Television

Pushing Daisies: The Happiest Show on Earth

The perfect cast of Pushing Daisies: Swoosie Kurtz, Ellen Greene, Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Kristin Chenoweth, and Chi McBride.
The perfect cast of Pushing Daisies (from L to R): Swoosie Kurtz, Ellen Greene, Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Kristin Chenoweth, and Chi McBride.

“Young Ned’s secret gift was governed by three simple rules: Touch a dead thing once, alive. Touch a dead thing again, dead forever. Keep a dead thing alive for more than a minute and something else has to die.” Season 1, Episode 2

As I type this, it’s been 4 years, 3 months, 5 days, 1 hour, and 54 minutes since ABC’s Pushing Daisies ended. Recently, for the first time since its 2009 cancellation, I decided to break out my DVDs and rewatch it. And it did exactly what it did to me from 2007 to 2009—gave me a feeling of overwhelming happiness for 21 episodes and left me feeling empty and sad after the 22nd. This isn’t because the show is bad or ends in a disappointing way. It’s simply that the show was not given a proper run, forcing the writers to piece together a last minute ending for air. But the sadness felt as the 42 minutes of episode 22 come to a close is worth the sheer joy this show brings with it—a joy that no other TV show has quite matched since.

The facts were these…Pushing Daisies, created by Bryan Fuller, follows Ned (the brilliant Lee Pace), a piemaker in the fictitious town of Coeur d’Coeurs with the secret ability to wake the dead with a simple touch. When Emerson Cod (Chi McBride), a sarcastic and money-hungry private investigator, discovers Ned’s special talent, he convinces Ned to enter into a crime-solving partnership. Ned will wake the dead for one minute, ask them a few questions about their murder, and put them back to “sleep.” In the show’s pilot episode, Ned is forced to wake up his childhood love, Charlotte “Chuck” Charles (Anna Friel), after she has been murdered on a cruise ship. He can’t bring himself to touch her again, and so begins television’s cutest and most unique romance ever. Chuck and The Pie Hole waitress Olive Snook (Emmy winner Kristin Chenoweth) join Emerson and Ned as investigators, and the rest is television magic.

Despite strong critical reception and 17 Emmy nominations in just two years, it could never seem to find a large audience and was sadly canceled by ABC. It didn’t help that the show premiered just before the WGA strike of 2007, and the show was very expensive. Still, I never understood why it didn’t catch on. In the age of too many crime shows to count on your fingers and toes, Pushing Daisies gave the world a creative alternative to all of the CSIs and NCISs.  The show seemed to have the perfect recipe for success: witty writing, creative directing, phenomenal acting, bright colors, mystery, a detailed and unique set, beautiful costumes, and an adorable dog. But for some reason, my family seemed to be the only 4 people in the world who watched it. In fact, when we went to the Warner Bros. Studios in between seasons 1 and 2, our tour guide was shocked that someone did watch it. (She actually tried to get us onto the set but couldn’t, much to my mother’s disappointment. We did get to see the morgue and The Pie Hole from a distance, though.)  We loved it dearly then, and as I’ve rewatched it over the last week, I’ve loved it even more. It’s truly a magical 22 hours of television, and it’s proving very difficult to find a show that will fill the pie-shaped hole it left in my heart.

If I had the power to bring any show back from the dead, I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to bring back Pushing Daisies, even if it meant that, like with Ned’s power for dead people, another show had to die in its place. (Maybe it would finally get Two and a Half Men canceled?) However, since I don’t have that kind of power, can we at least start the Kickstarter for the additional episodes or TV movie that’s been talked about since 2009? I would definitely donate some money. The series finale just isn’t enough. Until then, I’ll proudly wear my Pie Hole sweatshirt around campus, force my best friend to watch the series, and drown my sorrows in a pear pie with Gruyère cheese baked into the crust.

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