Recently aired on ITV1, the first season of Pushing Daisies tells the story of Ned, a unique young man who can touch dead things and bring them back to life. It’s not a skill without provisos, however; bring someone back to life for more than a minute and something else has to die, whilst touching a re-animated person kills them again- this time for good. Still, it’s an ability that lets pie-maker Ned earn some money on the side by working with private investigator Emerson Cod to solve murder cases (much easier when you can ask the victim who did it!)- at least until the day his childhood sweetheart Charlotte ‘Chuck’ Charles is killed whilst on a cruise. After bringing her back to life, Ned would understandably rather rekindle their relationship than send her back to the grave, but how will explain the sudden appearance of a ‘dead girl’ who he can never touch again?
Once you’ve got your head around that mouthful, you’ll be pretty much equipped to understand the world of Pushing Daisies- and even if you aren’t, don’t worry, for once you begin watching, an overly helpful narrator will walk you through all these facts and more. Currently standing at nine episodes in length, the series tells the tale of Ned as he pursues his relationship with Chuck whilst also solving all manner of strange cases with Emerson Cod- and that’s before you factor in waitress Olive Snook and her case of unrequited love, Chuck’s two eccentric aunts and a whole host of eccentric minor characters. Given that season one, such as it is, ends on a cliff-hanger, one assumes there will be more, but how did the first lot of pie-filled ‘dramedy’ go down?
Unfortunately, despite sounding intriguing enough on paper, when it came to execution, Pushing Daisies couldn’t quite deliver the goods. The rather twee and sickly setting in which everything was presented in bright colours better suited to the 1950s was only outdone by the need for a narrator to spell everything out in large friendly letters. Meanwhile, the content itself, whilst clearly not meant to be taken seriously, did spill over a little too far into the ridiculous as it introduced everything from an explosive scratch ‘n’ sniff book to an ex-jockey who now has replacement legs transplanted from his horse (no, really). Obviously we aren’t meant to take it too seriously, but there’s just something about this mixture of the grotesque and the saccharine that leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
That being said, Pushing Daisies is something of an acquired taste- the more you watch, the less you complain about such things. Still, despite the bombshell dropped at the end of season one, the concept doesn’t seem to be one with a great deal of longevity- just how many over-the-top murder mysteries can we sit through before we cease to care even just a little bit? How long will we have to endure the angst of Chuck and Ned being sweethearts who can never touch?
Although it’s never in danger of becoming a favourite, Pushing Daisies has slowly grown on me to the point where I’m not averse to seeing where it goes in any further seasons that may be produced. It’s certainly not for everyone, but if you can stand a mix of the quirky, the saccharine and the downright bizarre, you may come to appreciate it.