TV Detail: Pushing Daisies review. Episode 2.02—"Circus, Circus"
My fear with Pushing Daisies from the start was it would become stale. How many times can Ned, Chuck and Emerson sleuth around and solve murders before it becomes, well, boring? Each episode is essentially the same—transposing one exotic locale for another (like say a beehive-shaped office for a vibrant three-ring circus) alongside an array of colorful characters (and possible murderers), interspersed by the witty repartee between its lead characters. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be a recipe for longevity. And as much as it pains to say, the second episode of the season—"Circus, Circus"—was even more lackluster than its premiere.
If the premiere introduced too few characters (i.e. suspects), this episode introduced too many. A concerned but curiously emotionless mother, Georgeann Heaps (Rachael Harris), came to Emerson complaining about her missing daughter Nikki (Hayley McFarland). Emerson took the case, immediately sensing a connection to Georgeann's plight (Emerson's own missing daughter has been increasingly creeping into his thoughts).
Well, turns out Nikki ran off and joined the circus—literally. The investigation had the crew on a wild goose chase through a circus that smelled like "wet sawdust and underarm," crossing paths with mimes, acrobats, human cannonballs, clowns, clowns and more (dead) clowns. But again, there were so many characters coming and going it was hard to keep up, much less stay interested.
The rest of "Circus, Circus" frustrated me because it only amplified the complaints I had with the premiere: Olive and Lily's irritating newfound convent lifestyle and the seemingly endless number of times Vivian and/or Lily walk into the piehole and narrowly miss seeing Chuck. Enough is enough. Thankfully, both circumstances led to some wonderful moments: Olive spilling her guts to her Digby replacement (aptly named Pigby), and Chuck's lonely, sorrowful tears at having to hide from her aunt Vivian (in a particularly well-acted moment from Anna Friel).
The episode did plant some seeds that could blossom into interesting developments down the road, however. Emerson's missing daughter storyline seems surprisingly touching, adding an extra dimension to his character that moves him beyond wisecracking sidekick and closer to actual human being. And while Ned was understandably taken aback after Chuck moved out into Olive's apartment, the couple's self-declared "fresh start" will hopefully set a euphoric, romantic tone for the couple for the rest of the season.
The dialogue, as always, is worth singling out. This episode's top quotes:
1. Chuck, after Ned (lamely) knocked the acrobat off his perch, sending Nikki tumbling into the net: "You won me a prize!"
2. Olive commenting on the fowl-tasting porridge: "I could throw up in my mouth and not even know the difference."
3. Ned giving himself a pep-talk at the end of the episode: "My name is Ned. I wake pies and make the dead."
Also, not necessarily a quote, but Lily hiding a flask in a bible? Hilarious!
Finally, I feel compelled to end on a rather somber note: the ratings for premiere were not good—alarmingly not good. Even though I have my quibbles with the show from time to time, it is still an hour of entertainment like no other. Don't let this be another beloved, yet swiftly canceled casualty.
So what say you, Pushing Daisies devotees: am I right to be frustrated, or could I simply use a homeopathic-infused triple berry pie to cure my blues? What happened to the storyline about Ned's father teased in the premiere? How much longer will Pushing Daisies be on the air? And which pet would you rather have—Digby or Pigby? Important questions, all.