Ned has a special power. He can bring people back to life just by touching them. However, if he touches them again, he returns them to their dead state. If he doesn’t touch them again, a person in a vaguely determined area around him will die in their place within a short amount of time. This is the premise of short-lived tv series “Pushing Daisies,” all of which is explained in the first five minutes of the show by narrator Jim Dale (who many will remember as the voice of the US versions of the Harry Potter audiobooks), so it’s not actually very spoilery.
Quirky and fun, ‘Pushing Daisies’ is also surprisingly dark in tone, but the show is so stylized that it pulls it off. For example, the body of the protagonist’s dog is shown flying weightlessly through the air after being hit by a truck, but moments later the protagonist brings said puppy back to life. (Plot Hole: How could Ned go so long without touching his dog again? Wouldn’t someone notice? Yes, I am That Person when you’re watching movies or TV shows.)
The pilot, or ‘Pie-lette’, clips along at a fast pace, stringing along different plot points that will no doubt be continued and built upon in future episodes. The premise of the whole show offers so much potential for future episodes, between the unusual and tragic romance between Chuck and Ned, the everyday goings on at the ‘Pie Hole,’ and the solving of crimes using Ned’s special power. What I really enjoyed about this first episode was how it reveled in the little everyday happenings of life, like the wrong hand touch of Chuck’s aunt by Ned. I find that many TV shows today often brush over the trivial little details about life, but as evidenced in the pilot episode of Pushing Daisies, showing those little moments enriches a series and its characters even more.
The show satirizes the entire “Will they, won’t they” plot point which runs rampant in entertainment today, which is a welcome change to the usual state of romance in television (I’m looking at you, Bones and House.) I also enjoy the fact that Ned is a pie-maker; baking is normally seen as a feminine task, and yet Ned is unapologetic in his and actually enjoys the process of creating the perfect pie. However, the show also focuses on the ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl‘ trope, epitomized by Chuck, which I dislike for all of the reasons stated in the video linked there.
If nothing else mentioned in this review intrigues you, check out this show for the colors. Pushing Daisies’ ‘Pie-lette’ is gorgeous: bright, vibrant, perfectly fitting the quirky murky fun of the series. Aesthetically, it’s rooted in the fifties, with hints of the seventies peeking through every once in a while.
Of course, creative endeavors that stray outside the norm tend not to last very long (see: Joss Whedon’s much lamented Firefly), and Pushing Daisies only lasted only two seasons beyond the pilot episode. I’ll definitely be adding the rest of the series onto my watching list.