the take

‘Pushing Daisies’ Will Probably Not Save Television As We Know It

Courtesy of ABC

Filling in for Dan Kois today is Fluxblog editor Matthew Perpetua.

In a fall season where even the two shows that qualify as breakout hits — NBC’s Bionic Woman and ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy spinoff Private Practice — seem curiously low on buzz, Bryan Fuller’s critically acclaimed dramedy Pushing Daisies seemed like it could be the saving grace of a rather fallow crop of new shows. So, now that it’s aired, is there any chance that it is going to take off?

Well, it’s a question of scale, maybe. Pushing Daisies may be the twee-est show in the history of network television, and as such, its audience seems limited from the start, at least in the sense that Michel Gondry and Wes Anderson films don’t exactly dominate the box office. Everything about the show seems self-consciously geared toward achieving cult popularity, which may not be enough to sustain the quality of its meticulous art direction and expensive production values.

In addition to a level of quirkiness that would no doubt drive the Atlantic Monthly’s Brian Hirschorn to the brink of madness, Pushing Daisies is built upon a premise — a lonely pie-maker with the ability to raise the dead resurrects his childhood sweetheart but must not ever touch her or she will die a more permanent death — that may not play out well in a serialized format.

That said, despite a sweetness that occasionally turns cloying, Pushing Daisies is a joy to watch. Anna Friel in particular is relentlessly cute and boasts a fabulous wardrobe unmatched by anyone on television this side of Christina Hendricks’s character on Mad Men. The script is quick and witty enough to fill the void vacated by the late, great Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars, but the tone of the show falls somewhere between a Tim Burton movie and an issue of McSweeney’s. In other words, you’d better get started on your Website right now. —Matthew Perpetua

Earlier: Can ‘Pushing Daisies’ Save Television As We Know It?

‘Pushing Daisies’ Will Probably Not Save Television As We Know It