Pushing Daisies

Pushing Daisies

Pushing Daisies is an American television dramedy created by Bryan Fuller. Fuller also serves as the show's executive producer alongside Bruce Cohen, Dan Jinks, Brooke Kennedy (episodes 2-7), Peter Ocko (episodes 8-present) and Barry Sonnenfeld.

Described as a "forensic fairy tale", Pushing Daisies is about a pie-maker who has the power to bring the dead back to life. The show premiered in the United States on October 3, 2007, on ABC.

Due to the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, the show completed only nine of a full 22-episode season. On February 11, 2008 ABC picked up Pushing Daisies for the 2008-09 television season, and the second season premiered on October 1, 2008.

On July 17, 2008, Pushing Daisies was nominated for twelve Emmy awards, including Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Lee Pace), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (Kristin Chenoweth), and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series (Bryan Fuller), and was awarded three:  it won for Outstanding Direction of a Comedy Series (Barry Sonnenfeld), as well as for Outstanding Original Score, and Outstanding Editing of a Comedy Series.


Pushing Daisies centers on the life of Ned, a pie-maker gifted with the mysterious ability to bring dead things back to life by touching them. There are a couple of conditions to this somewhat unwanted talent, however. Ned quickly learns that if something is revived for more than exactly one minute, something of similar "life value" in the vicinity drops dead, as a form of balance. Additionally, if he touches the revived thing a second time, it falls dead again, this time permanently.

In the pilot episode, Ned discovers his gift as a child by resurrecting his Golden Retriever, Digby, after the dog is hit by a truck. He later brings back his mother when she dies of an aneurysm. However, he accidentally causes the death of the father of his childhood sweetheart, Charlotte "Chuck" Charles, as the "price" of keeping his mother alive. Even worse, Ned's mother then falls dead permanently when she gives him his good-night kiss (which is how he learns the effect of the second touch). Ned and Chuck are separated; her agoraphobic aunts Vivian and Lily move in to take the role of her parents, while he is shipped off to a lonely boarding school by his father.

Inheriting his mother's baking talents, Ned becomes a pie-maker who owns a restaurant called "The Pie Hole," which he runs with the help of waitress Olive Snook. The restaurant is failing financially when private investigator Emerson Cod accidentally discovers Ned's gift and offers him a proposal: Ned will bring murder victims back to life, inquire about the circumstances of their untimely death, then touch them once more, all before his set limit of sixty seconds is up. Emerson will then solve the case and they will split the reward money.

The scheme succeeds until they learn that Chuck, whom Ned hasn't seen since childhood, has been murdered on a cruise. When her body is shipped back home, Ned revives her, but can't bring himself to touch her a second time. Against his better judgment, Ned allows her to live and the larcenous funeral home director falls dead in her place. Ned and Chuck fall in love again and he brings her home to live with him under the unique circumstances of their never being able to touch each other. Chuck is extraordinarily grateful upon receiving a second chance at life, and as such she starts to appreciate life as a truly precious resource and Ned, witnessing his vivacious beauty's happiness, begins to break out of his lonely shell.


Cast Character
Lee Pace Ned - owner and head pie maker at the Pie Hole
Anna Friel Charlotte "Chuck" Charles - Ned's childhood sweetheart
Chi McBride Emerson Cod - Private eye, Ned's business partner
Jim Dale Narrator
Field Cate Young Ned (was made a regular in the second season premiere)
Ellen Greene Vivian Charles - Chuck's aunt
Swoosie Kurtz Lily Charles - Chuck's aunt (a new relationship with Chuck is revealed at the end of the episode, "Corpsicle")
Kristin Chenoweth Olive Snook - a waitress at the Pie Hole and "hopelessly devoted" to Ned.

Guest stars

  • It was originally announced that Paul Reubens would be guesting as Alfredo Aldarisio, a traveling homeopathic antidepressant representative/salesman. The role was recast with three-time Tony nominee Raul Esparza. Reubens instead has been cast in the recurring role of Oscar Vibenius, a former olfactory expert who works for the Department of Water and Power. Oscar smells something peculiar about Chuck — and Digby, as well — and decides to get to the bottom of it.
  • E! Online columnist Kristin Dos Santos did a one-line cameo in episode 1.03, "The Fun in Funeral".
  • The Soup host Joel McHale appeared in episode 1.06 as Harold Hundin, a polygamist dog breeder who was killed by one of his wives.
  • Molly Shannon appeared as Dilly Balsam, the owner of a saltwater-taffy emporium that sets up a shop across the street from the Pie Hole. It was originally planned for Shannon to be in more than one episode.. However, due to the strike, this was not to be.
  • Mike White appeared as Dilly Balsam's brother and co-owner of a saltwater-taffy emporium, Billy Balsam.
  • Christopher Sieber appeared as Napoleon LeNez in episode 1.07
  • Peter Cambor played "Dusty Fitz" in episode 2.01 "Bzzzzzzz!"
  • In "Circus, Circus", actress Rachael Harris played Georgeann Heaps and she also starred in Notes from the Underbelly.
  • Wonderfalls alumna Diana Scarwid plays Mother Superior, the Mother of the nunnery that Olive joins, in the first three episodes of the second season.
  • David Arquette will be appearing in a recurring role as "Randy Mann", a man who befriends Ned and is described by Bryan Fuller as the sort of man Ned would be had he not had the magical powers.
  • Stephen Root will appear in a four-episode arc as Dwight Dixon, a mysterious man who is connected to both Ned's and Chuck's fathers.
  • Fred Willard will appear in the episode "Oh Oh Oh...It's Magic" as magician The Great Herrmann. Reno 911's Kerri Kenney will play his assistant, Alexandria.


