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October 31, 2014

Pushing Daisies: Oh Oh Oh...It's Magic

by Allison Waldman, posted Nov 20th 2008 12:15AM
Pushing Ds(S02E06) "You can't sugarcoat that turd." -- The Great Herrmann to Ned

Magic and the macabre, a recipe for a perfect Pushing Daisies episode. This one also had the virtue of Fred Willard doing a terrific guest star turn as "The Great Herrmann." Considering how misused Fred has been on some other shows (Back to You last season, for instance), it was refreshing to see him really shine here. His heart-to-heart with Ned, making Ned feel uncomfortable emotions because of the memories of his father's abandonment, was a high point of the show.

Ned accepts an invitation to watch his half-brothers -- Maurice and Ralston, the family Ned didn't know he had -- at The Conjurer's Castle. Their act is called "Two for the Show," and they're actually illusionists. Later on, their sleight of hand expertise helps solve the case.

The action was mainly at the Conjurer's Castle, and while it was a good set for the murder, the red velvet curtain effect used in between the scenes was overdone and unnecessarily stagy for Pushing Daisies. It seemed old fashioned.

The ever skeptical Emerson Cod was hilarious, asserting that magic is a "voodoo grift." But when offered enough dough, Cod and The Pie Hole crew turned pet detectives. The Great H. engaged Emerson and company to use their detective skills to find out who was killing the animals in his act -- doves, a rabbit, a monkey, and a putty cat. When The Great H. was killed, Ned was compelled to avenge his death, as well as the animals' deaths.

Hermann was too much like a "magic" dad, Ned's term for his father who disappeared. The idea of reliving the experience was traumatic enough for Ned's acid reflux to kick in, and kick in, and kick in. Heavens to lozenges! When he compared notes with Ralston and Maurice, he discovered they'd been traumatized by their father, too. Ned's starting to bond with the bros, despite himself.

Herrmann's act, "Cementia" is just the kind of bizarro creation that makes PD such fun; it was over the top and twisted. Ironically, it was the act that did him in. The culprit turned out to be the geek. No, not the computer type. This geek ate things, including the magnets from Herrmann's shoes that when removed, failed to activate the trap door, thus leading to his being cemented to death. Like Ned and Maurice and Ralston, the Geek had daddy issues, too. He wanted Herrmann's attention and affection, but the Great only saw the Geek as a novelty act.

Solving the crime, Ned was able to bring some closure to his brothers, including a book of magic acts Herrmann left to Maurice and Ralston. Ned also managed to magically give Chuck some closure, using Olive as a proxy to get Lily to talk to her daughter. It was a really sweet scene, giving the actors so much subtext to play.

In the other side plot, Stephen Root was back as Dwight Dixon, who has a connection to both Chuck's father and Ned's. He confronted Vivian and Lily looking for Charles' pocket watch, learning from Viv that it had been buried with Chuck. Naturally, when he dug up the coffin, he discovered no body. Nobody at all.

This show is really almost too good for TV. The dialog is sharp and tart and funny. The plots goofy and fun. An episode this good, in fact, makes me want to believe in magic. Maybe then we could magically make the Nielsen ratings turn this wonderful show into a certifiable hit.

Pushing Daisies' Photos

    PUSHING DAISIES Missi Pyle and Peter Cambor in the episode Bzzzzzzzzz! Chuck goes undercover as a Bee Girl at a honey-based cosmetics company after their new spokesmodel (guest star Autumn Reeser) is stung to death. She soon discovers that office politics are killer (literally) between the founder (guest star Missi Pyle as Betty Bee) and the new owner (guest star French Stewart as Woolsey Nicholls). Meanwhile, Ned cant stand her growing independence or the fact that she wants to move out of his apartment. In other developments, Lily spirits Olive off to a nunnery so she won't spill Lily's deep, dark secret. Airs Wednesday, October 1, 2008.

    ABC

    PUSHING DAISIES Anna Friel as Charlotte "Chuck" Charles star in the episode "Circus Circus"- Ned, Chuck and Emerson search for a missing teen (guest star Hayley McFarland as Nikki Heaps) who's run off to the circus . . . a circus where people keep turning up dead. Meanwhile, overcome with guilt, Lily pays Olive a visit at the nunnery. Airs Wednesday, October 8, 2008.

