The fall television lineup promises an array of new comedies and dramas that will attempt to entertain its audience. But curiously enough, two of those shows have decided to approach a peculiar topic: death.
“First touch life, second touch dead forever.” That’s not the most inspiring tagline of the fall 2007 television season, but certainly one of the most intriguing.
The show with that unexpected hook is Pushing Daisies, which airs Oct. 3, at 8 p.m. on ABC. It’s a fantastical, visually dazzling hour-long program that has completely set up residence in the realm of dark comedy.
The show revolves around Ned (Lee Pace), a man who can bring people back from the dead with a single touch. This gift might seem incredible, but it comes with a catch. One touch brings you back, but a second leaves you without a pulse, something that young Ned learns the hard way. When he finds himself strapped for cash, he inadvertently becomes partners with private investigator Emerson Cod (Chi McBride), who convinces him to bring murder victims back from the dead in order to solve their murders and then collect the reward money.
Complicating things further is the return of Ned’s childhood sweetheart Charlotte “Chuck” Charles (Anna Friel), who finds herself the victim of a mysterious murder at sea. Ned revives her in order to discover who killed her, but finds he can’t bring himself to send her back to the afterlife.
Chuck becomes the third partner in the murder-solving scheme and Ned is left to wonder how he can be so near to the only woman he has ever loved, without being able to touch her.
Pushing Daisies is a fully realized vision. The characters are captivating, the dialogue is quirky, and the cinematography leaps off the screen. Everything is held together by a slightly playful narration, making Daises seem more like a macabre fairy tale than the usual prime time fare. Created by Bryan Fuller (Heroes, Wonderfalls), Pushing Daisies promises to be one of this season’s most original new shows.
The comedy Reaper poses some interesting questions. What would you do if you found out your parents sold your soul to the devil? Would you laugh? Cry? Suddenly start going to the chapel every Sunday? This dilemma is what one average guy faces in Reaper, which premiered this past Tuesday on the CW at 9 p.m.
The pilot episode, directed by Kevin Smith (Clerks) introduces viewers to Sam (Bret Harrison), who thought everything in his life was going great. Well, sort of great. Sure, he didn’t go to college and sure, he has a dead-end job selling home improvement supplies at the local Work Bench. But that doesn’t mean his life is over, right? Wrong.
On Sam’s twenty-first birthday, he finds out his life was never really his in the first place. Before he was even born, his parents sold his soul to the devil (a suit-clad Ray Wise), and now Sam has to spend the rest of his life being Satan’s bounty hunter, collecting evil-doers that have escaped from Hell. Best of all, he has to do it with an assortment of evil soul receptacles, starting with a Dirt Devil.
Along with his slacker best friend Bert (Tyler Labine), Sam sets out to find the evil undead, all the while trying to get up the nerve to ask out his co-worker and longtime crush Andi (Missy Peregrym).
Sam realizes that vacuuming up wicked souls isn’t as easy as he thought it would be, and that this bounty-hunting job might actually cut his life of servitude short.
Reaper is a mish-mash of genres; it’s a buddy comedy with a hint of mystery and a dash of romance, making it a show that has a little something for everyone.
It’s not the first time that the devil’s bounty hunter idea has been done, but Reaper is an overall entertaining package that is funny enough to attract even the most jaded television viewer.
Two shows that address death and the afterlife might seem a little too morbid. Even worse, the shows might be something viewers have seen before. But both Reaper and Pushing Daisies deliver intriguing stories. Only time — and ratings — will tell.