Production history

The series was greenlit and given a 13-episode order by ABC on May 11, 2007. On October 23, 2007, the show received a full season order. However, scripts for only nine episodes were completed before the start of the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, Bryan Fuller reportedly made last-minute changes to the ninth episode to allow it to serve as a season finale, adjusting the episode to be a cliffhanger.

Due to the strike, Pushing Daisies did not finish its order of a 13-episode season. Instead, the writers planned to start work on the second season with production restarting around March to June 2008.

Visual design

Production Designer Michael Wylie told TV Guide that, "My goal was a storybook come to life. I wanted everything to look almost like an illustration." He achieved this by "concentrating on conflicting patterns in different colors, particularly reds and oranges, but per director Barry Sonnenfeld, virtually no blues. Cinematographer Michael Weaver told Variety that he and the producers decided the visuals should "feel somewhere between Amélie and a Tim Burton film — something big, bright and bigger than life.

Automobiles featured in the series are often mint-condition vintage vehicles, though some newer vehicles have been used (such as a mid-1990s Chevrolet Lumina APV minivan or a Hummer in a recent episode). Emerson drives a mid-1960s Lincoln Continental with suicide doors in like-new condition. Ned is also seen driving a very old, but like-new car, a Mercedes-Benz W108. Other characters drive decades-old vehicles as well. 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor cars in their Ambulance and hearse configurations figure frequently in the series.


The distinctive visual style of the show is complemented by noticeably quirky traits in the naming of characters and locations and also in plotlines themselves.

Many characters' names are alliterative, and some have duplicate (or near-duplicate) fore- and surnames: Deedee Duffield, Billy Balsam, Charles Charles, Charlotte "Chuck" Charles, John Joseph Jacobs, and so on. This doubling up of names is also apparent in place names (Coeur d'Coeurs being an obvious example, even though it really doesn't follow the theme of doubled up names because it translates to "heart of hearts" which is a common phrase), and a theme of "pairs" is apparent in episodes' plots (a pair of monkey statuettes in the pilot episode, for instance).

The distinctive storybook-esque style is continued within the overall design of the visual aspects. Regardless of the fact that the show focuses on murder investigations, the morgue is still painted in candy-cane stripes and many of the outfits worn by the characters are vibrantly colored, bright, and cheery (for example, Olive's work uniform is a lime-green pintucked dress, and Emerson is frequently seen wearing shades of purple.)

CGI is very prominent in the series, with much use of blue screen technology (the shop window, similar set pieces and outdoor scenery outside often cast a blue halo tinge) and 3d set-extensions (streets, grass and landscape, the pie shop facade). It has been criticized that due to the lack of blue hues in the background replacements, a green screen would have fared slightly better for chromakey effects. It has mostly been given a "not-quite photo-realistic" look to emphasize the storybook surreality.


The show contains original music composed and arranged by Jim Dooley. The first six minutes of the series pilot, "Pie-lette" were composed by Blake Neely. Dooley describes the musical score as having an Amélie type of sound (Yann Tiersen), which is a "wide-angled," adult fairy tale, with a narrator and this super-real world." It was recently announced on Dooley's web site that the soundtrack of the first season was originally going to be released by Varese Sarabande on October 21, 2008, but was pushed back to November 4, 2008.

Both Kristin Chenoweth and Ellen Greene have backgrounds in musical theater, and have performed musical numbers in some episodes. In Dummy, Chenoweth sang "Hopelessly Devoted to You" from the movie musical Grease. In Pigeon, Chenoweth and Greene harmonized on the They Might Be Giants hit, "Birdhouse in Your Soul". Also in Smell of Success, Greene sang "Morning Has Broken". Chenoweth has requested to sing "Eternal Flame" in a future episode, which Bryan Fuller has agreed to accommodate. She will be singing it in episode eight.

Online comic

The show's official website includes a comic book that was given at the 2007 Comic-Con International in San Diego, which features new mysteries and background information not shown on the televised episodes. The book also contains recaps of aired episodes.


