Pushing Daisies

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Pushing Daisies
PushingDaisieslogo2.jpg
Genre Comedy-drama
Romance
Fantasy
Crime
Mystery[1]
Created by Bryan Fuller
Starring
Narrated by Jim Dale
Composer(s) Jim Dooley
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 22 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Running time 42 minutes
Production company(s)
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Picture format
Original run October 3, 2007 (2007-10-03)  – June 13, 2009 (2009-06-13)

Pushing Daisies is an American fantasy comedy-drama television series created by Bryan Fuller that aired on ABC from October 3, 2007 to June 13, 2009. The series stars Lee Pace as Ned, a pie-maker with the ability to bring dead things back to life with his touch, an ability which comes with stipulations.[2] The cast also includes Anna Friel, Chi McBride, Kristin Chenoweth, Ellen Greene, and Swoosie Kurtz. The series is narrated by Jim Dale.

Touted as a "forensic fairy tale", the series is known for its unusual visual style, quirky characters, and fast-paced dialogue, often employing wordplay, metaphor, and double entendre.

The series received critical acclaim and received numerous awards. The series received 17 Primetime Emmy Award nominations, with seven wins; including Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series for Barry Sonnenfeld and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Kristin Chenoweth. TV Guide included the series in their 2013 list of 60 shows that were "Cancelled Too Soon".[3]

Plot[edit]

Pushing Daisies centers on the life of Ned (Lee Pace), a pie-maker gifted with the mysterious ability to reanimate the dead by touching them. Some conditions come with this talent. Ned quickly learns that if something is revived for more than exactly one minute, a similar "life value" in the vicinity drops dead, as a form of balance. Additionally, if he touches the revived person or thing a second time, it dies again, this time permanently.

In the pilot episode, Ned discovers his gift as a child by resurrecting his Golden Retriever, Digby, after the dog is hit by a truck. He later brings back his mother when she dies of an aneurysm. However, in doing this, he accidentally causes the death of the father of his childhood sweetheart, Charlotte "Chuck" Charles (Anna Friel), as the "price" of keeping his mother alive. Even worse, Ned's mother falls dead permanently when she kisses him goodnight (which is how he learns the effect of the second touch).

In their childhood, Ned and Chuck are separated after Chuck's agoraphobic aunts, Vivian and Lily (Ellen Greene and Swoosie Kurtz, respectively), move in to take on the role of her parents, while Ned is shipped off by his father to a boarding school.

Inheriting his mother's baking talents, Ned becomes a pie-maker, operating a restaurant called "The Pie Hole", which he runs with the help of waitress Olive Snook (Kristin Chenoweth). The restaurant is failing financially when private investigator Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) accidentally discovers Ned's gift and offers a proposal: Ned will temporarily bring murder victims back to life, allowing Emerson to inquire about the circumstances of their death, quickly solve the case, and split the reward money with him.

The scheme succeeds until they learn that Chuck, whom Ned has not seen since childhood, was murdered on a cruise ship. When her body is shipped home, Ned revives her, but cannot bring himself to allow her to stay dead by touching her a second time. The larcenous funeral home director falls dead in her place, Ned and Chuck fall in love again, and he brings her home to live with him under the unique circumstances of their never being able to touch each other, with the exception of an occasional kiss through the protective barrier of a sheet of plastic wrap. Chuck, grateful for her second chance at life, begins to appreciate life as a precious resource; and Ned, witnessing her happiness, begins to break out of his lonely shell. Chuck joins Ned and Emerson in investigating deaths for reward money, starting with tracking down her own killer. Emerson initially dislikes Chuck, whom he calls "Dead Girl," but allows her to take part in the investigation.

Other storylines include Emerson's search for his missing daughter, after she was taken away by her mother, a con woman. After meeting a publisher of pop-up books, Emerson is inspired to create his own pop-up book, Li'l Gumshoe, hoping that it will be published and that his daughter will read the book and find her way back to him. Olive Snook pines for Ned. Chuck's aunts slowly learn to accept the death of their only niece, and become friends with Olive, who brings them pie (laced with mood enhancers) baked by Chuck to uplift their spirits. As the series goes on, we find that Chuck is actually Lily's daughter from an infidelity with Chuck's father who was also Vivian's fiancé. We also learn that Ned's father, after abandoning him in boarding school, became the father of twins Maurice and Ralston, aspiring magicians. Ned revives Chuck's father to ask questions, and Chuck fakes her father's second death (having him wear a glove so Ned doesn't touch him again) so she can have her father back in her life.

