Would you bother with a non-Blu Ray copy of Pushing Daisies?

A few months ago I plowed my way through both seasons of Pushing Daisies and absolutely loved it. One thing that I noticed in every episode was how much attention was paid to the set design and in particular the colors and patterns. It doesn’t really play in to the plot, but I think it adds a lot to the show overall. After I finished with the series I was reading the wiki page and found they have a section dedicated to the visual design, so it’s not just something I noticed, it’s something they clearly put a lot of time and effort into.

Anyways, while I was watching it, I was bugging my sister to watch it as well but she never got around to it and a few days ago I decided it might be a good Christmas gift for her. She lives with a couple of friends and I know they have a large (50" or so) TV in the main part of their apartment, but I don’t think they have a blu-ray player connected to it.

I’m probably over thinking this, but I remember really enjoying all the details that went into the show and I’m worried she might miss some of that on a regular DVD player, even if it’s on large TV (but if she gets the regular DVDs she’s going to watch it on her older 4:3, smallish cheap LCD TV).

So anyways, is it worth it to pick this up on regular DVD if they don’t have a Blu-Ray player or should I just figure something else out and save this idea for another year when she does have one?

At the rate Bluray player prices are dropping, and the high prices TV shows on Bluray cost compared to the DVD version, pretty soon it will cost more to buy them the TV show than to just buy them a player.

But I would say just go for the DVD for now, if they really like it, they can always buy it on Bluray later if they want to enhance it.

I watched the show on an SD set, and didn’t feel like I was missing out terribly.

I’ve got it on DVD and I can’t see any reason why you wouldn’t bother with it O.o

I’d agree - I mean, I enjoyed the show very much, but it isn’t like it’s Lawrence of Arabia or anything.

Even Lawrence of Arabia isn’t Lawrence of Arabia.

I don’t have blue-ray and see no advantage to it (other than the bright lights; and I don’t care for the lack of realism in the video).

And I also have a DVD version of Pushing Daisies. There’s nothing that needs to be added since, after all, what makes the show work is the script and the characters. The set design is only a trivial element of any movie or TV show, and if you notice it at all, then it’s failed.

I agree that the writing and acting and directing on Pushing Daisies were wonderful, but to ignore the visual feel of the show is kind of shallow. The saturated colors and whimsical design were as much a part of the show’s “personality” as the writing and acting and directing. It would still be a great show on a black & white TV, but it would be missing something important.

ETA: Not that I think Blu-Ray is necessary to enjoy all aspects of the show…we enjoyed it perfectly well on a lo-def TV in first-run.

Sorry…“shallow” isn’t a good word for what I’m thinking. “Short-sighted”, maybe?

Thank you. I was waiting to see if anyone else would say anything before I chimed in again. Yes, often times, the set designers have failed if you noticed their work, it’s supposed to blend in with the background. But if you can watch a show like Pushing Daisies and not notice things like the storefront or the tilework or the general over the topness of the whole show, that’s like going to an art museum and only noticing that they chose to use eggshell instead of matte paint on the walls. The sets (and costumes) on this show weren’t meant to blend into the background, they were very much meant to stand out…vibrantly. Hence me asking if I should wait until my sister gets a Blu-Ray player. If you didn’t notice the set design on a show like this, I think it failed you. I’d suggest you re-watch it and actively watch for it. It really does add quite a bit to the show.

It’s also worth noting that their art department/costume designers/set decorators/etc won several awards (including an Emmy) and were nominated for several others (including an Emmy) over their brief two season stint.

That’s just about as nutty a view of a visual medium like TV or film as I’ve ever heard. If you notice it it’s failed? There are some beautifully designed films and TV, and surely that’s something to be enjoyed and celebrated. Obviously, bad set design or visuals can be overlooked in a way that that bad stories and characterisation can’t (or no-one would have ever watched any Doctor Who), but that doesn’t mean they don’t add a lot to a story when they’re done well.

I mean can you imagine enjoying something like Mad Men or the Lord Of The Rings movies as much without those gorgeous visuals?

Right. I was watching Mildred Pierce a few months ago (the 1945 version with Joan Crawford, not the recent remake), and one of the things I noticed was the way the director used light and mirrors to evoke mood and drama. Mildred Pierce probably still would have been a good movie without it, but the set and lighting design turned a good movie into a great one.

