So, Mr. Sonnenfeld, where exactly did all that money go? Other than dandelion headdresses and fields of yellow CGI flowers, I mean?
This week's episode of Pushing Daisies was the first not directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, following his ousting after major budget overruns. This led many people (including our own Scott Tobias) to question whether the show would maintain its visual punch come the third episode. And while there may have been no Wonka-esque soundstages or futuristic dandelion-powered cars this time around, I certainly didn't feel any noticeable drop in quality, did you?
What I did notice was a mystery that I actually somewhat cared about. My main beef with last week's episode was that the "forensic" part of the show was completely overshadowed by the "fairy-tale" part—in fact, I'm having a hard time remembering what the hell happened last week… something about bulimia and crash-test dummies. It all felt like filler between the Ned-Chuck relationship (and Olive's musical number). This week's case of the grave-robbing funeral director felt much more accessible and human—though that might have something to do with the lack of manic CEOs and grown women dressed as flowers.
But this is Pushing Daisies, which means there was still plenty of left-field details and tweaked-out conversations to make things all twinkly-like. We got a lot more Emerson than we have so far, and while he's still mostly deadpan comic relief, he's a nice complement the non-stop golly-goshery of Chuck, who continues to don the most conspicuous disguises ever. (Nothing says, "I'm not that girl that everyone thinks is dead" quite like a fire-engine-red poufy dress and matching hat.)
Speaking of Chuck: At what point does one stop being cute and quirky and start becoming obstinate and asshole-ish? Seriously, her refusal to leave Ned and Emerson's private conversation reminded me of a spoiled toddler getting away with annoying everyone at the party just because her parents think it's cute when she runs around naked and steals sips from people's drinks. Just 'cause Ned has a boner for you doesn't mean you can be a brat, Chuck.
But I digress. This week also saw the addition of Raúl Esparza to the cast as the homeopathic-happy-pill-peddling Alfredo Aldarisio, a role that was originally slated to be filled by Paul Reubens. As much as I would have loved to see Pee-wee the pusher-man, Esparza fits in well, and should provide an interesting romantic interest for Olive. Also, as (yet another) Broadway vet, this surely means another musical number is on the way—a duet perhaps? (Reubens is also supposedly doing a guest spot later in the season, so that itch will hopefully get scratched soon enough.)
All in all, the show seems to be settling in. The characters' various quirks are getting fleshed out, the Chuck-Ned romance is getting dirtied up a little bit, and Olive is wising up to things, which should nicely complicate the situation. It's getting a little easier to see how this could all pan out over the long haul, especially if the aunts and the supposed Alfredo/Olive relationship get more screen time.
—Was anyone else expecting a doped-up explosion of awesomeness when Olive and Chuck's aunts had their little antidepressant pie party? I'm a little disappointed there was no tripped-out musical number or mermaid-tail fashion show.
—Chuck and Ned better be careful with this kissing-through-plastic-wrap thing. Or not. I guess some people are into erotic asphyxiation…
—Great throwaway gags: mermaid-tail garment bags, "Beaver Boy," Aunt Lilly lifting her eyepatch to let a tear trickle out, the sample-pack of anti-depressants, the soft-hands-obsessed coroner.
—I wrote "Emerson=Winnie The Pooh" in my notes approximately two seconds before Chuck said it. Take that!
—This week's pie: Chocolate cream.