The online edition of the magazine Esquire recently held a popularity competition, of sorts, for television programmes. Taking sixteen undeniably wonderful, yet distressingly cancelled TV shows, the publication decided to offer a poll, allowing individuals to vote for one of two shows, within each ‘round’. Although the competition included such brilliant programs as Flight of the Concords, Freaks and Geeks, and The Office (UK), the finale resulted in the cult series Firefly, verses the morbid, yet light-hearted Pushing Daises. Whilst the former is utterly spectacular, and I seriously suggest that you, dear reader, watch it as soon as possible, I believe that Pushing Daises thoroughly deserved its victory.
Directed by Hannibal’s Bryan Fuller, and starring Lee Pace (The Hobbit series, Guardians of the Galaxy), Anna Friel (Emmerdale, Come Fly With Me), and Kristin Chenoweth (Wicked), the show follows the adventures of Ned the Pie maker. He is, by all accounts, a completely ordinary baker. Except, of course, if he touches something dead, it returns to life. There are, as there always are with magical gifts, conditions. The second time he touches whatever he has, to quote Ned himself, “undead-ed”, it becomes lifeless once more. Also, if whatever he has brought back to life continues to live for more than a minute, something nearby will die. As well as running the Pie-hole, Ned helps private detective Emerson Cod solve murders (which is, of course, much easier when you can simply asked the victim who killed them). Along with his undead-ed childhood sweetheart, Charlotte ‘Chuck’ Charles, and the waitress of the Pie-Hole, Olive Snook, the unlikely crime-solvers navigate their way through murder-scenes, magic shows, and life. This heart-warming modern fairy-tale, narrated by Jim Dale, is Wes Anderson-esque in its style with vibrant colours, beautiful symmetry, and intricate detailing.
There are also less trivial reasons for the importance of this show. Firstly, it passes the Bechdel test, meaning that there are more than two female characters, who have a conversation longer than 20 minutes, which isn’t about a male. Whilst this may seem trivial, it is surprisingly hard for many pieces of fiction to pass, but in a show where two of the four protagonists are female, it becomes significantly easier. Secondly, it disregards gender specific behaviour; The two male protagonists enjoy baking, and knitting respectively, and three female characters had past, high-profile athletic careers (One a jockey, the other two competitive swimmers). Most importantly, however, it has a strong theme of familial love running throughout. Despite the romantic relationship between Ned and Chuck, Emerson’s desperation to find his daughter, Ned’s dysfunctional relationship with his father, and the strong bond and betrayal between sisters Lily and Vivian are a few of the multitude of familial relationships explored. The solid presentation of family ties is a refreshing change from the hyperbolic importance placed upon romantic relationships in the media today, instead delivering the message that friends, and family, are just as, if not more, significant.
So, this beautifully filmed, charming piece of television certainly won the Reboot Tournament for a reason. Hopefully, Fuller, or possibly other prospective writers, will take notice, and we’ll be provided with further stories of the Pie maker with a heart of gold, who can bring things back to life.