( Max score: 100 )
This forensic fairytale follows Ned, a young man with a very special gift. As a boy, Ned discovered that he could return the dead briefly back to life with just one touch. Now a pie maker, Ned puts his ability to good use, not only touching dead fruit and making it ripe with everlasting flavor, but working with a private investigator to crack murder cases by raising the dead and getting them to name their killers. But the tale gets complicated when Ned brings his childhood sweetheart, Chuck, back from the dead -- and keeps her alive. Chuck becomes the third partner in Ned and Emerson's private-investigation enterprise, encouraging them to use Ned's skills for good, not just for profit. Life would be perfect for Ned and Chuck, except for one cruel twist: If he ever touches her again, she'll go back to being dead, this time for good.
If I had to describe this show in a few words I guess I would call it an adult fantasy. The premise revolves around Ned, who was born with the ability to raise the dead simply by touching them. There are a few important caveats though. If the deceased remain alive for longer than a minute after he raises them something or someone nearby will die. If the deceased is touched a third time (after the original cycle) death becomes permanent. Ned has a penchant for pie making (learned from his mother) and with the help of waitress Olive Snook, runs a shop called The Pie Hole. The restaurant isn't doing well until one day by happenstance private investigator Emerson Cod accidentally discovers Ned's gift and offers him a proposal. Ned will temporarily bring murder victims back to life, allowing Emerson to inquire about the circumstances of their demise, quickly solve the case and split the reward money with him. When they were kids Ned's childhood sweetheart Charlotte Chuck Charles moved away after the death of her father (inadvertently thanks to Ned) and went to live with her two aunts, Vivian and Lily. Emerson and Ned discover that she was murdered while on a cruise ship and while investigating her death Ned brings her back to life. He finds himself unable to send her back and they subsequently fall in love. They live together under the unique understanding that they can never touch. Each episode finds the three of them involved in solving the unique variety of cases that come into Emerson's office. Additionally Ned and Chuck must deal with their rather unorthodox lives that include keeping their secret, avoiding people from Chuck's past, Olive's undeclared for Ned and the balance required to juggle it all.
I hadn't seen this show prior to this review but I had heard of it. I have to admit that I rather enjoyed it. Its light spirited, whodunit, fairytale type narrative is fresh, over the top and inventive. I found the show's visual aesthetic, characters, and 1940's romantic comedy based theme to be interesting and fun. I can easily see where its plot, slightly heightened use of dialogue, and unusual wit could seem inane but I found it to work quite well. Season Two's thirteen episodes are spread out over two dual layered BD-50 discs with disc two contains the bonus supplements. It is a shame that it only lasted two seasons but hopefully creator Bryan Fuller will land on his feet and have the opportunity to vent his rather unique perspective in some form or fashion in the near future.
There is nothing contained in this series that would be inappropriate for young teens and above.
Pushing daisies comes to Blu-ray from Warner featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 17 mbps and lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 channel audio that has a constant bitrate of 640 kbps.
This show has a distinctive visual style that utilizes a variety of bright color schemes which help to augment it fairytale based world. The results are impressive as deep, oversaturated reds, vivid blues and lush, gradational greens are capably offset by a lavish assortment of pastels which are quite often anchored in scene drenching yellow. While this may sound like a wild array of colors I found them to be striking and a perfect match for the shows interesting theme. Fleshtones are on the warm side but are tonally balanced and lifelike in depiction. Contrast is stable and blacks are strong which enriches both bright and dark onscreen elements. Resolution is strong as images have excellent depth and appreciable delineation with clarity that accents the fine detail in facial features and objects. Sharpness wavers here and there and darker elements tend to lack the dimensionality of brighter ones but neither is a detrimental to fidelity. A light sprinkling of grain provides an inviting textural nuance which is reminiscent of film. Other than some minor noise visible in a few dark backgrounds I didn't see any obvious signs of video related anomalies.
I must admit that I was disappointed to see that Warner opted for a lossy Dolby Digital soundtrack rather than going with a lossless encoding. The show relies heavily on dialogue however its almost constant musical accompaniment and diverse array of sounds would certainly have benefited from lossless audio's high resolution. Jim Dale's running narration sounded lucid and articulate through the center channel. Spoken dialogue was clear, well intonated and prominently placed within the front soundstage. The front three speakers had an open and detailed delivery with good channel separation and discernible directional correlation during panning sequences. Surround activity was limited to splashes of ambience and some discretely placed effects that extended the breadth of the soundfield. Jim Dooley's Emmy Award winning music had good top end air and estimable detail but lacked the smooth highs and subtle refinement I have grown accustomed to from listening to lossless audio soundtracks. The occasional use of low frequency effects and extended dynamics offered robust bass and enhanced energy that accented the sound mix. Overall I found the presentation to be satisfying but it inevitably left me wanting.
Pushing daisies is an entertaining and unique experience that pushed the envelope just enough. Its lively visuals, fairytale based storytelling, and somewhat skewed but fun perspective made it charming and original. Unfortunately for its fans the show has been cancelled after only two seasons. Luckily they can enjoy it in high definition on Blu-ray Disc. Season Two's offering from Warner features excellent video quality but its lack of lossless audio and somewhat bland bonus features make it tough to recommend as a blind buy for those not familiar with it. I think that the show is worth checking out so if your in the mood for something different give it a rent.