An epilogue at the end of the series reveals that Emerson's daughter returns to him, Chuck is able to let her mother Lily and aunt Vivian know she is alive, and Olive has fallen in love with Ned's friend Randy Mann and opens her own restaurant dedicated to macaroni and cheese called "The Intrepid Cow".

Cast and characters[edit]

Main cast[edit]

Recurring cast[edit]

Guest stars[edit]

Production[edit]

Production history[edit]

The series was greenlit and given a 13-episode order by ABC on May 11, 2007.[4] On October 23, 2007, the show received a full season order.[5] However, scripts for nine episodes were completed before the start of the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike.[6] Bryan Fuller reportedly made last-minute changes to the ninth episode to allow it to serve as a season finale, adjusting the episode to be a cliffhanger.[7]

Because of the Writers Guild strike, the show completed just nine episodes of a 22-episode season.[8] Instead of attempting to complete the first season, the writers planned to begin work on the second season with production resuming around March to June 2008. Although ABC picked Pushing Daisies up for the 2008–09 television season, when ratings quickly declined ABC opted not to order additional episodes beyond the second season's initial thirteen.[9][10] By November 20, 2008, creator Bryan Fuller had confirmed that Pushing Daisies had been cancelled by ABC and expressed the possibility of wrapping up lingering plotlines in a comic book or movie sequel.[11]

On July 17, 2008, Pushing Daisies was nominated for 12 Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Lee Pace), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (Kristin Chenoweth), and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series (Bryan Fuller). It won three; for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series (Barry Sonnenfeld), Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Jim Dooley), and Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series.

The last scheduled episode was broadcast in the United States on December 17, 2008, leaving three episodes unaired, although those episodes were screened at the 2009 Paley Fest.[12] ABC was negotiating at one time to forfeit broadcast rights to the shows and make the unaired episodes available exclusively online,[13] but announced on April 3, 2009 the final three episodes would be broadcast on ABC Saturdays at 10:00 pm beginning May 30.[14] According to Chenoweth, these episodes do not provide a narrative conclusion to the series.[15]

The final three episodes aired on ABC on successive Saturdays at 10:00 pm from Saturday, May 30, 2009 to June 13, 2009, having aired elsewhere around the world. In India, the last episode aired on February 27, 2009 as a world premiere. In Germany, the television network ProSieben showed the last three episodes of Pushing Daisies on March 4, 2009 ("Window Dressed to Kill") and March 11, 2009 ("Water and Power", "Kerplunk"). The three remaining unaired episodes were broadcast in the UK as ITV announced it would be showing the complete season in its run on the channel.[16]

The original concept of Pushing Daisies was rooted from Dead Like Me. The show's creator, Bryan Fuller, intended for Pushing Daisies to be a spinoff of Dead Like Me.[17]

Visual design[edit]

Production designer Michael Wylie told TV Guide that, "My goal was a storybook come to life. I wanted everything to look almost like an illustration." He achieved this by "concentrating on conflicting patterns in different colors, particularly reds and oranges, but per director Barry Sonnenfeld, virtually no blues."[18] Cinematographer Michael Weaver told Variety that he and the producers decided the visuals should "feel somewhere between Amélie and a Tim Burton film — something big, bright and bigger than life."[19]

Screenshot from "Bzzzzzzzzz!" showcasing its visual style—the use of colors, symmetry, and shapes.

The distinctive storybook-esque style is continued within the overall design of the visual aspects. Circular background shapes, circular windows, and framing shots within circles was a theme seen consistently throughout the series. Symmetry is a common theme used in the visual style, and characters are often framed in windows, doors, or background props. A heavy use of patterns within a location was often used, where a similar pattern would be used in almost the entire location—the wallpaper, window blinds, bedsheets, pillows, furniture, and even clothing, such as Olive's apartment. The series would often use top-down perspectives and over-head shots would showcase its overall visual style. Regardless of the fact that the show focuses on murder investigations, the morgue is painted in candy-cane stripes and many outfits worn by the characters are vibrantly colored, bright, and cheery (for example, Olive's work uniform is a lime-green pinstriped dress, and Emerson is often seen wearing shades of purple).[20] Only Ned consistently wears black.

CGI is prominent in the series, with much use of blue screen technology[21] (the shop window, similar set pieces and outdoor scenery outside often cast a blue halo tinge) and 3D set-extensions (streets, grass and landscape, the pie shop façade). The use of matte painting backdrops are used to complete the look.[22]

Automobiles are often mint-condition vintage vehicles, though some newer vehicles were used (such as a mid-1990s Chevrolet Lumina APV minivan, a Hummer, or a 2006 Toyota Prius). Emerson drives a mid-1960s Lincoln Continental with suicide doors in new condition. Ned is seen driving an old, like-new Mercedes-Benz W108. Other characters drive decades-old vehicles as well. 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor cars in ambulance and hearse configurations figure frequently. Old-fashioned trolley cars can be seen in several shots panning in to the Pie Hole.

