Monday, April 14, 2008

Pushing Daisies and Carinvale's Death-Defying Powers

Pushing Daisies premiered this season to much critical acclaim and worry.  It's the type of beautiful, story rich, and quirky show that is usually cancelled one week in.  Luckily it found an audience rather quickly and has been picked up for next season.  This show is full of many supernatural plot lines and trademarks we've seen in other shows viewed this semester, especially our most recent viewing, Carnivale.  However, hopefully it will not repeat the frequent trend of an early cancellation.

Pushing Daisies centers on the story of a boy, Ned, who discovers at a very young age, that he has the ability to bring dead beings back to life.  He also discovers that with this great power also comes consequences, if he touches the formerly
dead person (or animal, or fruit, etc) it will instantly die yet again.  However, if this being is allowed to live for more than one minute another equal entity will die as a result.  These two rules are exemplified when his mother is saved from an aneurism, but a neighbor passes a moment later.  Unfortunately Ned learns a little to late about the "no re-touch" rule a little too late and his mother also passes after a goodnight kiss.

In HBO's Carnivale, one central character, Ben Hawkins, must handle the ability of granting returned life in a similar fashion to the Pushing Daisies' lead.  He has the ability to bring others back to life, but he must accept that someone else has to die in order for this to happen.  Unlike Ben, Ned has some control over his gift (maybe Ben just never learned the one- minute-touching/no re-touching rule).  While Ned's decisions often lead to tension, they never cause any tangible strain on his relationships or prevent him from using his gift.  That is until Chuck discovers the truth, that is.  Chuck (the girl next door growing up) is Ned's childhood sweetheart brought back to life, and his allowing her to remain alive causes the death of an funeral home undertaker (granted he was stealing from dead people, so there's no remorse for his loss of life).  Additionally, it was Chuck's father's death that allowed Ned's mother to return to life for a brief period of time.  Here Ned and Ben's struggle to manage their abilities is most paralleled.  Both have been granted an amazing power, that they are often called on to use, for better or worse.

In addition to the life bringing death comparison, both shows also deal with dualities.  This is clearly evident in Carnivale where its two main characters, Ben and Justin, are pitted against each other in the opening monologue.  One is the creature of darkness, the other of light.  In Pushing Daisies, there is no such specific plot line, however a major theme is of pairings.  Ned has two loves in his life, his true (but untouchable) love Chuck, and the woman in love with him, his coworker Olive.  Additionally, characters introduced are often brothers and sisters, Chuck has two aunts that cared for her after her father's death and Chuck was searching for caring a pair of monkeys when she was murdered (the importance of this has yet to be explained). 

While Carnivale takes a look at good and evil through the power to give some life and take it away from others, generally its more lighthearted on Pushing Daisies.  For the most part, this is a love story about two star crossed lovers brought together by supernatural powers.  And who could use a little of that in our Sci-fi world.

1 comment:

Peg A said...

Interesting--I would not have thought to compare these two shows. Let's hope Pushing Daisies returns to primetime soon!