Reviewed by: Samuel K. Sloan (FarPoint Media Executive News Director)
Critics that were favored with a pre-launch viewing of the new ABC show “Pushing Daisies,” loved it, said it was the greatest thing since grandma’s home cooking. The hype surrounding the series raised the anticipation of SF fans to frenzied heights.
Now that the show has premiered this past Wednesday the big question is — Did it live up to all the anticipation, did it meet the high expectations of fans?
The answer is — Sadly, “Not so much!”
Don’t get me wrong, “Pushing Daisies” is a good show, an adequate newcomer that will probably hang in there and get a loyal following. I plan on sticking around to see where they take it, at least for a few more episodes. However, if it doesn’t pick up, then I will have to drop it in my DVR circular file from hell. The premise of the show is fresh and one that alone gives it a lot of promise if the showrunners and actors can go with it.
A man who loves and bakes pies for a living was granted, as a child, the gift to be able to touch dead people (and things) and bring them immediately back to life. A second touch from him make them dead again. The catch is this, if he doesn’t re-touch them within 60 seconds they stay alive and someone else within a certain radius of him drops over dead — so his gift is actually a double-edged sword.
In the pilot episode all the backstory is given in about 15 minutes, but didn’t feel that rushed because of the narrative delivery of the story-teller. Our protagonist named Ned (played by Lee Pace), as a young boy has a crush on his next door neighbor’s daughter. He accidently kills her dad after his mother drops dead of a stroke and he brings her back to life. Since he didn’t send her back to death within 60 seconds, the girl’s father, who is out mowing his lawn, keels over dead. Ned never tells the girl, called Chuck (Anna Friel) – short for Charlotte, that he was responsible for her father dying.
Jump 20+ years later and Ned is in his Pie Shop working with a private detective, played by the great character actor Chi McBride. Together they solve murders, insurance and other death cases by Ed touching the victim, asking the victim who killed them and then re-touching them, allowing McBride’s character to solve the case. Between the two, they are making a pretty decent living.
Chuck and Ned are thrown back together after she is murdered aboard a cruise ship. Ned brings her back to life to discover who killed her, only to spark the love he had for her in the past and he fails to re-touch her, giving life back to her. Of course someone else dies in her place and I won’t spoil it for you in case you’ve missed the pilot episode.
Lending their supporting talents are the wonderful Swoosie Kurtz and Ellen Greene, who play Chuck’s very eccentric shut-in Aunts. Anytime Swoosie can grace the camera is always a joy and she once again brings credibility to another character as the one-eyed, shotgun totin’ Aunt Lily.
Like I said, the premise is a good one, but I just didn’t feel the two lead actors delivered on what was potentially a good idea. Except for McBride, Kurtz and Greene the other two primaries weren’t able to keep pace with the ingenious script. Pace was overly slow-witted and Friel too bubbly to be believable.
I do hold out hope for this show as the only flaw was what I mentioned above. Time should solve Pace and Friel’s problems in front of the camera, but in today’s fast-paced move to cancel shows, time is the one thing Pace and Friel may not be granted. We’ll have to wait and see if next week’s episode shows a maturing in the abilities of its two leads.
Because of the pre-hype, ABC did garner a goodly share of the viewing audience on Wednesday with 13 million tuning in to see Ned bring back the dead. That was 2 million more than tuned-in to see Jamie Sommers kick some bionic butt in week two of the NBC drama “Bionic Woman” on the same night.
On the Uncle Sam scale of 0 to 5 stars — I give “Pushing Daises” *** because I think it will get better – At least it shows potential for life.
If you missed the premiere, “Pushing Daises” will be re-aired tonight.