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ABC's "Pushing Daisies": An Endangered Flower That Must Be Protected
November 19, 2008  | By David Bianculli
The latest episode of ABC's Pushing Daisiesairs tonight at 8 ET, and its fate may be determined by the number of viewers who tune in. So please, please watch -- but shame on ABC for not supporting and nurturing this excellent series more lovingly.

If I were holding a daisy and pulling its petals one by one, this is the chant I'd use regarding Pushing Daisies and ABC: "I love it. ABC loves it not..."

When Pushing Daisies was unveiled at the network upfronts last year, and again when the networks delivered their fall series pilots, I championed the show as the best new fall series of 2007. But because of the writers' strike, only nine episodes of Bryan Fuller's inventively different TV confection were shown last season. Their average audience was 9.4 million -- very solid, but not great -- and ABC decided to hold back on additional episodes until this fall, when it would, in effect, relaunch the series.

That approach, it's now obvious, was wrong. CBS, which put shows back into production last spring, fared better than the networks that held back on inventory. So far this season, Pushing Daisies has seen its audience drop to 6.6 million.


ABC, not the series itself, is to blame. This season's episodes of Daisies have been just as enjoyable and inventive as last year's, and ABC appears to have all but given up on promoting the show.

Tonight's episode features, as guest star, Fred Willard, playing a magician. But you might not know that, because ABC's on-air promos for Pushing Daisies have pulled their own vanishing act.

I checked this week's three series most likely to appeal to a Daisies viewer -- Desperate Housewives, Boston Legal and Eli Stone -- representing one show each from ABC's Sunday, Monday and Tuesday lineups. All three of those series promoted Private Practice and other ABC shows heavily, but not one presented a promo for Daisies, except for one tossaway mention by an announcer at the end of Eli Stone.

How can a show build an audience if its own network won't support it?

What's worse, Pushing Daisies is so much better than so much of what's on broadcast TV right now, it should be nurtured carefully and stubbornly by ABC. Yes, the network deserves lots of credit for developing and scheduling the show in the first place. But now is the time for ABC executives to step up and embrace Pushing Daisies, even if it takes viewers a little longer.

ABC, You've planted, and grown, a beautiful flower in Pushing Daisies. Now's not the time to nip it in the bud.




Elisa said:

Thank you for championing this show every night that it's on (even though you are probably preaching to a very small choir). After the miracle of "Friday Night Lights" renewal, it's a cold burst of reality that this gem is on its last legs despite breaking through at the Emmys this year with only 9 episodes. I wish ABC had sucked it up and had spring episodes or even a summer jump-start.

Comment posted on November 19, 2008 11:23 AM

Sean Dougherty said:

I watched the show for a while last year based on your recommendation, as well as its general positive media buzz, but it didn't connect. The voice-overs are too precious, the characters are a little too cute and the metaphors a little too forced. It is better than 90% of what is on the air right now, but I don't watch those shows either.

Comment posted on November 19, 2008 11:36 AM

Patrick said:

Pushing Daisies is, hands down, my favorite show on television. Rest assured I will be watching, but I am already one of the 6.6 million. If the show fails to attract viewers on broadcast, is there any chance of a cable pickup so they could at least finish the story lines?

Comment posted on November 19, 2008 12:57 PM

Joseph Iovelli said:

If this show gets cancelled, I am officially giving up on network television. "Pushing Daisies'" cancellation will do noting but reiterate that Network executives know nothing about quality programing. Hey, David...it's too bad that the nets don't read your blog.

Comment posted on November 19, 2008 1:11 PM

John Reyes said:

It's sad but ABC screwed up by letting so much time go by without a episode and it clearly is suffering because of it. This show is going to go the way of my all time favorite Twin Peaks.

Comment posted on November 19, 2008 6:46 PM

Noelle said:

I love Pushing Daisies and want nothing more than to see this show be successful. It is getting harder and harder to find quality TV on network television. I have to agree with Joseph. If this show gets canceled there is nothing worth watching on the networks anymore. The Closer, Damages and Mad Men are all on cable and all have the quality I'm looking for. Why can't ABC see the quality and talent they have in Pushing Daisies????

Comment posted on November 20, 2008 11:08 AM
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