TV Review: Pushing Daisies

by Robin Forman*

In a sea of television shows about sex, who had sex, who wants to have sex, and who’s not having sex, it’s nice to finally meet a character who can’t have sex.

Because if he did, it would kill his partner.

ABC’s Pushing Daisies premiered last week and hit the ground running…beautifully.

The show opens in the fictional town of Coeur d’Coeur in a rolling field of iridescent yellow daisies with a pristine blue sky: a scene that resembles some combination of the Blind Mellon music video for “No Rain” and The Teletubies.

But don’t be dismayed by the fantastical set and story narrator — who coincidentally narrates the book-on-tape version of the Harry Potter series too — this is no kids show.

It is in this field of flowers that young Ned — “9 years, 27 weeks, 6 days and 3 minutes old” — is frolicking with his dog, Digby — “3 years, 2 weeks, 6 days, 5 hours and 9 minutes old…and not a minute older” — when Digby is hit by a truck. It is when young Ned reaches out to pet his fallen friend that a jolt of light and color is passed into Digby’s body and up he goes and off he runs.

However, this ability to bring things back from beyond comes with consequence. When Ned (played in his older form by Lee Pace) brings someone back to life he can only let them stay alive for one minute or someone else must die in their stead. And that deathly replacement happens within close proximity to the newly revived. As if that weren’t enough, Ned learns after reviving his own mother that if touched again the revived one will die for good.

As an adult, Ned uses his gift to make his living making pies with otherworldly fresh ingredients. The only person who knows about Ned’s gift is a private investigator named Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) who has teamed up with Ned to solve murders and collect the rewards.

In the first episode, their informal detective practice is compromised when one of the murder victims they go to investigate turns out to be Ned’s childhood crush and first kiss, a girl named Charlotte “Chuck” Charles (played by Anna Friel).

The cast is charming and attractive but not in that what-the-hell-kind-of-hospital-staff-actually-looks-like-that-way. The visuals are stunning, and even that word doesn’t do them justice. Each image stands alone as its own masterpiece, and yet they are woven together marvelously with an eccentric story line, and quirky sense of humor. There’s a hint of romance, fantasy, fables, and drug use by the writers.

This season, if Pushing Daisies maintains the momentum it had in the pilot episode, the series should stand out like an outré prince in a crowd of frogs.

(Editor's Note: Pushing Daisies is a genuine hit out of the starting gate, with 13 million viewers watching the debut episode. ABC broadcasts Pushing Daisies on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central.)

*Robin Forman is a freelance producer who is often employed by ABC News.

(Promotional photo of the Pushing Daisies cast from ABC. To see a promotional trailer for the series, please check below.)

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