Today I would like to talk about the wonderful world of Bryan Fuller. Poor, brilliant man. Keeps creating amazing, creative TV series, only to have them canceled before they've had the chance to get comfy. I finally got off my ass a month or so ago and watched Pushing Daisies, quickly followed by Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me. Fierce spoilers to follow.
Pushing Daisies -- What an adorable show! I am so in love with the entire cast, and every single character. Lee Pace is so very tall and adorable, and Kristin Chenoweth is comparatively short and adorable. I was hooked from the very beginning, but I think the moment when I fell head over heels was the sword-fight in the third episode. I mean, they have a sword-fight. In earnest. SWORD-FIGHTING, GUYS. Pushing Daisies is Bryan Fuller perfected. Both "Wonderfalls" and "Dead Like Me" stumbled on plotting, but each Pushing Daisies episode has a great self-contained arc while still being able to further the on-going plot. I admit to preferring the idea of Ned/Olive to Ned/Chuck, but leaving my shipping preferences at the door, I still loved all of the cute moments between the childhood sweethearts. I was never that frustrated by their inability to touch, and I loved all the creative ways they found to maintain some degree of physical intimacy in their relationship -- who would have guessed that "I'm gonna go see if we have any plastic wrap," could be such a romantic line? Naturally, I am frustrated by the limbo status of the three final episodes, but I've always been pretty good at waiting, and I have faith that I'll get my hands on them eventually. What I'd really like to see from the grand finale is some closure on the matter of Ned's father. I think it could be surreal-ly amusing if he could be played by Jim Dale, though he might be a little old for the role.
Wonderfalls -- I tackled this series while hunting rabidly for selections from Lee Pace's filmography, and I just adore it. I love the better part of the Tyler family (that is, the bit that rhymes: Darrin, Karen, Sharon and Aaron) to hell and back, and I'm grateful for the unmistakable Canadian flavour that Caroline Dhavernas brings to the lead role. Sharon is my favourite character, closely followed by Aaron -- Katie Finneran is so bubbly and funny, and I love Sharon's clumsy relationship with Kari Matchett's (Mariel!) character, Beth. Lesbian carpooling OTP, right there. Important distinction, since my all-encompassing OTP for the series is definitely Aaron/Mahandra. I love that he's tall and she's short, I love that he's white and she's black (I have a thing for interracial couples on TV), I love that Lee and Tracie were friends at Juilliard. So cute. Aaron was awesome enough when he was just the immature, snarky older brother, but there's nothing quite like watching Lee Pace when his character is in love. I can't say I'm too fond of Jaye -- she's not very likable, as main characters go, and she's pretty self-involved. Hard to believe that she'd be the one to listen if God started talking through inanimate things with faces. Plus Jaye/Eric was just downright painful to watch at times. Another thing the show suffered from was the way the plot got needlessly complicated towards the end of the series. "Cocktail Bunny" was particularly messy. Ironically, neither Jaye/Eric nor tangled plotting had come into play when it was canceled after four episodes. Brutal, that. I was very sorry to hear that the actress who played Penelope in the episode "Safety Canary", Kellie Waymire, died shortly after filming the episode. She was really great, a huge stand-out, and definitely my favourite guest star.
Dead Like Me -- Funnily enough, I didn't even know that Bryan Fuller was the creator of this series until well after I'd decided to watch it, and by then I was knee-deep in PD and WF. (Side note: WF doesn't mean William Fichtner anymore, it means Wonderfalls. Sorry, William.) This is my least favourite of the three, but it's still pretty terrific. I must thank whomever decided to put this on Showtime -- I love Rube's gang of foul-mouthed reapers all the better for the fact that they are, in fact, foul-mouthed. Speaking of, Rube was my favourite character from the very beginning -- I was so excited when I realized that a middle-aged Inigo Montoya was gracing my screen. (I kept repeating "My name eez Inigo Montoya. You keeled my father. Prepare to die." in my very best faux-Spanish accent.) Now I want to watch Criminal Minds. The characters are the best part of this series. Delores is the best crazy cat lady ever; Mason is such a hilarious flea-bitten puppy that nobody loves; Roxy will fuck you up; and I just want to give Daisy a big hug and not let go no matter how much she insists that she doesn't need real affection. By contrast, the plotting was pretty weak, and the episodes often had half-assed arcs that had me incredulous with incredulity. ("This episode appears to be about... waiting for stuff? Gosh, what a great Sesame Street theme.") It pained me to watch the continuing drama of the Lass family post-George's death, it really did. I just felt so sorry for Joy. I tried to understand what Reggie was going through, but I was sometimes frustrated by her apparent inability to treat her mom like a human being instead of an emotional punching bag. Their relationship fared better in the companion movie, which was one of the only things I liked about that piece of crap. Speaking of which...
