Maybe it's the crappy weather. Maybe it's the holiday stress. Maybe it's the prospect of months ahead with no new Pushing Daisies. Whatever it is, I can't remember the last time this show left me feeling so cold afterwards. What went wrong tonight?
The obvious answer is that this episode was the one that was repurposed to work as a season finale should the writers' strike continue. (That also explains the sudden time-jump from honey season to snow-filled winter.) This resulted in, I believe, the Ned-Chuck mope-a-thon being shoved into what was supposed to be the show's holiday episode. What might have been an awesomely morbid take on the season of giving–complete with homicidal Make-A-Wish volunteers and Grinch references–couldn't stand up to Emo Ned.
I understand the necessity to advance (and kinda resolve) the Chuck-Ned conflict before the (unofficial) end of the season, but jeezus–between terminally ill children, corpse-concealing snowmen, necro-olifactory suspicions, sad Emerson, defeated Olive, and the aforementioned love-angst, even the strongest of homeopathically enhanced pear-gruyere pies couldn't lighten the mood. (And what was with the yodeling? Nothing is more infuriating than yodeling. Not even claymation.)
Usually even when the story drags, we can count on some sparkly dialogue to keep things interesting, but the script felt a little forced–or have I just reached my saturation point for the characters' rat-a-tat, monotone delivery? There were some good exchanges–Emerson brushing off the coroner, Olive's lengthy exploration of the word "bosom"–but this was the first week when I didn't have a long list of quotable notables scribbled in my notebook. Again, chalk it up to the last-minute edits, but that doesn't change the fact that it's a disappointing way to go out.
"Corpsicle" did leave us with quite a few things to mull over during the season's intermission, though (Pushing Daisies will supposedly return with its remaining 13 episodes in the spring). The big bomb of the episode, couched in Aunt Lilly's pie-induced trip, is that she is actually Chuck's mother. Thank god, because I don't know how much longer I can take the sad orphan thing. Emerson is also apparently a daddy (baby-daddy?), but that situation seems similarly tragic. I liked getting a glimpse of what it is that makes Emerson such a grouch, though, and I'm hoping for some more developments on that front. There's also still the question of just how much Oscar knows (and how much Olive wants to admit to know) and that whole health-inspector murder from two weeks ago.
When it comes down to it, this episode was about plot advancement more than anything, and I think the spirit of the show suffered because of it. Despite the "happy" ending of Chuck and Ned not-kissing-but-still-making-up and that brat getting his heart, there was no, well, heart. Olive and the aunts were pretty much wasted, disappearing completely during the second act–why would you give a bunch of Broadway actresses, two of whom have distinctively wacky singing/performance styles, a bunch of psychedelic pie and NOT have them bust out in a musical number? Again, there were the makings of a great holiday episode here, it just got cluttered.
Still, a mediocre episode of Pushing Daisies is better than a good episode of most of what we're about to endure for the next few months, namely horrible, horrible reality shows (Dance Wars??). There's still lots to look forward to with this show come springtime; so let's consider this a temporary lull, deal? Deal.
-Beehive cozies! With scarves!
-I'm starting to think Paul Reubens may not have been the best choice to play Oscar. Originally, he was slated to play Alfredo, and this makes me think that maybe he and Raul Esparza would be better if they switched roles. Reubens could bring a little weirdness to Olive's sweet-talking paramour, and Esparza could make Oscar a little more accessible–right now, he's about to cross the line into straight-up scary.
-Chuck asked Ned to bring back her father for just one minute; but wouldn't he pretty much be a rotted corpse by now? We've seen in the morgue that the re-awakened retain their most recent form, be it impaled, frozen, or partially decomposed. I imagine a conversation with skele-daddy might be more scarring than having him die in the first place.
-Christ, I know it's supposed to be winter and cold and whatnot, but can we lay off the blush on Ned? He looks like a freakin' nutcracker doll.
-Tonight's pie: peach.