The pilot for "Pushing Daisies" was one of the best episodes of the entire strike-ridden 2007-2008 season, and the short but sweet first season did its best to maintain that initial quality. That struggle was mostly won, but the rough patches were frequent enough to make me wonder if the series would always be a matter of diminishing returns.
I'm not sure the second season premiere does much to mitigate those fears. For one thing, this is the first episode I've watched in true HD, and while the color palette is wonderful, the budget concessions are glaring. To be fair, the production is so fairy-tale in nature that the rough edges are just as often a clever way to turn relative thrift into intentional style. But this wasn't the tour de force that the pilot represented by any means.
Perhaps it was the need to stuff the episode with enough background information to bring the audience back up to speed, or how long it took the series to return relative to the rest of the shows on the schedule. Whatever it is, I felt like it took a little too long to get back into the Pie Hole groove. And that's even with the opening with Chuck in a cute bustier, and the fact that this country could use a weekly dose of the whimsical these days.
There were plenty of funny moments, and the show hasn't lost its charm. There's the usual Bryan Fuller injection of loose subplots afoot and plenty of character moments to enjoy. But it just may be that the magical qualities of the first season will be harder to rekindle than I had suspected.