TV is pushing up daisies

Pushing Daisies is back! This ABC network show is currently my favorite on the air. Of course, that’s not a hard position to hold. Have you seen the other crap that’s on TV? I mean, Heroes just keeps getting worse with each new episode, and I’d honestly hoped it had reached its nadir with the bitterly disappointing second season. Another show I dearly loved, Bones, seems to have jumped the shark last season with the completely awful resolution to a completely awful “serial killer from a long line of serial killers who kills and eats people in secret societies and makes sculptures from their bones” season-long storyline. I had high hopes for Fringe, which is a show from Bad Robot. Bad Robot produced Alias, and currently produces Lost; unfortunately, Fringe isn’t nearly as good as either of those. It’s a shame, because Alias in particular is a show I revere. I put it up there with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the early years of the X-Files, Arrested Development, and Veronica Mars as one of my favorite shows of all time.

Back on topic, Pushing Daisies deserves your support. It’s a shining light of goodness in a sea of reality TV and lowest-common-denominator garbage. Not since Arrested Development has a show with such quirky style captured my imagination, and I’m worried that it might be too quirky to last. You can watch the show for free on, and I have to believe that a lot of people who read this site might be the kind of people who will fall in love with this show. If not, I’m writing for the wrong place! I wrote it up a few weeks ago in my Add to Queue column, and I’m going to put an edited version of that review after the break in case you missed it. Also, if there’s a show currently running on one of the major networks that you absolutely love, let me know in the comments. I don’t watch much TV, so I’d love to be pointed towards your discoveries.

Ned is a pie-maker with the unique ability to bring the dead back to life. However, if they remain alive more than sixty seconds, something else alive has to die for balance. He finds this out as a young man when he brings his dog back to life. Later, he brings his mom back after she collapses with a brain aneurysm. His childhood sweetheart’s father dies, though, and following that, he learns the second part of his “gift”: anything he touches after they’ve been brought back to life dies again, permanently.

As an adult, he opens a restaurant he calls “The Pie Hole,” and making pies reminds him of his mother. His gift is discovered by a private investigator who realizes that with this ability, solving crimes that involve death is a lot easier. He ropes Ned into teaming up with him, and they make a little money waking the dead and asking them questions like “Who killed you?” and “Where did you hide your money?” before sending them back into their former state. Everything changes, though, when the corpse he wakes up is that of aforementioned childhood sweetheart. Unable to lose her, he has to keep her a secret from everyone who thinks she’s dead while teaming up with her to solve her murder.

A major problem with this arrangement is that the love of his life is someone he can never touch with his bare skin, or she’ll die and never come back.

The show is a bit morbid, but is also suffused with an airy sweetness. It’s been described as a “forensic fairy tale”, and the bright colors, storybook-style narration, chronologically out-of-time touches like vintage vehicles, and heavily stylized dialogue all add up to a unique viewing experience, much like creator Bryan Fuller’s other shows Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me. It was my favorite show last season, and was criminally limited to just nine episodes due to the writer’s strike. The good news is there isn’t a lot to catch up on in order to be up to speed for the current season!

17 thoughts on “TV is pushing up daisies

  1. Probably my favorite show on TV. Sadly it is dying in the ratings (along with a ton of other shows like Chuck), but this is one of the few shows I’d actually be sad to see go.

  2. I’m hurt that someone with a taste in TV shows similar to my own (I love Arrested Development, Veronica Mars, and Angel) would disparage Heroes so easily. I like to think that they’re recovering from the second season’s meandering, and each episode of season three is better than the previous. Monday’s episode in particular has fully reinvigorated my interest in the series. Well, I know I’m not going to change your mind on the series, but it’s still a fun series in the long run.

  3. Given that you loved Arrested Development, you should really give 30 Rock a try. It’s by far the funniest comedy I’ve seen since AD.

  4. Hrm, I’ve been meaning to check this out. Sounds like my kind of morbid. Six Feet Under is by far my favorite show, so maybe this might interest me.

  5. Watch It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It’s not for everyone, but people that love it LOVE it. (And starting with Season 2, there’s Danny Devito!)

