Bryan Fuller seems destined to create truly unique, wonderful and heart warming fairy tales in the medium of television... and then watch them cancelled after a season or two. Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls and now Pushing Daises all are members of this club. It seems to be birthed by Bryan Fuller is the death sentence for a show, which is a real shame.
Pushing Daisies was his latest and most fairy tale of the trio he created, a highly stylistic show with a flair for the whimsical and a dark sense of humor lurking just under the surface. Visually the show is bright, clean and wholesome; but the subject of the show is murder and death. It's a brilliant dichotomy between the subjects of life and death, and while it's not the first time he's dealt with the subject (Dead Like Me is a brilliant treatise on depression, mourning and death) it is still a masterpiece.
The second season of the show spans for thirteen episodes, expanding the universe presented in the writer's strike shortened first season and bringing the episode run up to a total of twenty two. If you enjoyed the first season it's fair to say you'll enjoy the second one as well, but it's certainly not a show for everyone as it's highly stylistic and - as I mentioned earlier - has clear roots in fairy tales.
The perfomances of the cast remain consistently brilliant throughout and they're able to bring even the more ordinary of the murder cases to life, Chi McBride's portrayal of the down-to-earth smart mouth gum shoe Emerson Cod and Kristin Chenoweth's turn as Olive Snook remain the strongest performances in the show. These two alone are good enough to consider watch the show for, fortunately the others are also game, I'm especially fond of Swoosie Kurtz as Lily Charles but Lee Pace makes a great straight man for everyone else as Ned (and is more than capable of being off beat and entertaining himself, as his eyebrows demonstrate solo) and Anna Friel is energetic and breezy throughout.
Now there are a few things I did find somewhat tiresome, in particular Jim Dale as the narrator, now in his defence it's not his fault as such, it's more the dialog written for the narrating. I find it overly wordy and at times quite pompous, that could be his delivery, it could be the words themselves, I don't know. All I do know is I find myself rolling my eyes every time he narrates over the top.
I also found myself getting increasingly bored with the 'they can't touch' element of the show, which had devolved away from being an endearing and cute thing and become another boring aspect of unrequited love, add on top of this the adoreable (and much, much lovelier) Olive mooning over Ned and at times it was hard to feel sympathetic for his situation. Personally I would have sent Chuck on her way so she could have a proper relationship involving touching and everything, and then lived happily ever after with Olive. But it is worth admitting that this aspect of the show does get played down over this season, so it's not as irritating as it could have been.
The final sticking point is this. You do need to remember that this is a show which was cancelled before it's time, so there will be loose threads hanging by the end (especially concerning the two fathers). But the show does try to give the viewer and the characters some closure, which is admirable - it's just a real shame that they weren't given a third season to close out some of the more interesting story arcs, but on the other hand at least it isn't left hanging like Millenium, John Doe and many other shows I could mention. So that's something to be grateful for.
The packaging itself is quite excellent, the set matches the first season perfectly, with just enough differences on the shelf to seperate the pair. The menus are also well presented and brightly coloured, but the individual episodes are not listed by name, which means you have to look at the episode list on the inside cover of the set to figure out which episode is which. At times this means you have to remove other DVDs because it is quite literally on the inside cover of the DVD case, as in right behind all the discs. Cute idea, lousy execution when linked with the nameless episodes. Irritating...
Still, this four disc set is an enjoyable product and it's a great way to experience the show, so get your fingers in a pie!
The Master Pie Maker: Inside the mind of Bryan Fuller
From Oven to Table: Crafting a Script Idea into Reality
Secret Sweet Ingrediants: Spotlight on composer Jim Dooley's work
Add a Little Magic: Executing some giant sized visual effects.
Audio: 5.1 Dolby
Aspect Ratio: 16x9 Full Frame
Run time: 535 Mins
Subtitles: English, Dutch