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the early word

ABC's ‘Pushing Daisies’: Bringing the Dead Back to Life

Kurtz, Greene, McBride, Friel, Pace, and ChenowethCourtesy of ABC

Vulture's taking a look at some of the most prominent of the picked-up fall TV shows. Which are good? Which are horrible? And most important, which will be worth a precious DVR season pass?

Title: Pushing Daisies

Stars: Lee Pace (The Good Shepherd), Chi McBride (Boston Public), Anna Friel (Me Without You), Kristin Chenoweth (Broadway's Wicked)

Network: ABC, Wednesdays at 8

The pitch: He sees dead people … and brings them back to life! A man has the power to (a) solve murders by querying the victims he resuscitates and (b) bake some delicious pies. It's Twin Peaks meets Waitress.

Pilot report: Ned (Pace), a baker who can briefly reanimate corpses simply by touching them, teams up with private investigator Emerson (McBride) to help murder victims identify their killers. After wrestling his childhood sweetheart Chuck (Friel) back from the Grim Reaper, Ned discovers that she'll stay alive for good … until he touches her again. (So much for the hot man-on-dead-woman make-out scenes.) All that sexual tension gets funneled into mutual mystery-solving, including the weirdest case: Chuck's own murder.

Representative dialogue:

Ned: "It's a very confusing time. Childhood issues, digging in the dirt …"


Emerson: "You know what? We all have childhood issues, okay? Believe me, I've got the full subscription. Horror stories!"

Ned: "I kinda killed her dad when I was ten."

Emerson: "Maybe not horror stories …"

Breakout star: Critics will focus on Friel, TV's answer to Zooey Deschanel–brand adorable quirkiness. But this show belongs to Swoosie Kurtz and Ellen Greene, playing Chuck's gothic boho aunts Vivian and Lili, who seem to have sprung fully formed from the brain of Amelie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

Worth a season pass?: Absolutely. Funny, imaginative, and smart, Pushing Daisies boasts Gilmore Girls–speed wit and a veteran cast of creators (including Men in Black director Barry Sonnenfeld and Dead Like Me writer Bryan Fuller). As feel-good fantasy-noir, it could be ABC's next Desperate Housewives.