Many years ago, when I was pretending to be a functioning adult – what most people call ‘doing a post grad degree’ – I happened upon a TV show that was so vibrant, so colourful, so lyrical that I became obsessed. ‘Pushing Daisies’ was a wonderfully dark but incessantly bright show that, despite its dedicated cult audience, was sadly cancelled after just two seasons. Not only did the stars – the impossibly talented Kristin Chenoweth, the suave but naive Lee Pace, and delightfully quirky Anna Friel – make the show but the vivd colours and witty set design along with the off-beat but perfect dialogue and streamline jokes left me craving more. And to this day, every time I watch ‘Pushing Daisies’, I feel a burning desire to create something that’s that simple and yet complex to the point that I feel like a child again.
And so started my relationship with Bryan Fuller. What I didn’t realise is that I had actually been in a covert relationship with this brilliant mind for years prior to my ‘Pushing Daisies’ discovery. An ex-boyfriend of mine had insisted we watch ‘Star Trek Voyager’ together during my closeted geek phase. Despite trying to hide it, I found myself tittering at the subtle jokes and one-liners and truly appreciating the wonder of ‘Star Trek’ once more. Fast forward the best part of a decade to 2013 where I have become a part of the Fullerverse – in spirit at least.
Please bear in mind that I was also unaware of the Bryan Fuller effect until many years later… this year in fact. Being a spoilt, multimedia brat, I have Netflix, Lovefilm, more DVDs and BluRays than I care to admit and a flurry of other media outlets to entertain me. During that horrible lull in seasonal TV, I decided to take a step back in time and catch up on some shows I missed out on. Shows that people may have forgotten about but I always knew I had to watch. One of those shows was ‘Dead Like Me’.
When I lived at home with mum and dad, I always saw adverts for ‘Dead Like Me’, but being an impatient channel hopper, never sat down to watch it. I was instantly blown away by the dry, nonchalant performance from Ellen Muth and the fact that within 10 minutes of watching the pilot episode, you were already wrapped in this universe by a character who opened up but still kept you at arms length. Introduce the childhood favourite, Mandy Patinkin, the blunderously charming Callum Blue and later the likeably annoying Laura Harris and you have magic. But it wasn’t the cast that dragged me into this tale of death and soul capturing, it’s the fact that the world is so complete that you accidentally forget reality while watching it. I started to believe in gentle grim reapers and I saw the trails of Gravelings when something suddenly fell off the shelf – all because I wanted this magical universe to be real.
I recently completed the entire two seasons and watched the follow-up movie of this once again but quite fittingly prematurely deceased show and have happily rewatched episodes to find little details I had previously missed and to gain an understanding of how these magnificent worlds are formed.
But from the light with underlying darkness comes the dark with a glimmering light. Fuller’s most recent adventure captivated me in a story I never thought would grip my being so whole-heartedly that I would actually go back to the story from scratch and devour all the information I could. ‘Hannibal’ is a grotesquely exquisite piece of television which should repulse you but sucks you in due to its beauty. And I’m not just talking about it’s (once again) impressive cast – Hugh Dancy as Will Graham, Laurence Fishburne as Jack Crawford and the impossibly charming and intriguing Mads Mikklesen as Hannibal Lecter – the sickening yet beguiling deaths along with the crisp set designs, blue hue and rhythmic dialogue had me hook line and sinker. The show that plays on your every fear – a monster under the bed, not knowing if you can trust yourself, not knowing if you can trust those you who know you best – makes you also forget that your fears and replace them with questioning.
I will, one day soon, write more about each of these shows but I feel I have rambled on to the point where, should Mr Fuller read this, he would be quite pleased that we have a massive ocean between us. So on a final note, I encourage anyone with a penchant for the make-believe to delve into the Fullerverse for it has taught me that death doesn’t have to be dark and beauty doesn’t have to be bright blue skies and cherry pies… but they do help.