And even “What Dreams May Come”, which really wasn’t that good a movie, was worth watching for set design alone, because it’s one of the most beautiful movies I’ve seen.

The details in PD definitely add to the show, but is your sister the sort of person who pays attention to that level of detail?

The story would hold up far better in B&W (actually, it would hold up almost completely) than if you showed the characters standing around the pretty sets and colors and saying and doing nothing.

The visuals are just surface, the easiest part of graphic art. Being impressed by it like being impressed by how close a National Lampoon parody matches the original – as though choosing the typeface is some sort of high art.

LOTR in B&W is just as good as it is in color. LOTR characters standing around the sets and saying nothing would be deadly boring.

The point of visuals is to stay in the background and serve the story. If they don’t serve the story, they are detracting from it.

Well, I don’t enjoy Mad Men all that much – the writing is sloppy and the image of the 60s wildly wrong (it’s a cartoon version of the era, and most of what I’ve seen was filled with things that were completely deaf to the realities).

But as for LOTR, the point is to say, “are the characters going to survive the battle?” not “man, does the battle scenery look gorgeous!”

Read Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics for a view of what I’m talking about: the visuals of any movie or TV show are surface, which is easy to create and the flashiest and most impressive at first glance. But though surface is necessary, mere surface is trivial and sixth after Idea/Purpose, Form, Idiom, Structure, and Craft. Pushing Daisies (or any other art) is great because of those, not surface.

Come again?

Of course you can’t have the actors standing around and doing nothing. But can you imagine them standing on a theater stage delivering their lines? I don’t think so. You’re thinking of visual effects. They are meant to blend in so you don’t notice them. But how does a sweeping helicopter shot of the fellowship going over a mountaintop serve the story? That is pure visuals, and to say and it would be just as good in B&W is… disingenious.

While I wouldn’t say that the visuals in Pushing Daisies weren’t important (they did add greatly to the show), I think they show well enough on DVD. The colors and patterns will still pop and the visual world of that set will still be very apparent.
Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good.

He’s not saying that the shot would be just as good in B&W. He’s saying the work would be just as good if that shot were absent. He’s making the argument that aesthetics have very little to do with the value of any motion picture. Black and white is just an example–he could just as easily say that the show would be just as good if it were a series of short stories.

I don’t agree, but it is an opinion a lot of people have. I personally just find that reading about something is good enough.

As for my opinion: if I’m going to watch it on an HDTV, then I want to watch it in HD. LCDs already makes the image look worse with their discrete pixels and subpixels. No point in making it worse by relying on upscaling algorithms. Plus, chances are the the Blu-ray has more special features, which is the only reason I’d ever buy a TV series on disk in the first place.

That said, I’d prefer to watch it on a CRT, where a DVD is more than sufficient.

A good Blu-ray transfer on a largish HDTV with proper settings will look much better than a DVD. If anything it will look more realistic than the DVD, not less.

Unfortunately many people are ignorant about properly setting up their systems, or are unwilling to admit that their CRT and DVD collection aren’t as good as the newer technology, and so they pretend that blu-ray isn’t really better than DVD. Or maybe their eyesight just isn’t very good anymore.

Movies and television are a visual medium. Of course the visuals matter! Color is generally more visually appealing to us than black and white. LOTR is not as good in B&W. Higher definition is more appealing than lower definition. And when the people involved in making movies take more care to create a visually interesting picture through set design, color palette, lighting, camera movement, etc., then the product is more appealing than if they hadn’t. There’s nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t make one any less sophisticated to admit that they appreciate the visual aspects of a television show.

If those things don’t matter to you, personally, then, well, I believe you are missing out on a significant part of the experience. And because those things do matter to me don’t mean that the story and performances are any less important to me than they are to you. It’s easy to be dismissive and say that visuals are “just surface.” But often it can be the **visuals **that–sometimes very subtly–pull you into the story.

There are HD CRT’s out there. Granted, they’re like 5 years old or more at this point, and that means they don’t have 1080p, but I just like to correct the notion that it’s HD vs CRT. It’s not, it’s LCD vs CRT or HD vs SD. Two separate issues.

I watched the show streaming on Netflix, in whatever compressed resolution they stream at.

I thought it was a horrible and ugly show; I’m sure, though, that if I had watched it on Blu-Ray it would have been good.