Pushing Daisies: Feel-good Fantasy-noir

Ned sees dead people. Well, that’s only half the story of Pushing Daisies, ABC’s rookie fall drama that airs on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m., that has garnered more than its share of praise and viewers. The other half of the story is that Ned sees dead people, because he can bring them back to life.

The basic storyline is as follows: Ned (Lee Pace) is a pie maker who can revive the dead simply by touching them, but if he touches them a second time, they go back to being dead. If he doesn’t touch the dead within a minute of reviving them, then someone else will die. Ned’s unique gift makes him a perfect partner for private investigator Emerson Cod (Chi McBride). The two have developed a partnership, where they ask the dead for clues in solving murders, and Ned has had no problem with putting the dead back into place until he comes across the case of his childhood sweetheart (and first kiss) Charlotte “Chuck” Charles (Anna Friel). All of this is explained by an omniscient and ever-present narrator in the opening moments of the pilot, in which Chuck‚Äôs murder is solved.

The dialogue and setting is typical of series creator Bryan Fuller’s (creator of Dead Like Me and Wonderfalls) work. His characters inhabit a world that is saturated in bright hues and lights reminiscent of Big Fish or Lemony Snicket, while they speak in an iambic pentameter-like rhythm: “You haven’t been hugged properly,” Chuck says to Ned, who naturally avoids physical contact with her. “It’s an emotional Heimlich. Someone puts their arms around you, gives a squeeze. All your fear and anxiety comes shooting out of your mouth in a big, wet wad and you can breath again.”

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