Pushing Daisies was the first cancellation I ever really took personally. It was so WELL-WRITTEN and clever and gorgeous. The characters had storybook names. Lee Pace baked pies. Jim Dale narrated. A golden retriever kissed Kristin Chenoweth on the face. The show had such a definite aesthetic that I still recognize its guest stars when they pop up in other shows, even if I don’t know their names, because they all look like they belong in the colorful little fantasy world of Ned the Piemaker and the girl called Chuck. There was so much more they could have done.
I think about Pushing Daisies every time cancellation season rolls around and cuts down the brilliant gems (Communityyyyyy) right along with the ones that need to go (looking at you, Dads). This year, in particular, it feels like the show is everywhere. Lee Pace, who’s making the press rounds for Halt and Catch Fire and Guardians of the Galaxy, said recently that he had the time of his life doing Pushing Daisies (and falling in love with Anna Friel). Bryan Fuller is still pushing for a stage musical, which I NEED. But in the meantime, let’s all watch the show together. As of last week, I’m recapping Pushing Daisies for the EW Community, and I’d like to talk about it with you. If you’ve seen it, revisit it. If you haven’t, now’s your chance! The whole series is available at Amazon, Vudu, Xbox Video, Sony Entertainment, and my DVD collection.
The recaps will go live at EW every Friday, and you can check back here every few weeks for a few extra thoughts on the episodes as we go. First up, “Pie-lette” and “Dummy.”
Season 1, Episode 1: “Pie-lette”
That first visual of Digby running through a field of yellow flowers is the DREAM.
I resent the implication that a squirrel is in any way the equivalent of a golden retriever. The whole town would have to drop dead for the universe to actually counter the loss of that dog.
“Chuck came ready made from the Play-Doh Fun Factory of life.”
The narrator gives the passage of time down to the minute because that’s how Ned sees the world. I love that it’s both a quirk of the show and a legitimate extension of its story.
“Un-dead? Nobody wants to be un-anything. Why begin a statement with a negative? It’s like saying ‘I don’t disagree.’ Just say you agree.”
“Cantaloupe was FRAMED.”
Gold star for the coroner. “Already had a dog expert.” “I’m the, uh, other one.” “Mmmmhmm.”
It’s adorable that Ned puts so much thought into where to touch Chuck (for what turns out to be THE LAST TIME. Don’t even look at me). It’s adorable that she thanks him for calling her Chuck, and that they were each other’s first kisses. Everything is adorable, basically.
For someone who was only just starting to really live, Chuck is awfully calm about the fact that she’s about to die again. She’s more focused on the cool symmetry of having Ned as her first and last kiss, which says that she’s both really accepting and really into Ned.
Pushing Daisies: where you ship people by yelling at them not to kiss.
This LINE. It aches. I think a lot of us have felt some variation of it. And that cinematography makes me feel like I’m in a pop-up book or claymation movie.
“Hey, I think somebody’s truck’s on fire.”
“When were you gonna tell me?” “In the morning. Or when it came up. Whichever didn’t come first.”
“I’m not lying. Please don’t attack the window treatments.”
Can we stop putting my favorites on opposite sides of a wall? It’s very upsetting.
“She looks exactly like that dead girl!” I don’t think this show would work without Emerson.
I’d stake Pushing Daisies‘s entire cultural worth on the line “Bitch, I was in proximity.”
Fun fact: The funeral director is played by Greg Grunberg’s brother.
“Does everyone get to do this? ‘Cause girl we got to break it down!”
“You can have your pie, but you can’t eat it. That’s the way it works.” Ned can’t eat his own pie so you’re welcome to just put me out of my misery now.
“Chuck didn’t want to be remembered as the lonely tourist. She wanted to be remembered as something sweeter.”
Stop smiling like that, you gorgeous, life-ruining idiot.
Season 1, Episode 2: “Dummy”
If ever a character had a good reason to be emotionally closed off, it’s Ned.
His dad is the worst.
Ned probably smiles more in this episode than in the last 19 years, 34 weeks, one day and 59 minutes combined.
“Unusual, maybe. Eccentric in a quaint way, like dessert spoons.”
“This is such a small cheese box.”
I’m pretty sure I knew I loved Olive as a character and this show in general at this exact moment:
Chuck does not like being told what to do.
“You don’t know nothin’ about her except she had soft lips when she was ten.” “That should be enough.”
Emerson’s knitting hobby (HANDGUN COZIES) is delightful. Two thumbs up for the fact that this show’s view of masculinity encompasses knitting and baking and constructing elaborate contraptions just so you can safely hold a girl’s hand.
Ned is so chill about this case. He’s so focused on Chuck that he just can’t even pretend to care.
“PI secret code for ‘get me a damn slice of rhubarb.’”
DANDELION HIGH FIVE
“Olive often imagined there was an orchestra in her heart, music heard only by her, except when her heart broke open and it spilled out into the world.”
Manuel has some moves.
“While Olive considered how much she loved Digby for paying attention to her when the Piemaker would not, and Digby considered how much he liked salt, the Piemaker considered what the sentence would be for breaking and entering with no prior convictions.” I believe this is one of the best lines of the entire series.
“What is so great about knowing? When you lift up a rock, do you find whipped cream? No, you find worms. I say no to knowing.”
“You love secrets. You wanna marry secrets and have little half-secret, half-human babies.” Chuck tells it like it IS in this episode.
“It’s pretty much I bake pies and wake the dead. I live a very sheltered life.”
“Aunt Lily had a very extensive collection of historic erotica hidden in the milk cellar.”
Olive and Digby share a bed and take midnight walks. They probably have the healthiest relationship on this show.
Hit up my recap for my thoughts on Jeanine’s secret, because I have a lot of them.
Mark’s terrible first attempt at hooking up the car is like a bad infomercial.
“What the hell happened to flying cars?”
“Whatever the Piemaker had been doing that night did not seem especially romantic.” “Can you help us get out of these body bags?”
Each of the first two episodes has ended with Ned and Chuck doing everything they can to virtually hold hands, and I’m not mad at it.
Have you added Pushing Daisies to your summer lineup yet? Let’s talk about it!