Bryan Fuller’s currently the bane of fans’ existences everywhere because of his deliciously (sorry) imagined “Hannibal,” but no matter what his taste (sorry) in storytelling now, I’ll always have fond memories of the man because of a little gem of a show that got put on, and then pulled off, the air long before the world was ready for it: “Pushing Daisies.”
The story of the piemaker who can bring the dead back to life, except with a slew of caveats (first touch = life, second touch = dead forever, for one), is not just a richly-imagined, beautifully-rendered tragicomic romance. It also happens to be one of the most inventive and “practical” treatments of death in network television, where procedural dramas have body counts that perhaps mirror those in real life, but nonetheless, damn.
Perhaps it’s because fantasy and sci-fi are apart from our world that we can find some truly interesting treatments of death (by magic, by robots, through the ripping of a soul from a body) and equally interesting treatments of life (cyborg regeneration, digital storing of memories and souls, reincarnation) within those genres. But there are also plenty of stories in the genre where death is elaborately metaphor-ized (e.g. Harry Potter) and treated within the philosophical constraints of “the real world.”
In the case of “Pushing Daisies,” what makes Ned special is, on the surface, his dead-raising powers, but what makes him really special is how he treats it, and the dead themselves. Resurrection is nothing; it’s how one chooses to apply resurrection where we can begin to dissect cultural treatments of death, and perhaps also reflect on how we live knowing that at any moment, this could all
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