Saturday, January 3, 2009

Dearie Awards 2008: Television Show of the Year - PUSHING DAISIES

Next to Ugly Betty (last year's Dearie Award winner in this category), no other series had the queer sensibility of Pushing Daisies. I say "had" because this thoroughly charming show is now sadly defunct, although there are reports of a potential big-screen follow-up in the future.

Created by Bryan Fuller and lovingly produced by out duo Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks, Pushing Daisies may have featured a heterosexual romance as its center but it certainly wasn't conventional. Spanning decades and even the gulf between life and death, pie-maker Ned (the dreamy Lee Pace) and his undead beloved — a woman nicknamed "Chuck" (adorable Anna Friel) — were cursed with the inability to physically touch each other lest Chuck return to the grave permanently. Their employment of plastic, latex and other barriers in the interest of Chuck's protection had a particular resonance with the AIDS-wary, but was more humorous and touching than off-putting.

Mix in the snappiest, most literate writing on television; memorable supporting turns by GLBT faves Swoosie Kurtz, Ellen Greene (it was so good to see her working again, 20 years after her Little Shop of Horrors heyday), Kristin Chenoweth, Paul Reubens and Missi Pyle, among others; highly-stylized, color-drenched art direction; and an occasional show-stopping musical number (mostly performed by Broadway belle Chenoweth) and we had a much too short-lived fantasy that not only didn't insult viewers' intelligence but honored it.

Given that last observation, perhaps it's no wonder that Pushing Daisies lasted only two seasons (give or take a few episodes due to writers' strike-related delays). I trust, though, that with luck and a bit of its signature magic, Pushing Daisies will soon rise from the dead itself.

By Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

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