Thursday, March 18, 2010

Daisies Ways Not To Die #3


The facts are these! Pushing Daisies creator Bryan Fuller has kindly, amazingly agreed to take over MNPP's "Thursday's Ways Not To Die" series every third Thursday of the month to chat with us about one of the death scenes from the beloved series. There's more of an introduction here in the inaugural post, but let's just slap on our bedazzled Darling Mermaid Darlings fins and dive head-first into this week's installment, shall we? (We shall!)

Pushing Daisies
Episode #7 - "Smell of Success"

MNPP: Where did the inspiration for this death come from? From the serial-killer-esque scrapbook of real life deaths tucked under your mattress, or just birthed from a fertile imagination?

Bryan Fuller: This episode was crafted right around the time everyone and their g dash d damned dog was espousing the life lessons of “The Secret,” and we in the Pushing Daisies writers’ room were sick to death of it. So we wanted “The Secret” to kill somebody.

MNPP: And what came first when writing the episode – the idea for this way of dying, or the setting / plot surrounding it?

BF: I believe death by Scratch’n’Sniff came first and then we decided the Scratch’n’Sniff should be a self-help book, ala “The Secret.”

The episode quickly expanded to include the world of children’s literature, or rather, children-adjacent literature – in particular, the pop-up book. The pop-up book served two purposes: one, I’m obsessed with pop-up books so it made me happy; two, I knew I wanted Emerson Cod to write a pop-up book that would eventually lead to the reunion with his daughter.

The pop-up book obsession was a hold-over from the original incarnation of Olive when she was a lesbian pop-up book designer who got fired after switching all of the “Jack and Jill” pop-up books with “Jill and Jill” pop-up books.

MNPP: Any memorable shooting shenanigans?

BF: This was actually the second character Paul Reubens was cast to play on Daisies. He was originally cast as Alfredo Aldarisio in our third episode “Fun in Funeral” and crafted a classic Paul Reubens character that Barry Sonnenfeld and I were mad for.

Paul Reubens playing Alfredo, before being re-cast

However, ABC felt strongly that Alfredo should be less fun and more romantic so we re-cast the role with the very dreamy and very romantic Raúl Esparza.

Dreamy? Check. Romantic? Check. Lightly bearded? Check.

We then immediately cast Paul Reubens as Oscar Vibenius and had our pie and ate it, too.

For Oscar’s sanitation worker uniform, Emmy Award Winning Costume Designer Bob Blackman and I talked about a set of costumes Bob designed when we first worked together on Star Trek: Voyager. The costumes were for an alien species called the Malon and in the episode “Juggernaut” they were, in fact, sanitation workers cleaning up waste in outer space. Oscar’s uniform and the Malon uniforms were all made from the same rubbery, iridescent green fabric. Maybe not a shenanigan, but a fun fact.

MNPP: Were there any winks and/or nudges intended towards other shows / movies or pop culture iconography that inspired the scene?

BF: When it came to the small matter of poor Anita Gray (Sarah Jayne Jensen) and her violent Scratch’n’Sniff demise, we had many a discussion about the smoking charred corpse from Beetlejuice. We very much wanted to emulate his “blackened tree after a forest fire” aesthetic.

A match made in matchsticks.

We talked about Anita’s eyes and whether or not they should have the appearance of hard-boiled eggs and decided she was much funnier with irises and pupils.

Oscar Vibenius was named after Swedish exploitation filmmaker Bo Arne Vibenius, whose signature film “They Call Her One Eye” coincidentally featured an eye-patched, ginger-haired heroine not unlike Daisies’ own Lily Charles, Swoosie Kurtz.

They call them two eyes total.

For Oscar’s musical theme, Emmy Award Winning Composer Jim Dooley used the oboe and homaged the creepy otherworldly quality that Jerry Goldsmith gave the instrument in his score for the original “Alien.” We wanted Oscar to have the same kind of menace in his sewer realm that the alien had in the dark recesses of the Nostromo. Maybe not the exact same kind, but in the same grocery aisle of menace.

Also, C.H.U.D. And I know you know what a C.H.U.D. is.

MNPP: Was there anything you couldn’t show because of network restrictions?