    ABC

    PUSHING DAISIES Chi McBride as Emerson Cod, Lee Pace as Ned and Anna Friel as Charlotte "Chuck" Charles star in the episode "Circus Circus"- Ned, Chuck and Emerson search for a missing teen (guest star Hayley McFarland as Nikki Heaps) who's run off to the circus . . . a circus where people keep turning up dead. Meanwhile, overcome with guilt, Lily pays Olive a visit at the nunnery. Airs Wednesday, October 8, 2008.

    ABC

    PUSHING DAISIES Anna Friel as Charlotte "Chuck" Charles and Lee Pace as Ned star in the episode "Circus Circus"- Ned, Chuck and Emerson search for a missing teen (guest star Hayley McFarland as Nikki Heaps) who's run off to the circus . . . a circus where people keep turning up dead. Meanwhile, overcome with guilt, Lily pays Olive a visit at the nunnery. Airs Wednesday, October 8, 2008.

    ABC

    PUSHING DAISIES Anna Friel as Charlotte "Chuck" Charles and Lee Pace as Ned star in the episode "Circus Circus"- Ned, Chuck and Emerson search for a missing teen (guest star Hayley McFarland as Nikki Heaps) who's run off to the circus . . . a circus where people keep turning up dead. Meanwhile, overcome with guilt, Lily pays Olive a visit at the nunnery. Airs Wednesday, October 8, 2008.

    ABC

    PUSHING DAISIES Lee Pace as Ned star in the episode "Circus Circus"- Ned, Chuck and Emerson search for a missing teen (guest star Hayley McFarland as Nikki Heaps) who's run off to the circus . . . a circus where people keep turning up dead. Meanwhile, overcome with guilt, Lily pays Olive a visit at the nunnery. Airs Wednesday, October 8, 2008.

    ABC

    PUSHING DAISIES Anna Friel as Charlotte "Chuck" Charles star in the episode "Circus Circus"- Ned, Chuck and Emerson search for a missing teen (guest star Hayley McFarland as Nikki Heaps) who's run off to the circus . . . a circus where people keep turning up dead. Meanwhile, overcome with guilt, Lily pays Olive a visit at the nunnery. Airs Wednesday, October 8, 2008.

    ABC

    PUSHING DAISIES Lee Pace as Ned, Anna Friel as Charlotte "Chuck" Charles and Chi McBride as Emerson star in the episode "Circus Circus"- Ned, Chuck and Emerson search for a missing teen (guest star Hayley McFarland as Nikki Heaps) who's run off to the circus . . . a circus where people keep turning up dead. Meanwhile, overcome with guilt, Lily pays Olive a visit at the nunnery. Airs Wednesday, October 8, 2008.

    ABC

    PUSHING DAISIES Chi McBride as Emerson Cod and Lee Pace as Ned star in the episode "Circus Circus"- Ned, Chuck and Emerson search for a missing teen (guest star Hayley McFarland as Nikki Heaps) who's run off to the circus . . . a circus where people keep turning up dead. Meanwhile, overcome with guilt, Lily pays Olive a visit at the nunnery. Airs Wednesday, October 8, 2008.

    ABC

    PUSHING DAISIES Chi McBride as Emerson Cod and Lee Pace as Ned star in the episode "Circus Circus"- Ned, Chuck and Emerson search for a missing teen (guest star Hayley McFarland as Nikki Heaps) who's run off to the circus . . . a circus where people keep turning up dead. Meanwhile, overcome with guilt, Lily pays Olive a visit at the nunnery. Airs Wednesday, October 8, 2008.

    ABC

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tracey

You know, it never occurred to me until this episode: do we know Ned's last name? Because I noticed that the watches had CC (Charles Charles) and DD (Dwight Dixon), and I found myself wondering if Ned's father's name was also a double letter... only to realize that I didn't know Ned's father's given name, or Ned's surname! I looked on the show's website, on IMDB, on TV.com, and nobody seems to have a record of the surname. Has it ever been used in the series?

Re "Herrmann": Hmn... I took that completely differently, thinking of German. "Herr" means "Mr." and "Mann" means "man," and it was prounced as you would pronounce "Herr Mann" in German, so I took it that his stage name was Mr. Man. Well, I thought it was funny. A tie to the Hermano joke from Arrested Development seems a bit of a stretch.