Quirkiness[edit]

Critics noted the Pushing Daisies distinctive visual style. A NYTimes critic describes it as a "candy-colored, computer-generated bucolic scenery"[23] and another describes a "Technicolor world that seems to exist at right angles to our own" and note "bizarre dialogue" and the use of alliterative and near-duplicate names of both characters (such as Deedee Duffield, Billy Balsam, the Darling Mermaid Darlings, Charles Charles, Charlotte "Chuck" Charles, John Joseph Jacobs, etc.) and locations (Boutique Travel Travel Boutique, Über Life Life Insurance, Coeur d'Coeurs, etc.).[24] Some narration is done in the poetic style of Dr. Seuss.

Music[edit]

The show contains original music composed and arranged by Jim Dooley. The first six minutes of the series pilot, "Pie-lette" were composed by Blake Neely. Dooley describes the musical score as having an Amélie type of sound (Yann Tiersen), which is a "wide-angled, adult fairy tale, with a narrator and this super-real world."[25] It was announced on Jim Dooley's website that the soundtrack of the first season was originally to be released by Varèse Sarabande on October 21, 2008, but was delayed until December 23, 2008, with the album available in the iTunes Store on December 10, 2008.[26] A soundtrack for the second season was released on April 5, 2011, also composed by Jim Dooley and released by Varèse Sarabande.[27]

Both Kristin Chenoweth and Ellen Greene have backgrounds in musical theater,[28][29] and have performed musical numbers in some episodes. In "Dummy", Chenoweth sang "Hopelessly Devoted to You" from the movie musical Grease. In "Pigeon", Chenoweth and Greene harmonized on the They Might Be Giants hit, "Birdhouse in Your Soul". Also in "Smell of Success", Greene sang "Morning Has Broken". Chenoweth asked to sing "Eternal Flame" in an episode, which Bryan Fuller agreed to accommodate.[30] The song was sung in "Comfort Food". She performed a cover of Lionel Richie's "Hello" in "Window Dressed to Kill".

Series continuation[edit]

Comics[edit]

The show's official website included a comic book that was distributed at the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con International, with new mysteries and background information not seen on the televised episodes.[31] The book also contained recaps of aired episodes.

When the show struggled in the ratings during its second season, Bryan Fuller said that, should ABC not pick up additional episodes, he would release comic books and maybe a movie based on the show to wrap up outstanding stories for fans.[32] Warner Bros. has given the okay to Fuller to produce comic books.[33]

Fuller stated that the "third season" comic book series would be twelve issues long, with a fresh take on the zombie genre starring all of the characters from the show. It was to have been published by DC Comics' WildStorm imprint.[34] On October 13, 2009, Entertainment Weekly reported that Bryan Fuller had turned in the script for the first comic issue, featuring recurring character Oscar Vibenius, and continued to work with the show's writers on the next three comic scripts.[35] In January 2010, a rumor leaked that the comic series could potentially become a graphic novel instead.[36]

On September 23, 2010, Entertainment Weekly reported the first issue of "season 3" was expected in early 2011. Further, Fuller stated that he and the show's composer Jim Dooley had talked about giving the audience a multimedia experience with a Pushing Daisies comic soundtrack, to be released officially or streamed for free online when the comic book was published. Fuller stated that Dooley had started composing musical cues, and that the cast had agreed to sing on the soundtrack, though licensing fees for the actors may have prevented such performances from being included.[37]

In late 2010, DC Comics shut down its WildStorm imprint. On April 23, 2011, Fuller confirmed on Twitter that release of the comic had been postponed by the loss of its publisher.[38] At the same time, Fuller released the first page of the uncolored version of the comic book.[39]

Mini-series/film[edit]

On April 1, 2011, at WonderCon in San Francisco, Bryan Fuller was quoted as saying "I am really emboldened by what Starz is doing with Torchwood and I would love to do a Pushing Daisies mini-series on Starz," Fuller says. "This would be a great way to wrap up the show properly. [We could] do six great episodes or even a Pushing Daisies movie. But I kind of like the idea of a Starz mini-series since they really embraced Torchwood."[40]

After his success on Kickstarter for raising money for a Veronica Mars movie in March 2013, Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas said that Bryan Fuller approached him to "talk to [me] about how this thing works" in relation to continuing Pushing Daisies.[41] Fuller later commented that a Kickstarter campaign would be harder for Pushing Daisies due to the budget differences. He said that $12–15 million would be required.[42]