BF: Once again, the twin beauties of Kristen Chenoweth’s bosom were issue. We had to crop a few shots to minimize the heaving undulations of oxygen-intake during the scene where Chuck catches Olive trying on the Darling Mermaid Darling swim suits.

And the sewer. Somehow the sewer was a huge issue for the network. When you say sewer to someone like me, someone steeped in the genre traditions of 70’s and 80’s horror classics like “Alligator” and “C.H.U.D.,” someone like me will think about a scary underworld filled with monstrous possibility. But if you say sewer to a network executive, they think about poop and pooping and where poop comes from and where poop goes and what poop smells like. It’s a narrow world view, yes, but unfortunately one that required that we narrow our view of the sewer world on Daisies. The notion of sending a note to Paul Reubens’ Oscar Vibenius character by flushing it down the toilet was met with barely contained revulsion. We’ll save that gag for the comic.

MNPP: On a scale of natural causes to being struck by a falling space-station toilet seat, how bad a death do you consider this to be? If you had to pick one of your deaths as your way of going, would this be the one?

BF: Like the meteoric toilet seat, this one seemed more or less like an instantaneous death. So right off the bat, I’m more comfortable. But the real honey in this honey bear, was Anita going out with the loving memory of her dearly departed grandmother smoking out the cancer-induced hole in her throat. If I can go out in a flash with a fond memory like the one Anita was mulling over, well, sign me up.


And with that a third third Thursday of thrilling Daisies deaths has been put to rest. Three down, however many more to come... to come. My thanks to Mr. Fuller for his enthusiastic participation, and to y'all... for being y'all. And as a final note of grace, here's the amazing Ellen Greene covering "Morning Has Broken" also from this episode, because I have literally woken up with this stuck in my head every single day this week. And lemme tell you what... that is a lovely way to wake up.

. .

