Review: Pushing Daisies – The Complete First Season

Producing for television is a grueling endeavor dictated by merciless deadlines and limited budgets. Therefore, I’m always amazed when a program comes along that pushes the boundaries of the medium and approaches the production values normally reserved for the movies.

Pushing Daisies is just such a series. Inventively written, beautifully shot and wonderfully acted, the show is something of a minor miracle. How did something this special make it to the small screen?

Credit writer/creator Bryan Fuller (Dead Like Me and Wonderfalls) and director Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black and The Addams Family) who, together with cinematographer Michael Weaver collaborate to give the series’ pilot and second episode a lush, distinctive visual style reminiscent of the best works of Tim Burton and David Lynch. Despite the weekly grind, subsequent directors manage to meet up to the high standards and nearly every episode of the series’ strike-shortened first season contains at least one eye-popping, magical sequence.

Pushing Daisies is the story of Ned the Piemaker (Lee Pace), who has the ability to reanimate the dead with one touch. However, the gift comes with a terrible price. If Ned allows the reanimated corpse to survive for more than one minute, another nearby life is taken. And, most tragically, if Ned touches the once-dead again, that life will be lost forever.

Outstanding supporting performances by Anna Friel (Chuck), Kristin Chenoweth (Olive), Swoozie Kurtz and Ellen Greene and guest shots by Paul Rubens make this first season DVD collection a must-buy.

The three-disc set includes behind-the-scenes interviews for each of the episodes. This approach is entertaining and informative, but I don’t like the navigation scheme and would have preferred the ability to play all the shorts at once, instead of having to select each vignette individually.

Like all high-concept series, Pushing Daisies is always at risk of wearing out its welcome, but even if it has a short life, it will have earned its place among the best produced and most innovative television programs of all time.

Pushing Daisies – The Complete First Season
• Actors: Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride, Jim Dale, Ellen Greene
• Format: AC-3, Box set, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
• Language: English
• Subtitles: English, Spanish
• Region: Region 1
• Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
• Number of discs: 3
• Rating:
• Studio: Warner Home Video
• DVD Release Date: September 16, 2008
• Run Time: 379 minutes