  • Some scenes of the episode "Bitches" were filmed at the same set as the Gilmore Girls and Ghost Whisperer. You can clearly see the town square.
  • Several promotional packaging items were covertly - and illegally - placed for advertising purposes around the sets, for cartoon label "Dead Davey", and in at least one shot, " officialdeadman" logos have been spotted, to promote the similar subject brand. They appear prominently in some of the cut scenes. The favour was returned when for a whole day, the brand website redirected to the shows website, and has continued to show web advertising for the production.
  • In "Bzzzzzzz!" Ned says he's a temp from Happy Time Temporary Services. This is the temp agency that George works at in Bryan Fuller's Dead Like Me.


U.S. Ratings

See List of Pushing Daisies episodes for per-episode ratings

According to The Los Angeles Times, the heavily-promoted pilot episode ("Pie-lette") attracted over 13 million viewers in the United States; it was the most-watched new series and 14th in overall viewership for the week.

Time magazine's James Poniewozik named it one of the Top 10 New TV Series of 2007, ranking it at #5.

Season Premiere Final Timeslot U.S. ratings Network
1 2007 October 3, 2007 December 12, 2007 Wednesday 8:00 PM EST 9.42 million ABC
2 2008-2009 October 1,2008 TBA Wednesday 8:00 PM EST 6.32 million ABC

Critical reception

Critics have responded well to the series, comparing the style and direction to that of director Tim Burton. The pilot, before it officially aired, was well-received by critics who were able to screen it. TV Guide's Michael Ausiello claimed that "ABC has found its next Lost!" upon review and the series has also been touted as "the fall show with the most spring buzz by many, including the trade publication Variety. New York Magazine also provided it with a rave review, calling it "funny, imaginative and smart" while also claiming it "boasts Gilmore Girls-speed wit. The show was also heavily promoted by E! online columnist Kristin Dos Santos (who guest starred in one episode as the "30's Woman") and was featured in her Top 10 shows of 2007.

Awards and nominations

Result Award Show 2007 Best New Series Family TV Awards
Best Television Series, Comedy, or Musical Satellite Awards
Actress in a Television Series, Comedy, or Musical Anna Friel
Actor in a Television Series, Comedy, or Musical Lee Pace
2008 Best Performance in a TV Series - Young Actor Ten or Under Young Artist Awards Field Cate
Best New Comedy People Choice Awards
TV Series, Musical or Comedy Golden Globe Awards
Best Actor, TV Series, Musical or Comedy Lee Pace
Best Actress, TV Series, Musical or Comedy Anna Friel
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Television - Comedy Series (for "Pie-lette") DGA Awards Barry Sonnenfeld (Director), Gabriela Vasquez (Unit Production Manager), Chris Soldo (First Assistant Director), Greg Hale (Second Assistant Director), Renee Hill-Sweet (Second Second Assistant Director)
Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Movies of the Week/Mini-Series'/Pilot for "Pie-lette" ASC Award Michael Weaver
Best New Series WGA Awards Chad Gomez Creasey, Dara Resnik Creasey, Bryan Fuller, Abby Gewanter, Jim Danger Gray, Lisa Joy, Kath Lingenfelter, Rina Mimoun, Jack Monaco, Scott Nimerfro, Peter Ocko
Best Episode for "Pie-lette" Bryan Fuller
Outstanding Art Direction for a Single Camera Series for "Pie-lette" 60th Primetime Emmy Awards Micheal Wylie (production designer), Halina Siwolop (set decorator)
Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series Camille Patton, C.S.A., Meg Lieberman, C.S.A., Jennifer Lare, C.S.A.
Outstanding Costumes for a Series for "Pie-lette" Mary Vogt (costume designer), Stephanie Fox-Kramer (costume supervisor)
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series for "Pie-lette" Barry Sonnenfeld
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Single-Camera Series for "Smell of Success" Daniel Curet (department head hairstylist), Yuko Tokunaga-Koach (key hairstylist)
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Lee Pace
Outstanding Makeup for a Single Camera Series (non-prosthetic) for "Smell of Success" Todd A. McIntosh (department head makeup artist), David De Leon (key makeup artist), Bradley M. Look (additional makeup artist)
Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (original dramatic score) for "Pigeon" Jim Dooley
Outstanding Picture Editing for a Comedy Series (single or multi-camera) for "Pie-lette" Stuart Bass, A.C.E.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Kristin Chenoweth
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for "Pie-lette" Bryan Fuller
TBA Outstanding Grading for "The Fun in Funeral" Hollywood Post Alliance Awards Joe Hathaway for LaserPacific Media Corporation
TBA Outstanding Editing for "Pie-lette" Stuart Bass, A.C.E.
TBA Breakout Performance Scream Awards Anna Friel

DVD and Blu-ray Release

Season 1 was released simultaneously on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in Region 2 on June 23, 2008 and Region 1 on September 16, 2008 The sole bonus feature announced is "Pie Time - Time for Pie: Delicious Interactive Featurette with Flavorful, Fresh-Baked Pie Slices As Your Entrée and Cast/Creative Team Members Dishing Forkfuls of Series Secrets".

See also

Severus of Naples, a 4th century bishop of Naples who supposedly brought a man back to life for a moment in order to solve a fraud case.


External links

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