Technically this doesn't count, since I don't even think Bryan Fuller was involved in this, but I feel an undeniable need to rant:
Dead Like Me: Life After Death -- I watched said piece of crap on the train back to rez on Sunday. I'd just finished the last episode the night before, so maybe my expectations were set too high? Who knows. All I know is, I was hard pressed trying to find something I liked about this movie. Maybe I'm biased -- Rube was written out of the story without a single appearance, and his influence was sorely needed in this movie. Daisy had also been replaced by an awful over-acting woman with none of Laura Harris's charm, and Daisy's character had been turned into an ugly caricature. Even Mason had changed -- instead of being scrappy and crude yet soft-hearted, as he had been in the television series, he was completely heartless. I know that he and Rube had their disagreements, but Mason would still care that he'd left. George, well... George is older, that's all. I don't really like her make-up, to be completely shallow about it. It looks cake-y. But at least UnGeorge doesn't look like a crack addict anymore. Roxy appeared to be the only one unchanged, but her change of character turned out to be at the root of one of the worst cases of character dissonance I've ever seen. My problem is this: in DLM's second season, Mason kills Ray by accident, and he and Daisy proceed to lose their shit. They are paranoid, nervous, guilty... even though it was an accident, and Ray was a horrible man who broke up marriages and abused his girlfriends. Then, we have Cameron. Yes, Cameron's a dick. He's almost as slimy and sketch as Ray was. But I REALLY do not understand the reapers' gung ho attitude towards "killing" him. I'm not usually one to get my Moral Outrage on, but the way they cheerfully knock him around, shoot him, attempt to drown him, cut his body into pieces and then burn his body (am I the only one who thinks he was still sentient at that point? Dude can't die, guys) was really disturbing. Also, I didn't understand why the reapers would suddenly believe there weren't any consequences to breaking Reaper Rules -- didn't we spend the entire first season establishing the fact that there was no way George could wriggle out of it? Did they learn nothing at all from Rube? Things I DID like: Joy and Reggie bonding scenes, and the whole part with George and Reggie, I always wanted to see that. And oh hay, am I just dumb, or did anyone else not realize that the shower of post-it notes at the end were supposed to indicate that she was the new leader of Rube's reapers? I had to find that out on wikipedia. P.S. There is no way Murray would have survived those five years.
Spurred by "Pushing Daisies" and "Wonderfalls", I was inspired to seek out the rest of Lee Pace's filmography. He has been climbing my rankings of favourite actors like some psychotic spider monkey, to the point that I am seriously considering giving him the top spot. So far I've seen The Fall and Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day. No spoilers.
The Fall -- I'm going to sound like such a broken record here. I've sure you've heard it before: it's visually FANTASTIC. The words, they are insufficient to describe it. So I'm not even going to try. I just knew that Lee Pace was going to make me cry with fictional things, and sure enough, he did -- I sobbed like a baby. There is such a wonderful rapport between him and the actress who played Alexandria. I loved the Wizard of Oz-like spin they put on the story, how people from their real life had counterparts in the story, and real life intertwined with the story tighter and tighter until you couldn't tell one from the other. Really beautiful movie. I definitely recommend it.
Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day -- I watched this on the train from home to my connection in Toronto. Such a lovely movie, I liked it a lot. Amy Adams and Lee Pace is a movie match that dreams are made of, honestly. I went in with fairly low expectations -- for some reason I likened it to Nanny McPhee? Not sure why, Frances McDormand looks nothing like the uglified Emma Thompson. PEOPLE OF THE LAND. You must know this: Lee Pace sings in this movie. And plays the piano. While I was watching, I assumed that he was just pretending to play, but I read somewhere today that he actually learned to play the songs. When did pianists get so sexy? I'm almost tempted to start up again. Almost. (FUN FACT: I got up to grade 10 Royal Conservatory piano before relaxing into recreational practice, and then dropping it entirely.) This movie (and now its soundtrack) has charmed me. I always appreciate when Lee gets to show off a little bit more range, as in The Fall; in Miss Pettigrew, his character is equal parts passionate to the point of rage, and infectiously enthusiastic.
I'm going to watch Religulous -- really looking forward to it, too -- and then go to bed. Ta.