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 ABC.com, 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!