is a very eccentric, dark comedy
centered upon the life of one Ned (played by Lee Pace
) who as young boy discovered he could bring dead creatures back to life with a touch. Unfortunately, a second touch returns them to death, permanently
, a lesson he learned when his recently resurrected mother kissed him goodnight. And there is a price for this life, for if he does not return the deceased to death within one minute, another must die in their stead. That lesson cost his childhood sweetheart
, Charlotte "Chuck" Charles, her father. Soon she moved away, to be raised her neurotic aunts. Ned grows up alone in a private school environment, and becomes a pie maker
, his material costs greatly abetted by his special talent. When his "talent" is noticed by a money-hungry private investigator
Emerson Cod (played by Chi McBride
), the rather introverted Ned is convinced to use his talent to help solve murder
s and then collect the reward money.
His life is fairly normal for a time. He operates The Pie Hole, a pie shop he runs assisted by the curvaceous Olive Snook (played by Kristin Chenoweth). Olive would love to warm Ned's oven, but the pie maker still dreams of his childhood love, whom he inadvertently orphaned. Then one day Emerson Cod takes him to a funeral parlor to interview the recently deceased Charlotte Charles (played by Anna Friel). He touches her, and they recognize each other, even though they last spoke as children. Soon Ned's 'free minute' has passed and another has died. And Ned realizes he can never touch Chuck again, even though both of them desire nothing more than to touch other.
Pushing Daisies was created by Brian Fuller also known for his work on Dead Like Me and writing credits on Star Trek: Voyager, Heroes and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Fuller also produces the show, along with Bruce Cohen, Dan Jinks and Barry Sonnenfeld who also directed several episodes.
The show has an episodic feel, because many episodes center around Emerson and Ned's efforts to solve different murders, with the un-deceased Chuck tagging along and often helping. But there are other complications, such as Chuck's recognition that she cannot reveal her second life to her grieving Aunts Lily and Vivian (played by Swoosie Kurtz and Ellen Greene). The undeniable and potentially fatal sexual tension between Pie Maker Ned and Chuck is part of the show's appeal. Ned and Chuck know they can never, ever touch, even accidentally. Yet they are very much in love and very much want to consummate their passion. And of course Olive senses this and is immediately threatened by Chuck, who presents a clear and present danger to her unrequited love for Ned.
But a large part of the show's success comes from real chemistry between Pace and Friel as Ned and Chuck. Another factor is the larger than life set design, full of brilliant colors and patterns. The Pie Hole looks like a pie from the outside. Many of the cars and buildings came from earlier periods, including Cod's '67 Lincoln Continental with suicide doors. It's almost like a comic, only a bit too real. The show is funny, and very different, with interesting characters, including Paul Reubens in a recurring role as olfactory expert Oscar Vibenius. The show only played for a half season in 2007 thanks to the writer's strike, but has been renewed for 2008-9 by ABC.
The show received immediate critical praise from almost everyone, in part because of the clever premise, chemistry, and clever execution. PD won Satellite and Family TV awards, a best direction award from the Director's Guild of America and was nominated for three Golden Globes. Given the fact that it's very funny, and there's nothing else really like Pushing Daisies the critical praise is easy to believe.