ABC’s latest show on its fall prime time line-up, “Pushing Daisies,” is delightfully over-the-top with its fairytale storytelling of unusual murders and even more bizarre love stories.
With the assistance of an omniscient narrator everyone recognizes from childhood stories, each week’s stories include a gruesome but funny murder. The main character, Ned, is played by Lee Pace, best known for his breakthrough role in “Solder’s Girl.” As a child he discovered that he has the ability to touch dead things and bring them back to life.
He can bring back plants, people, animals- anything that can live or die. Unfortunately, when he touches them again, they go back to being dead and are then, unfortunetley, dead forever.
Much like fairytales, there is always an element of impending doom. He can only keep someone who is supposed to be dead alive for less than one minute, or else someone else nearby dies.
Over time, he learned how to lie and keep his secret, but most importantly, to never touch dead people because he knew his touch was deadly.
Because of unresolved mommy issues, Ned decided to become a pie maker and open up his own shop called, “The Pie Hole.” He had no intention of using his ability except to bring dead fruit back to its delicious peak.
A private investigator by the name of Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) discovered Ned’s ability as he was chasing a criminal and the criminal fell off of the roof and collided into a dumpster, inevitably killing him. As the criminal’s lifeless body bounced off the dumpster, he bumped into Ned who was innocently taking out the trash. The man sprung back to life and Ned was forced to chase him down and touch him again. All the while, bystander Emerson Cod saw everything.
Cod decided to use Ned to solve murder cases so they, and by ‘they’ Cod really meant ‘he,’ could collect the reward money.
One of the first cases they decided to work on happened to be the unsolved murder case of Chuck (Anna Friel), Ned’s childhood sweetheart. Chuck was a girl who lived across the street and Ned accidentally killed her father because of the one minute rule.
Chuck, now all grown up, was murdered by someone while on a cruise. Ned went to her funeral to touch her, bring her back to life, then solve the case to get the reward money, but was overcome with guilt about accidentally killing her father. He decided to keep her alive at the expense of a funeral director’s life. Well, no great loss there!
For the entirety of the show, Ned and Chuck are forced not to touch under any circumstances, despite clearly falling in love. They find ways of indirectly touching- like kissing while both are tied up in different body bags during one bizarre scene. Cute. but still a little weird (in a good way.)
The show is brilliantly entertaining because of its story telling and characters. This show is a fairytale with a dark comedic side. There are minimal recurring characters so the stories stay very simple. The narrator always tells the amount of time leading up to a moment something occurred, usually a death.
Also, all the characters have fairytale sorts of names: Olive Snook, Emerson Cod, etc.
The show has a happy, Dr. Seuss feel to it with its aesthetics. In the second episode, there was a car that ran on dandelions. The car itself was fantastical in its appearance.
That the man behind the creation of the car was a murderous maniac and the tiny little fact that the car blew up if one reached seventy miles per hour with the seat warmers on low and the headlights on provided a darkside to this storyline.
The women who were in the showroom with the dandelion car looked very much like “Who people” from “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” but all had eating disorders. The show’s balance of fairytale and real life is meticulous.
People looking for a great new show definitely should check this one out. It’s a murder mystery, comedy and fairytale all rolled up into one fantastic show.
To get caught up on past episodes, ABC’s Web site has full length episodes. New episodes are on every Wednesday at 8 p.m. on ABC.