The weather has cooled. Baseball, for me, is over. So, of course, I'm back to gorging on TV. 30 Rock and The Office are still great. I never thought they'd top "future Dwight," but it was pretty damn funny last week when Dwight took on the website and then PB&J convinced him that the computer had become self-aware and it taunted him. "What's a Jim?" That, combined with his lovesick stubble really was a lovely touch.
As far as new shows go, Pushing Daisies immediately got my attention, because it's by Bryan Fuller, creator of my most dearly departed Dead Like Me. Daisies has a few of the same quirky details that DLM had, but with a completely different overall tone. While DLM was darkly ironic and a bit snarky on the surface, it had a deep, soulful longing at its core, with Georgia as the misfit who didn't connect in life, and who was trying desperately to connect in death. Not coincidental, then, that physical touch is at the root of the magic of both of the shows. As a reaper, it was George's duty to take a person's soul before they suffered the painful indignity of death. Touching, therefore, being a nice metaphor for her ability/inability to find a connection with someone else.
But Daisies takes the whole touch thing a bit further, though the purpose of the metaphor is the same. In it, our protagonist is Ned, who realizes at an early age that his touch can bring things back from the dead. Great! And a second touch will send the reanimated permanently back to death. It's a cute set-up, as Ned has fallen in with a PI who stumbled upon his talent and the two team up to solve murder cases and collect the reward. Pretty easy money, because Ned simply touches the corpse, asks them who killed them, and then makes them dead again. The set-up also creates a double-edged sword of romantic tension, because Ned then revives his childhood sweetheart, but doesn't have the heart to kill her again. So although they're clearly bonkers for each other, they can never touch. Clever? Yes. Cute? Yes. Exhausting? Possibly.
It's only been two episodes, and this show definitely wins all visual awards for the year. It's got a Tim Burtonesque veneer about it, with vivid technicolor settings and costumes and a storybook-quality narration done by Harry Potter audio-book fellow Jim Dale. So it looks and sounds absolutely incredible. I mean, when you've got Kristin Chenoweth in an avocado mini-dress prancing around a fantastical, fairy-tale pie shop singing "Hopelessly Devoted To You," it's not going to be hard on the eyes or ears. But, the thing is, isn't it a little hard to take? (<--- that's what she said! that's a little bonus for the Office fans out there.)
I like the show. But maybe it's just a little too precious already? Chi McBride as the deadpan PI goes a long way to bring the lilting, lyrical quality of the would-be lovers back in line with his one-off eye rolls and realistic-if-somewhat dryly sardonic injections. But the dreamy leads? Lee Pace plays Ned, and I clearly remember him as Calpurnia in "Soldier's Girl." He's a cutie, and he's charming. But I also can't imagine Ned being any more gay. Don't get me wrong, it's adorable. Him and his tight little tushie and his perfect little pies and his wispy, wanton looks. He's sweet as one of the pies he makes. (His day job is as owner/operator of aforementioned pie shop, which comes complete with an awning that looks like a pie crust and is cutely named "The Pie Hole," which the narrator reminds us of frequently by never referring to him by name, instead always calling him "the pie maker.")
But all this frothy blather also makes the no-touching rule between he and his childhood sweetie a bit moot, because it'd be an impossible relationship simply because it's clear that Ned isn't just a connoisseur of pie crust, he also clearly prefers cock.
Anyhow. I hope the show succeeds, because it's ambitious and different. It is just rather filmic. And by that, I mean that this color-drenched landscape and dreamy, gentle-natured contrivance is a super-sweet confection. But watching it weekly might be like eating pie for dinner every freaking night. A captivating and charming idea, but in reality, just cloying. But, you know, that's just me. I like Dexter for god's sake. So I have a limited tolerance for the fluffy puppy looks. I mean, I'm rooting for Dexter's morals to crumble so that he'll gruesomely vivsect his girlfriend! And his sister! But I guess there's no reason why I can't also watch the pie maker and his childhood sweetheart not touch longingly, too.
The only other show I'm somewhat taken with this year? Dirty Sexy Money. It's got a very Ugly Betty vibe, as in it features a normal, decent person tossed amidst outlandish money and crazy-ass personalities. It's all a bit campy and convoluted with a murder plot underneath the frothy fun. And, it's dirty and sexy and dripping with money. What's not to like? Also? Donald Sutherland. I still dig him. He's horrifying and mesmerizing -- particularly when he's being a stand-up good guy. I predict it'll be canceled by mid-November.