The Complete Second Season
After a strike-shortened first season, Pushing Daisies returned for a cancellation-shortened second. Therein continues the captivating and whimsical, if somewhat convoluted, fairytale about the pie maker who wakes the dead.
Ned and Chuck’s relationship was magic. They were childhood sweethearts, separated into lives of mutual solitude, only to be reunited after death. But magic, as we see in the second season episode, ‘Oh Oh Oh…It’s Magic!’ is illusory. The idealized love they had constructed for themselves breaks down in season two, and must be rebuilt on a foundation of reality.
Of course, the show doesn’t become dark or depressing. It’s still just as lively, colorful, and wondrous as ever. One of the impressive things about the series is how quickly if found its grove and stuck with it. Normally there’s a major contrast between a series’ first episode and its last; but Pushing Daisies had a vivid vision, and executed it beautifully and consistently.
Chuck spends the beginning of the season trying to overcome her past life as a hermit. Her current situation, as a revived dead girl, effectively leaves her just as cut-off from the world as she was when she lived with her agoraphobic aunts, despite the fact that she can now go outside. While she’s able to meet new people, she can never fully connect with them, because she must always hide who she is.
Ned, too, has to overcome his past life, that of the rejected child. As it happens, Ned’s past trauma comes in conflict with Chuck’s; she seeks to assert her independence, which Ned interprets as a new rejection. Ned latched on the the ‘easy’ relationship with Chuck (since she had to keep her existence secret, he had a more-or-less captive audience in her), and struggled with more complex ones. In season two, he reunites with his half brothers (who were also abandoned by their father), and makes friends with an awkward taxidermist named Randy Mann, learning the value of human connections along the way.
Season two introduces a larger mystery that presumably would have been revealed over the course of the season or series. It involved Ned and Chuck’s fathers, who served in the military together and were apparently stationed in Egypt for a time, and a third man named Dwight Dixon, who served with them. Dwight shows up one day, trying to find an old pocket watch once owned by Chuck’s father (not knowing that it was in the possession of Chuck, deceased), and worms his way into several character’s lives, causing trouble along the way.
A larger story arc is just what the show was missing in its first season. It’s only lightly sprinkled into the second, with most episodes still devoted to one-off stories, but it adds that little bit of extra depth that gives you something to think about between episodes.
Even in its incomplete form, Pushing Daisies is a delightful series, and well worth watching.
Since its cancellation, series creator Bryon Fuller has talked frequently of a revival; first as a movie, then a comic book, and most recently as a TV miniseries. Though there are lots of hopeful updates, thus far nothing has materialized.
With 13 episodes on two discs, it’s clear that Warner Bros wanted to keep this release under budget. But even with the skimping, the video comes out looking nice. Extras consist of a few short featurettes.