    As for Pushing Up Daisies, I thought the premise sounded pretty cool, but it just never clicked with me. Sorry, buddy.

  6. I found Pushing Daisies to be a one-trick pony after a while. The main character has an interesting shtick, to be sure, but used over and over for every episode? It got a little old. A standard, uninspired detective show, except with the detective “waking up” the dead briefly for clues.

    This is, of course, an analysis of only the first three episodes. So perhaps I’m wrong. Either way, though, I’m sure it’s better than most that airs these days.

  7. I think I liked the first season of Pushing Daisies more than the second–so far–but it’s still one of the better things on.

    I don’t have cable, but I watch a ton of TV shows. You, Levi, probably see that I’m logged into PSN all the time, but am not playing a game. That’s because I’m using my PS3 to play video I’ve downloaded from the Internet (720p x264 MKVs converted to M2TS).

    Currently airing shows I really enjoy: Dexter, Mad Men, Californication, House, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Life, The Mentalist, The Shield, Raising the Bar, and The Office

    Shows for which I’m waiting (either to return or start): Breaking Bad, Dollhouse, Hustle, Jekyll, Leverage, Psych, Torchwood, Top Gear, and Weeds

    And a show which probably won’t be returning for a second season, but really needs to be watched by everyone here: The Middleman

  8. I’ve been watching Battle Star Galactica recently – an epic gift of seasons 1 – 3 for my birthday has assured me that I’ve got plenty to watch for the foreseeable future. I started off really liking the mini-series, and my attachment to the show and its characters has only grown as the show has progressed. I just started season 2 and I’m already heavily invested. I imagine the wait for new episodes is torturous for those who have been watching from the beginning.
    The only show I catch regularly on TV is LOST. There are certainly other gems out there in cable-land. Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job is a favorite of mine. The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack is a cut above most cartoons as well. I love Doctor Who, but I usually catch it in reruns or on the internet.

  9. There is not nearly enough discussing the awesomeness of Pushing Daisies in these comments!!

  10. Pushing Daises is pretty great — and it just looks beautiful. Maybe the best set decoration and art design on TV right now, were it not for Mad Men.

    Speaking of Mad Men, it’s completely wonderful, although what happened last week…

  11. I love Pushing Daisies. In fact, Levi, I blame you for the glowing review that caused me to buy the DVD of Season 1 over Season 1 of Chuck.

    Anyway, reasons I love PD. One, the art style. Seriously, watch this in HD or like I did, with the XBox360’s Component Cables. The colors are so vivid and the set designs are amazingly detailed. Two, ACTING! From Chi McBride’s grizzled detective who is tired of hearing about Ned and Chuck’s relationship, to Anna Friel’s boundless optimism, everyone is perfectly cast. Especially Kristen Chenowith, who just steals the show whenever she’s on, just watch the episode where she reveals she used to be a Jockey (in full disclosure, I

  12. Yay it ate part of my comment.

    (in full disclosure, I heart Kristen Chenowith). Three, the story. Every story is so crazy and fun to watch that you can’t help but smile. See last week’s episode where a Human Cannonball is used to try to kill someone at a circus, or my favorite part, when they discover a clown’s car driven into a swamp, and when they start pulling bodies out, after the fourth body I was rolling on the couch.

    Yikes, I posted way more than I thought I would.

  13. I checked out some 30 Rock on Hulu — wow! I think I had it confused with Studio 60 or whatever. I am definitely going to add that to my DVR subscriptions. I am still watching Heroes but it’s more out of habit than real interest. Most of the characters just aren’t very likable. It’s Always Sunny… is also on Hulu so I’m going to give that a shot soon. (I have to set up an account with them because it’s Mature Rated.)

    Thanks for all the suggestions! I don’t get cable channels at the moment but I’m thinking of upgrading my satellite package soon so I can watch Dexter, and then I can check out Mad Men, et al.

  14. Still watching Heroes mostly out of morbid curiosity. Other than that: House. I think the first couple seasons were best, but it’s still pretty good. Really, who doesn’t want 45 minutes a week of Hugh Laurie being snarky?

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