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A Forensic Fairy Tale: Pushing Daisies

Mark Tregoweth
Mark Tregoweth

Once in a blue moon television unveils a fresh show that is distinctly different; Pushing Daisies is one such show.

Described as a forensic fairy tale, the show debuted in 2007 and quickly won acclaim.

The premise was simple, a fresh mix of crime/comedy and romance centring around a 30 something pie-maker, Ned (Lee Pace) who has the ability to give life to the dead with a single touch.

With the gift of life comes the curse of death. Ned has the power to give life but for every minute that something is brought back to life something else must die.

This lesson is learned early on when his mother dies suddenly of an aneurism and is brought back to life. In her place the father of his childhood sweetheart Charlotte ‘Chuck’ (Anna Friel) loses his life. Later that same day when his mother kisses him goodnight, a second touch from Ned kills her permanently.

With his mother gone and Chuck’s father dead, the young friends are separated when Chuck is sent to live with her agoraphobic aunts, (former synchonised swimming stars) Vivian and Lily and Ned is sent to boarding school.

Following in his mother footsteps, Ned seeks solace in baking. As an adult this leads to a career in pies and his own restaurant, “The Pie Hole’.

Supported in the venture by a lovelorn waitress, Olive Snook (Kristen Chenoweth), Ned struggles to make ends meet until private investigator Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) learns his secret and the two men forge a financial agreement.

Ned brings murder victims back to life long enough so he and Emerson can inquire about how they died, solve the crime and collect the reward and then with a second touch returns them to death before sixty seconds is up.

The partnership works well until his childhood sweetheart Chuck is murdered. After bringing her back to life Ned is unable to touch her a second time. With the realisation that he can never touch her again, he solves her murder and reignites a relationship that will never be intimate.

What follows is one of the quirkiest and original television shows in recent history.

Visually different from other shows, Pushing Daisies sets are almost surreal with vivid colours, a retro vibe and storybook quality.

Leading the cast Lee Pace oozes a childlike innocence as the pie maker, Ned, trapped with a gift that has the power to give life and death. British actress Anna Friel is the pie maker’s perfect partner, with a quick wit and knowing glances.

Completing the cast, Chi McBride delivers a no nonsense performance as private investigator Emerson Cod and Broadway star Kristen Chenoweth steals scenes as Olive Snook a meddling waitress desperately in love with Ned.

Created by writer producer Bryan Fuller, one of the masterminds behind TV’s Heroes, there are only nine episodes in the first season of this forensic fairy tale, but each episode is pure gold with murder and mystery guaranteed in titles such as ‘The Fun in Funeral’ and ‘Corpsicle’.

Nominated for twelve Emmy awards in its first year, the series lasted one more season before it was abruptly cancelled.

Refreshingly funny and distinctly different Pushing Daisies is highly recommended.


365 Minutes

Warner Bros DVD

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