23. Pushing Daisies

Creator: Bryan Fuller
Years: 2007-2009

Talk about a frickin’ brilliant concept, explained gruesomely in the first few minutes of the pilot episode. When Ned is a kid, he realizes he can bring dead things back to life by touching them. He learns the price of this power when his mom drops dead from an aneurysm. He revives her, then the neighbor dad drops dead sixty seconds later. That night when his mom kisses him good night, she drops dead. So Ned learns that if he revives a life form, he will kill it (for good) if he ever touches it again. And a similar sized life form will die sixty seconds later (to create balance in the world) if he revives something…unless he touches that being (killing it again) before sixty seconds has elapsed.

Got it?

This plays out is hilarious ways. He revives a girl he’s in love with, and successfully gets her to fall in love with him. But he can’t touch her or she’ll die. He befriends a detective who uses Ned’s ability to revive corpses so he can talk to them for 59 seconds and get information to solve a murder. It’s a torturous gift, and Lee Pace is perfect for the role. He owns a pie shop too, and for fun he has an employee who is in love with him (and he could touch her, since she’s never died), but he doesn’t realize it. That girl is excellently portrayed by Kristin Chenoweth.

While the acting is great and the plots generally twisted and fun, it takes a while to get off the ground. There is considerably too much narration to explain things we already know are happening. And the episodes are a little slow. But season two picks up the pace and the show starts to become excellent. Unfortunately, this is when the ratings plummeted and the show was abruptly cancelled. The writers had to tie up a half-dozen story lines in just three episodes, making for a fun but rushed finale. It’s definitely one (or rather several) deus ex machina I’ll forgive.

2 thoughts on “23. Pushing Daisies”

  1. Ugh. I adored this show and it crushed me that it was done so soon. On the other hand, something like this was never going to survive the ratings demands of network television.

    The only thing I absolutely hated about this show was the lead villain in the final episode, which was a hell of a time to cast a horrible actor. I don’t know why he got the job or why he wasn’t fired during the shoot, but he was so desperately bad in the role that when I think of this show, he’s honestly one of the first faces that comes to mind.

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