"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Pushing Daisies: Smell of Success

This episode of Pushing Daisies gave me my first whiff of something new for the show: a plot thread not involving our core characters that could continue for more than one episode. Paul "Pee Wee Herman" Reubens, who was initially supposed to appear on the show earlier this season, finally turned up as a scent expert who sniffed something peculiar on Chuck, and I'm not sure I've seen the last of him. Elsewhere, Olive and Chuck's cheer-up mission with the aunts reached a new level, and I learned how Ned found himself making pies in the first place.

Overall, this wasn't my favorite Daisies episode; all the usual elements were there, but it just didn't feel quite sharp enough to me. They're solidly into another phase with the aunts' story, and the rest of the show seems to need an injection of something new as well. It could be Molly Shannon's upcoming appearances, but it could also be Reubens; the end certainly made it seem like Oscar Vibenius isn't done with the girl who smells like honey and death.

The case this time around focused on a "nose" who had written a book on making odors work for you (title: Smell of Success) and who turned out to be staging near-death experiences for himself in order to get more publicity. That led to some particularly vivid descriptions of scents ("pungent like fried chicken grilled on a bed of hair"), and it also provided the chance for Olive to coax the aunts back into the pool, thanks to the rejuvenating scent of chlorine. Since Pushing Daisies has established itself as a show where people just might burst into song, I'm curious to know what everyone thought of Aunt Vivian's "Morning Has Broken." I loved the way that scene was put together, from the shadow of the rain hitting Aunt Lily's face to the moment they dove into the pool together.

Meanwhile, in one of the sweetest Young Ned segments yet, I learned that Ned became The Piemaker to stay close to his mother after her death. Not a groundbreaking revelation, but it explained why Ned would reject Chuck's cup-pie idea; he wants to stay true to his mom's memory. But he's also madly in love with Chuck, and so in the end, the cup-pies won their spot on the Pie Hole's menu. He and Chuck were so cute hugging each other by hugging themselves; that may be as "together" as they ever get, but in a moment like that, it's enough.

Some other thoughts:

Emerson usually rules the one-liners, but this episode belonged to Olive. From the "is that a rolling pin in your apron" crack to her take on the stages of grief — "something, something, something, acceptance!" — she presided over many of the funniest moments. In between, she had a sweet scene with Chuck when she handed over her mom's sweater and asked her not to cry because they didn't have that kind of relationship yet.

Though it was an off week for Emerson, his "your book was a bomb" bit was great.

Until that opening scene with Young Ned, it hadn't ever occurred to me that Ned can't even eat his own pies. Poor guy!

Sight Gag O' The Night: Chuck wearing a "Jews for Cheeses" T-shirt. Runner-up: Olive sniffing her own wrist after being told she smelled like dog.

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