Previous Ways Not To Die: The Victim of a Viscous Hit & Run -- Curled -- Kabobbed -- Daisies Ways #2 - Aggravated Cementia -- Boo! Nun! -- 2009's Ways Not To Die -- Bug Scratch Fever -- Daisies Ways #1 - Deep Fat Fried in My Own Unique Blend of 500 Herbs & Spices -- By the Yard End of the Stick -- Screwed From A Very Great Distance -- A Righteous Bear-Jew Beatdown -- Fisted By Hugo Sitglitz -- Xeno Morphed -- Fuck-Stuck -- A Vengeful Elevator God: Part 4 -- Lava Bombed -- The Cradle Will Rock... Your Face Off!!! -- The Food of the Nilbog Goblins -- The Slugs Is Gonna Gitcha -- Phone Shark -- Hide The Carrot -- Sarlacc Snacked -- Avada Kedavra!!! -- Hooked, Lined and Sinkered -- "The Libyans!" -- Axe Me No Questions -- Pin the Chainsaw on the Prostitute -- The Wrath of the Crystal Unicorn -- The Ultimate Extreme Make-Over -- Drown In A Sink Before The Opening Credits Even Roll -- The Dog Who Knew Too Much -- Don't Die Over Spilled Milk -- Inviting the Wrath of Aguirre -- An Inconceivable Outwitting -- The Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique -- Nipple Injected Blue Junk -- Your Pick Of The Deadly Six -- Thing Hungry -- Don't Fuck With The Serial Killer's Daughter -- DO Forget To Add The Fabric Softener -- Any Of The Ways Depicted In This Masterpiece Of Lost Cinema -- Rode Down In The Friscalating Dusklight -- Good Morning, Sunshine! -- Mornin' Cuppa Drano -- The Cylon-Engineered Apocalypse -- Tender-Eye-zed -- Martian Atmospheric Asphyxiation -- Maimed By A Mystical Person-Cat -- The Sheets Are Not To Be Trusted -- Handicapable Face-Hacked -- I Did It For You, Faramir -- Summertime In The Park... Of A Pedophile's Mind -- A Vengeful Elevator God: Part 3 -- Strung Up With Festive Holiday Bulbs By Santa Claus Himself -- A Vengeful Elevator God: Part 2 -- A Vengeful Elevator God: Part 1 -- Decapitated Plucked Broiled & Sliced -- Head On A Stick! -- A Trip To The Ol' Wood-Chipper -- Pointed By The T-1000 -- Sucking Face With Freddy Krueger -- A Pen-Full Of Home-Brewed Speed to The Eye -- Motivational Speech, Interrupted -- A Freak Ephemera Storm -- When Ya Gotta Go... Ya Gotta Go -- Hoisted By Your Own Hand Grenade -- Having The Years Suction-Cupped Away -- Criss-Cross -- Turned Into A Person-Cocoon By The Touch Of A Little Girl's Mirror Doppleganger -- Satisfying Society's "Pop Princess" Blood-Lust -- Done In By The Doggie Door -- Tuned Out -- Taking the 107th Step -- Rescuing Gretchen -- Incinerated By Lousy Dialogue -- Starred & Striped Forever -- Vivisection Via Vaginally-Minded Barbed-Wire -- Chompers (Down There) -- Run Down By M. Night Shyamalan -- Everything Up To And Including The Kitchen Toaster -- Sacrificed To Kali -- Via The Gargantuan Venom Of The Black Mamba Snake -- Turned Into An Evil Robot -- The Out-Of-Nowhere Careening Vehicle Splat -- "Oh My God... It's Dip!!!" -- Critter Balled -- Stuff'd -- A Hot-Air Balloon Ride... Straight To Hell!!! -- Puppy Betrayal -- High-Heeled By A Girlfriend Impersonator -- Flip-Top Beheaded -- Because I'm Too Goddamned Beautiful To Live -- By Choosing... Poorly... -- Fried Alive Due To Baby Ingenuity -- A Good Old-Fashioned Tentacle Smothering -- Eepa! Eepa! -- Gremlins Ate My Stairlift -- An Icicle Thru The Eye -- Face Carved Off By Ghost Doctor After Lesbian Tryst With Zombie Women -- Electrocuted By Fallen Power-Lines -- A Mouthful Of Flare -- Taken By The TV Lady -- Bitten By A Zombie -- Eaten By Your Mattress -- Stuffed To Splitting -- Face Stuck In Liquid Nitrogen -- Crushed By Crumbling Church Debris -- Bitten By The Jaws Of Life -- A Machete To The Crotch -- Showering With A Chain-Saw -- In A Room Filled With Razor Wire -- Pod People'd With Your Dog -- Force-Fed Art -- Skinned By A Witch -- Beaten With An Oar -- Curbed -- Cape Malfunction -- In The Corner -- Cooked In A Tanning Bed -- Diced -- Punched Through The Head -- Bugs Sucking On Your Head


homeslaughter said...

A great episode and a great post. These interviews make me miss the show so much. It was surprising that Polyester wasn't mentioned as inspiration.

Jason Adams said...

Oh if only there had been a scratch n' sniff card that went along with the episode! That would've been awesome.

JLang said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you...and thank you again for your amazing work!! I'm a big fan from Spain and I'm quite excited for everything that you and Bryan Fuller have to tell us :D
I've spent months working on my blog (in Spanish) and traying to keep Pushing Daisies "alive again" but it's so much interesting. Thank you very much for this :D

Drew said...

That song makes me cry every single time I hear it. Thanks for posting it and doing this series of entries!

My God I miss that show though. Every single one of the executives who had a hand in the cancellation of that show deserves to get fried in the colonel's secret recipe. Or maybe not, thats too tasty a death for them...

nikki said...

Another great interview! Thanks as always to you and also Bryan for being such a willing participant.

I loved this bit "The notion of sending a note to Paul Reubens’ Oscar Vibenius character by flushing it down the toilet was met with barely contained revulsion. We’ll save that gag for the comic" for two reasons. First, it's a great idea :) And second, because it refers to the comics. I'm so pathetically desperate for them I get excited by ANY mention of them :)

Also loved the mention of the boobtastic Cheno endowments. When we watched this episode at my Pushing Daisies parties, it's a room full of women just in complete awe of their spectacularness. She is the only woman I know who makes cleavage tasteful.

Thanks for the clip at the end. We on the TWoP forums often wondered if the little "Suddenly Seymour" lilt to the song was intentional or subliminal (I didn't even point that out and my hubby just started whistling it after hearing the song play).

Thanks again. Looking forward to the next third Thursday as well as any comic book news.