I caught the series premiere of Pushing Daisies last week, and I can't understand why it is the critics' darling. I give it points for being original and having a style: the colors seem preternaturally bright and vibrant, which gives it a fairy tale feel. The voice over (by Jim Dale, famous lately for being the narrator of the U.S. version of the Harry Potter audio books) adds to the feeling. But the show struck me as more dopey than funny and made me wonder if it will fulfill its promises.
The premise is great: a boy named Ned discovers he can bring dead creatures (including people) back to life with a touch. There are two catches, however. First, the deceased can live again for only one minute or else someone else must die in his place. Second, if Ned touches the person again, he will die, for good. He discovers these caveats when his mother dies in front him, in the midst of baking a pie. He touches her, and back to life she springs, but his best friend's father dies instead. (Living across the street, he was in the vicinity -- its a random proximity kind of thing.) Then, later, his mother kisses him goodnight, and she keels over.
Fast forward 15 or 20 years, and we find our hero has become the owner of a pie shop. He still has the dog he brought back to life (although he can only touch him with a back scratcher). A private detective discovers his gift, and they go into the business of reviving the victims of murders to ask them who killed them and collecting the reward. Their latest subject turns out to be none other than his long-lost best friend from across the street (Charlene Charles, know to Ned as "Chuck), who had to move away after her father died. Killed on a cruise arranged by a travel agent, the travel agent posts a reward to find Chuck's killer, so the pie maker and the detective try to find out what happened to her. Ned cannot bring himself to kill Chuck after reviving her, because she's beautiful and he realizes he's always loved her. Boom, the evil funeral home owner drops dead, and Chuck becomes a part of the team.
As unrequited love stories go, this one definitely has a twist: the lovers can't get together, not because they don't want to admit their feelings for each other, but because if he touches her, she will die.
The dialog on the show is kind of convoluted but has promise. The dead-pan delivery of the lines, particularly by Chuck, also have potential. I just was not grabbed by the show. I didn't really care what happened to any of the main characters, and rather than finding the no-touching love interest funny, I just found it painful.
I checked out the ABC web site for the show, and the upcoming shows sound interesting. They apparently get in the business not only of finding out who the killers are but also granting last wishes of the deceased. The contraption Ned installed in his car so he can "touch" Chuck made me chuckle. So, it's worth giving it another shot.