to put her on the "Do not tastefully lust after" list. When I told Koz about the show he had the exact same thought, but with the opposite intentions. Sigh.)

CW Overview – It's not often that the CW (formerly the WB) becomes appointment viewing, but I haven't been this excited about a teen soap for some time. I loved The OC when it started, but you really have to go back to Dawson's Creek to find such possibilities. Does that make me a monster? Well, fine. I'll be a monster watching hotties behaving badly, so neener neener.


ABC – Pushing Daisies; Private Practice; Dirty Sexy Money

New Show – Pushing Daisies
See above

New Show – Private Practice
This show is a spin-off from Grey's Anatomy, featuring Addison (Kate Walsh) along with a star-studded new cast, including Amy Brennamen, Taye Diggs and Tim Daly. I assigned my mom to watch this, and she forced my dad to watch too. They loved it. Even my dad, which was sort of surprising to me, had nothing but good things to say about the pilot. As for me, I sat down for five minutes with them at one point and had to leave the room. It was that typical false-drama that networks love to create so much. Obviously five minutes is not enough to give a qualified opinion, but let's be honest: I was never going to watch this any way. If my mom is any judge, women will love it and should be able to force their husbands to watch too.


New Show – Dirty Sexy Money
If you look at the weekly lineup of shows networks are offering you, it seems clear that along with the obvious reality boom started in 2003 and the smaller boom of sci-fi of the last few years, what has changed the most in the TV landscape is the return of the nighttime soap. Call it the "Desperate Housewife Syndrome," which is somewhat odd, because that show was deliciously fun for one season, and then turned into crap on a crutch right before our very eyes. But enough about history. The next soap about people's miserable lives—and rich people at that; another recent phenomenon—is Dirty Sexy Money, which at the very least gets credit for the most evocative title of the new season. A super-rich family with tons of secrets, and a do-gooder type lawyer (played by Peter Krause of Sports Night or Six Feet Under), who agrees to become the family lawyer after his father (who was the lawyer) dies in a mysterious plane accident. A plane accident that might have been caused by one of the aforementioned family members. DUN DUN DUN!!!!! How rich is this family? Well, the patriarch (played by the immortal Donald Sutherland) first asked "Bill" to look after the family affairs. Bill? As in Bill Clinton. If you're now rolling your eyes at the attempted name-dropping, let it go; it's the least of this family's problems. Featuring a girl who can't act and overdoses on pills to get attention, another girl who marries one guy after the other (while still pining for the lawyer), an Episcopal minister who's about as unchristian as one can be, a future senator (one of the Baldwins) who's having an affair with a Transvestite, and on and on and on. I can't promise you'll love the show. Kaida wanted to strangle every single person in that family more than once. However, it's certainly not boring, and a great way to cap off what may now be the best night on television.

ABC Overview – It looks like two of the three hours on Wednesday will be spent with ABC. It's a development that absolutely shocks me, but I go where the quality is. Pushing Daisies is a gem, and Dirty Sexy Money is at least entertaining. I can't even imagine what they are going to do once January comes and Lost rolls back into town.


Hyperion
October 3, 2007

Up tomorrow: Thursday's lineup, plus I answer your questions! (Feel free to send any more you have in.) See you then

2 comments:

Sparky Duck said...

Did we mention Reaper yet?

I can't fully boycott CBS on Wednesdays, because we are fully hooked into Criminal Minds.

Sea Hag said...

Seriously, 'Dirty Sexy Money' wanted to make me poke out my eyes with my thunbs. It was just awful. The characters were all asses and they had this loud background music on ALL THE TIME and it sounded like 'The Safety Dance'.