Broadway musical[edit]

On July 16, 2012, when asked about a potential stage adaptation of the show by TVLine's Michael Ausiello, Fuller responded, "Perhaps!" and continued with, "I can’t really say until it's confirmed, but perhaps. We're working on something that is definitely a 'Pushing Daisies' revival, and the idea would be to have as many cast [members] as we can to participate in it."[43] In February 2014, Fuller revealed he had discussions with Warner Bros. studios and director Barry Sonnenfeld about reviving the series as either a film or a Broadway musical starring Kristin Chenoweth.[44]

Reception[edit]

U.S. ratings[edit]

For per-episode ratings, see List of Pushing Daisies episodes.

The heavily-promoted pilot episode ("Pie-lette") attracted 13 million viewers in the United States; it was the most-watched new series and 14th in overall viewership for the week.[45]

Season Episodes Timeslot (ET) Season premiere Season finale TV season Season
rank
Viewers
(in millions)
Network
1 9 Wednesday 8:00 pm October 3, 2007 December 12, 2007 2007–2008 #52[46] 9.46[46] ABC
2 13 Wednesday 8:00 pm (October 1, 2008 – December 17, 2008)
Saturday 10:00 pm (May 30, 2009 – June 13, 2009)
October 1, 2008 June 13, 2009 2008–2009 #95[47] 6.10[47]

Critical reception[edit]

Critics responded well to the series, comparing the style and direction to that of director Tim Burton.[48] The pilot, before it officially aired, was well received by critics who were able to screen it. TV Guide's Michael Ausiello claimed that "ABC has found its next Lost!" upon review[49] and the series has been touted as "the fall show with the most spring buzz" by many, including the trade publicationVariety.[50] New York Magazine also provided a rave review, calling it "funny, imaginative and smart" while claiming it "boasts Gilmore Girls-speed wit."[51] Television Without Pity declared it "one of the most original, most genuinely entertaining shows on TV. It's filled with tongue-tying turns of phrase, fabulous set design and a fantastic cast."[52] Time magazine's James Poniewozik named it one of the Top 10 New TV Series of 2007, ranking it at #5.[53] The show was heavily promoted by E! online columnist Kristin Dos Santos (who guest starred in one episode as the "'30s Woman") and was featured in her Top 10 shows of 2007.

Awards and nominations[edit]

The show was nominated for 57 awards, and won 18 of them, including 7 Primetime Emmy Awards.

In 2008, the series received 12 Primetime Emmy Award nominations, including 2 wins. Barry Sonnenfeld won for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series for "Pie-lette". James Dooley won for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series for "Pigeon". Other notable nominations included Lee Pace for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, Kristin Chenoweth for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, and Bryan Fuller for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for "Pie-lette". The series also received 3 Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy, Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy (Lee Pace), and Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy (Anna Friel). Barry Sonnenfeld also won the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Comedy Series for "Pie-lette".[54]

In 2009, the series received 5 Primetime Emmy Award nominations, including 4 wins. Kristin Chenoweth won for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series while the series won 3 Creative Arts Emmy Awards.[54]

DVD and Blu-ray releases[edit]

Season Region 1 Release Date Region 2 Release Date Region 4 Release Date Episodes Discs Bonus Features
1 September 16, 2008 June 23, 2008
September 15, 2008 (Blu-ray)
December 9, 2008 9 3
  • Pie Time: Time for Pie – An interactive featurette with creators of the show, the set designer and special effects team who all come together to make this show so unique. Special interviews from creator Bryan Fuller and Lee Pace as they discuss their favorite first season scenes. Region 4 DVDs do not contain this special feature.
2 July 21, 2009 May 25, 2009 April 28, 2010 13 4
  • The Master Pie Maker – Hop into creator Bryan Fuller's mind to discover the inner secrets of Pushing Daisies!
  • From Oven to Table – Follow the production challenges of taking one of Bryan Fuller's script ideas, involving a lighthouse and an egg, and crafting it into reality.
  • Secret Sweet Ingredients – Learn how composer Jim Dooley's music shapes a scene in ways most viewers aren't even aware of.
  • Add a Little Magic – Watch the visual effects team bring a 2-ton rhino to life and learn about the challenges of executing a scene to rival Jumanji!

Syndication[edit]

Pushing Daisies premiered in syndication on Chiller on March 5, 2013.[55]

References[edit]

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  47. ^ a b "Season Rankings (Through 6/7)". ABC Medianet. June 9, 2009. Retrieved September 1, 2010. 
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External links[edit]