With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in itĒ
Ė Rudyard Kipling
While many ponder the notion of raising the dead, Ned doesnít have much choice in the matter. With one touch, he can bring anyone or anything back to life. The catch? A second chance at life isnít eternal; in fact, it lasts precisely sixty seconds. Should the Ďunforgiving minuteí pass without a second touch from Ned, the resurrected one may live, but another - in close proximity - must die in its place. Such is the case during the tender stage of self-discovery in Nedís childhood, when he inadvertently causes the death of his best friend Chuckís father in order to bring his own mother back to life.
The ostracized Ned finds his niche as a piemaker. His unusual ability happens to be unusually good for business. Ned cuts overhead costs by transforming rotten, dead peaches, cherries and apples into fresh, succulent ones. Still, he takes on a second job as a sidekick to private investigator Emerson Cod. Nedís touch is just the thing Emerson needs for a booming practice in unsolved murders.
The only thing Ned didnít count on was falling in love with a corpse. Again. On one justice-seeking mission, Ned finds himself face-to-face with his childhood sweetheart, Chuck, who was mysteriously killed on a cruise ship. One minute isnít long enough to catch up after years of separation, and Chuck finds herself with a new lease on life, while the funeral director in the room next door meets his maker.
And so it goes with Ned and Chuck, adults in love but unable to touch. The tension doesnít stop there, either. Nedís loyal friend and waitress Olive secretly loves her boss, and the new woman in his life brings her much distress. Emerson finds himself in an investigative trio instead of a duo, and he doesnít appreciate Chuckís chatty - and unsolicited Ė lines of questioning. Poor Chuck has to disguise her entire existence; she canít even celebrate her newfound life with the cheese-loving aunts who raised her.
At the close of the premiere episode of Pushing Daisies, I actually cheered. And twirled. Creator Bryan Fuller (Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls), has given viewers another quirky dark comedy worthy of celebration, including twirl-parties in suburban living rooms.
The ensemble cast is perfection. Lee Pace gives a performance that is worthy of Fullerís signature protagonist character Ė a misunderstood hero whose purpose in life is to quietly change the destinies of others. As Chuck , Anna Friel is delightfully bookish with a good helping of worldly innocence. Broadway alumni Kristin Chenoweth brings the perfect amount of theatrical spunk to the screen as Olive, and no one could play Chuckís eccentric aunts as crisply as fellow thespians Ellen Greene and Swoosie Kurtz. It is Chi McBride as the dry and hilarious Emerson Cod who steals the show with every perfectly timed line he delivers.
This cast, coupled with narration by veteran stage and screen legend Jim Dale, would be enough, but the incredibly vibrant color scheme of the sets, costumes and special effects only enhance the magical quality of the show. Some have described Pushing Daisies as having a Tim Burton-esque quality. While many of Burtonís films share the same visual and musical qualities, and darkly hopeful theme of Pushing Daisies, thereís something more theatrical about the television show that I find appealing.
With stellar critical reviews and promising ratings, Iím hoping that the curtain wonít fall on Pushing Daisies before its time. Why Bryan Fullerís brilliantly scripted, intelligent shows Dead Like Me and Wonderfalls were snuffed out too soon is a mystery to me. Perhaps itís because he hadnít imagined Ned yet. Hereís hoping that Nedís touch will be Fullerís next chance at a hit series.
Pushing Daisies airs Wednesdays at 8pm (EST) on ABC.