pushing daisies, amelie and ip claims

I don’t watch much TV at all but by coincidence caught part of this new show, called Pushing Daisies. Overall, I liked what I saw – interesting premise, well told plot, good acting, and keen attention to pacing, cinematography (if one can use that term for a TV show), music, colour, etc.

But something struck me within the first 10 minutes of watching it – something oddly familiar. Not the stories, but rather, the whole look and feel of how it was presented – like: the sometimes oddly surrealistic but realistic presentation of scenes (exaggerated or bright colours, quirky but cute interiors (and exteriors); unusual and repeated focus on otherwise insignificant details (ages down to the hour of each character – oh and also by an omnipresent unknown third party voice over storyteller); oddly familiar patterns of speech – sometimes quick and rapid bursts of somewhat deadpan humour; curious static shots of people or things with some sort of special effect, like zooming away or seeing through something; oddly familiar patterns of music; eccentric but lovable characters like Chuck’s two aunts; eccentric backstories of characters (Chuck’s aunts again – who had wonderful careers as synchonized swimmers until devastingly felled by contaminated kitter litter); oh, and of course, oddly tragic (albeit someone humourous) events that people undergo (see the aunts) as well as oddly humourous but sometimes well-deserved deaths (like that of a rather fat thieving undertaker).

And then I suddenly realized that what I was watching was a show that, for lack of a better word, had (intentionally or unintentionally) “borrowed” the entire look and feel of “Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain”. Not the story, mind you, not that at all. But rather a multitude of little bits and pieces that all go into how a story is told.

I marvelled, for a moment, at what a great job the creators of the show had done in transposing the look and feel of that movie into the series, and wondered how much effort (if any) went into deliberately attempting to create or invoke the look, feel and mood of Amélie (which, by the way, they do quite well). Then, needless to say (given my profession), I ruminated about which intellectual property laws, if any, could the owners of Amélie used to protect the “look and feel” of their film. Certainly most people (even non-lawyers) are familiar with the Apple v. Microsoft look and feel case back in the 90s (which tried to base a claim in copyright and didn’t get very far if I recall correctly). It would be interesting to see how that would play out in the context of something like a movie or similar work. Not that I’d like to see that happen to Pushing Daisies – its already tough enough to find decent shows…