Warner Bros. | 2008 | 598 mins | Not rated

Just when I thought network television might have passed all their flair for originality on to cable television, along came Pushing Daisies. Created by Bryan Fuller, Daisies was truly unique; the show centered on a pie maker named Ned (Lee Pace), with the ability to bring dead thing back to life just by touching them. The catch is, if something is revived for more than exactly one minute, someone else of equal value drops dead (If he revives a dog for more than a minute, another fog dies and so on). Further, if he touches the revived person or thing a second time, it falls dead again, this time permanently.

Pushing Daises was a success from the night it premiered on October 3, 2007. The pilot episode attracted over 13 million viewers and the show was also a critical success, garnering eleven Emmy nominations and winning three. However, in the midst of that success, came the much talked about 2007-08 writers’ strike. Because of that, only nine episodes of a full twenty-two episode season were filmed. When the strike was over, ABC decided to delay production on any new Pushing Daisies episodes until the following fall. This meant the show was off the air for ten months and in that time, much of the audience seemed to forget about the series. When Pushing Daisies finally did return in October of 2008, it did so with less than half the audience that had watched the last original show. Ratings continued to drop, so it came as no surprise when ABC decided to cancel the series after just a thirteen episode second season.

It’s really too bad Pushing Daisies never really got a fair shake, because season two continued to show that fun originality that made the show such a joy to watch. In the first season Ned had agreed to help a private detective, Emerson Cod (Chi McBride), solve a slew of tough cases (by briefly reviving murder victims, of course), he inadvertently stumbles into more trouble than he bargained for. With the help of his childhood sweetheart, Charlotte ‘Chuck’ Charles (Anna Friel) — herself having been resurrected from the dead and barred from touching Ned — the supernatural PIs hit the streets and tackle some bizarre cases. In its second season, Ned and Emerson have to investigate the deaths of a group of circus clowns, a model, a suicidal nun, an escort, a fried chicken entrepreneur, and a variety of local celebrities dealing with greedy relatives and shady business partners.

This season finds Ned questioning the usefulness of hid powers; in the midst of all this, Ned begins to learn more about his father who abandon him when he was a boy. We also meet Ned’s half-brothers and learn about his father’s ability to perform magic. All of this seemed to be leading to a meeting with his father but now we’ll never know. The final episode, “Kerplunk,” doesn’t play out like a series finale, so cast and crew likely assumed there would be a third season.

I’m truly going to miss Pushing Daisies. It was one of the best written and acted shows on television. While occasional gags fell flat and some characters were stronger than others, the series atmosphere and witty dialogue make up for those slight deficiencies. It will be interesting to see what Bryan Fuller comes up with next, as he is apparently working on creating a new series. After what he did with Pushing Daisies, my money’s on him.

All thirteen episodes are presented in a 1.78:1 wide screen that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Sharpness and picture detail are strong for SD; the bright color palette looks very good on DVD. Blacks are deep, and the whites are clean. Contrast is beyond the caliber of an average television production. The episodes appear clean and free from blemishes. Modest grain is present. Digital compression artifacts are not a problem.

Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The sound design for the episodes maintains a sweet musical fairy tale quality, but it remains obvious that these are tracks were mixed for the necessities of television broadcast. The forward soundstage remains dominant, while the rear channels deliver a smattering of active effects, as well as the expected ambient sounds, and some musical fill. Fidelity is solid but bass sees very limited activity. Dialogue is nicely recorded and easy to understand. A Portuguese language track is also encoded onto the disc. Subtitles are provided in English, French Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese and Thai.

Pushing Daisies: The Complete Second Season has a few special features:

The Master Pie Maker (13 minutes): Standard EPK that gives the cast an opportunity to praise creator Bryan Fuller, discuss their quirky characters and comment on the style of the series.

From Oven to Table (5 minutes): This featurette looks at the series’ special effects, specifically a challenging sequence involving a corpse that resembles a giant fried egg.

Secret Sweet Ingredients (8 minutes): A brief look at the show’s score, as well as the manner in which Fuller and composer James Dooley used music to enhance the mood of various episodes.

Add a Little Magic (4 minutes): Another effects short, this time focusing on a CG effects and its incorporation into key scenes.

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