November 20 2008 at 3:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to tracey's comment
Mark

Not really in the context of the episode: It's about brothers, as were the two "hermano" eps of AD. And Ned's brothers are already calling him "frere", so the writers are substituting a foreign word for brother when the actual English word would work just as well. Basically they're throwing in brother references all over the place, but none of that would be a convincing AD reference if the brothers hadn't (twice as I recall) corrected people about being "Illuuuusionists".

Incidentally, there was a French magician named "The Great Herrmann" about a century ago.

November 20 2008 at 4:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ashley Boyd

Ned's surname has never been given (presuming its not "the Piemaker" as some people have jokingly suggested.)

And while we're on it. Chuck's first name isn't Lonely Tourist either. Contrary to popular belief ;)

November 20 2008 at 7:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
leah

Your quote at the beginning was my favorite. My cable was messing up last night, so I got my dad to watch with me on his tv and on that part, he's like, did he just say... And I'm like yep, I love this show.

I liked the curtains. I didn't think it was over the top at all. It fit in perfectly with the show.

November 20 2008 at 11:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Happy Steve

Gotta say... Kerri Kenney (from Reno 911!, Viva Variety, The State, etc...) looks really good in long red hair. :)

November 20 2008 at 11:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John D\'arc

that odd little cutaway, showing the Geek trading cement blocks. How did that happen? The twins grabbed the scarf from the block, and then somehow, it ended up in the ground. Huge plot hole? How could the block have been switched?

November 20 2008 at 5:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to John D\'arc's comment
Dan Chichian

The twins could only grad half the scarf from the block as the rest was around Hermann's neck.

They showed how the block slid down the stage ramp into the prepared hole. Granted it is still a plot hole since the police coroner would not have left the evidence unattended.

November 20 2008 at 9:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark

By the way, there were a few sly references to other shows with equally sharp writing. The twins correcting people that they're "Illuuuuusionists" rather than magicians is straight out of Arrested Development. And the pronunciation of "The Great Herrmann" like the Spanish word "Hermano" is a little reference to an Arrested Development plotline about GOB trying to find out who "Hermano" was. He can't remember that Hermano means brother, but he can remember the word for brother in many other languages, including the French word, "frere", which of course the twins used in tonight's episode to refer to Ned.

Additionally, Stephen Root's character was named "Dixon Dale", a double initial just like his Newsradio character Jimmy James.

ABC sucks. They could have kept the ratings up for this show if they had only bothered to re-run the first season during the summer. I don't know why they thought they could take a successful show that only had nine episodes under its belt and had been off the air for eight months and expect, with no advertising or airing of previous episodes, get right back on that horse. If PD gets cancelled, it's entirely on ABC's shoulders.

Both Newsradio and Arrested Development were brilliantly written shows that struggled with ratings due to their network's apathy. The references in tonight's episode to those two shows aren't coincidences, they're cautionary tales.

November 20 2008 at 4:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Mark's comment
Chi

It wasn't GOB that was looking to find out who "Hermano" was, that was Nichael ("Michael"). Thanks for pointing out the references in this excellent episode though!

November 20 2008 at 6:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark

Actually, Samuel, both GOB and Michael were looking for Hermano ("Marta Complex"), but Michael learned what the word meant and that Marta was interested in him before GOB. The next episode, "Beef Consomme", is where GOB is able to recall every other foreign word for brother except hermano.

November 20 2008 at 7:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ryan

I'm going to stop with all the "doom and gloom" of the possibility of cancellation and focus, like I always have, with how awesomely wonderful this show is.

And this episode... oh man. Just so much heart and so much laughs and it's just like nothing on TV right now.

November 20 2008 at 1:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BC McKinney

"This show is really almost too good for TV."

Sort of like when somebody says someone died because they were too good to exist in our evil world. There have been other shows I like that I have been sorry to see go too early because I thought they were really good, but the fact that so few people give this show a try really frustrates me. Because I genuinely feel that anyone who can watch it and not be charmed--by the writing, the characters, the performances--should have their membership card in the human race revoked. I generally dislike "family" shows and I have a low tolerance for treacle and schmaltz, but this show does sentiment the right way.

The twins have a good effect on Ned's misanthropy, and I hope they stay around awhile. My favorite part that you didn't mention was when Olive finally got depressed by the animals' deaths and Ned reminded her that there were a dog and pig at home who needed to be cared for, and she felt perky again.

I wasn't as bothered by the red curtain effect--I wonder, in fact, if it was somehow a nod or homage to Baz Luhrman.

November 20 2008 at 1:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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