Aired on: ABC
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
When I first heard the premise for ABC’s new show Pushing Daisies, my initial reaction was one of skepticism. Don’t get me wrong, I always encourage original thinking and programming, but knowing how the networks usually scoff at originality, I didn’t want to waste my time with a wing-and-a-prayer show that was sure to get canceled once the executives in the big offices realized what they had green-lit. A lighthearted show about a man who can bring the dead back to life with one touch and return them to the grave with a second touch sounded like network fodder to me and I was surprised that it actually made it to the first string line up. To be honest if it had been a midseason replacement I might have overlooked it completely, but since it was a first string show, I assumed the network had some faith in the oddball comedy.
This quirky new show centers around a young man named Ned (Lee Pace, Wonderfalls), who discovers at a young age that he has the mysterious ability to bring the dead back to life with a touch. What’s the twist?—if he touches them again, they are dead for good. Also, if he keeps any of the deceased alive for longer than a minute, somewhere close by another living thing of equal value drops dead in its place. All of this is told in the beginning through a combination of flashbacks and narration, which immediately sets the jovial mood of the entire series.
Young Ned has one great love, his next door neighbor Charlotte ‘Chuck’ Charles (Anna Friel), whose father died when they were both ten, the cost for Ned resurrecting his dead mother. Years go by and Ned and Chuck have gone their separate ways. Ned becomes a pie-maker at a restaurant called the “Pie Hole,” and has an ongoing partnership with a P.I. named Emerson (Chi McBride, Boston Public, The Nine, Gone in 60 Seconds) who accidentally discovered Ned’s ability and convinced him to use it to their mutual benefit. When Emerson comes across a murder case he can not solve, he sneaks Ned into the morgue, has him touch the body back to life, ask the deceased who killed it and promptly touch them back to death before anyone else has to die in their place.
This relationship works out great until Emerson asks Ned to find the killer of his childhood sweetheart, Chuck. Needless to say—since Chuck is a main character in the show—he touches her back to life, but refuses to touch her again, keeping her alive. They solve the case of her murder but Chuck is left alive with a new life to look forward to and insists on working with her old friend, helping him solve cases. But can the two obviously love-struck friends maintain that friendship whilst being unable to even hold hands, knowing that even the slightest accidental touch could end Chuck’s new life for good?
Overall, I really liked this show. It brings a new twist on the old unrequited love dynamic so commonly seen theses days. The dialogue is fresh and humorous, as is the overall tone and pace of the show. The premise is novel and the actors perform this unusual dance very well. Even the colors of the show are bright and vibrant to offset the potential gravity of the subtext. I really can’t stress enough how interesting this show is, nor can I stress how much I think every viewer out there should support this show. It’s rare that a big network will bank on an offbeat show like this one and the past couple of years have seen the death of several such attempts. And considering that Lee Pace’s previous show Wonderfalls had also been cancelled prematurely, it seems a shame to let lightening strike twice in the same place. Please keep this show from becoming one of the deceased, because even Ned may not be able to resurrect it if it does.