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"Pushing Daisies" Needs ABC's Support Now More Than Ever
November 20, 2008  | By David Bianculli

Last night's episode of ABC's superbly sublime Pushing Daisies tied, in the preliminary ratings, with NBC's supremely stupid Knight Rider. Not good. For Daisies, it was a series low in terms of viewers, but close to a series high in terms of writing and acting.

ABC, ignore the ratings for now. It's time to grow a pair, or at least rent one, and renew your best new show of the past two years...

Here are five quick reasons.

One: I put it to ABC that no show in prime time this week was promoted LESS than Pushing Daisies, and I was keeping track. How can a show build an audience, at a crucial time in its history, if its own network ignores it?

Two: The drop in viewership is ABC's fault. After the strike, it held back on new episodes, figuring it would relaunch the show this fall. Poor strategy -- but Bryan Fuller, Barry Sonnenfeld and the rest of the people involved with Daisies did nothing wrong. So stand by them now, and make it up to them.


Three: There hasn't been as visually ambitious and unique a series on broadcast network TV since Twin Peaks.

Last night, the climactic image -- involving a dead magician encased in concrete, an unconscious geek killer and a suddenly rescued and regurgitated kitty -- was laugh-out-loud hilarious.

Abra cadaver!


Four: This company of actors is pitch-perfect, and a total treat. Anna Friel and Lee Pace, as the look-but-don't-touch lovers (see above), are magical. The aunts, played by Ellen Greene and Swoosie Kurtz, are as lovable as they are colorful. Chi McBride's cynical investigator is a hoot, that's what he is. (Sorry: now I'm channeling Boston Legal.) And Kristin Chenoweth, as Olive, is my favorite character in the entire series. She's almost like a three-dimensional cartoon character


And next week, when she goes undercover like some sort of modern Eva Gabor from Green Acres (diamonds, upswept hairdo, false eyelashes, pig on a leash), who can look at this woman and not smile, broadly?

Five -- and this is my final point -- there was a time when the networks would stand behind their best shows, and watch and wait as Hill Street Blues, Cheers, Seinfeld and other quality shows climbed from the ratings basement to much loftier heights. Pushing Daisies had big audiences once, pre-strike. Given network patience and support, it can get them again... and shows this excellent don't come around that often.

Give the show a renewal for the rest of the season, ABC, and get behind it. Daisies, like any flower, will benefit from a nurturing environment -- and it doesn't count that it's surrounded, on much of the rest of the lineup, by a bunch of manure.

Fans of Pushing Daisies recognize what a special show it is. Does ABC?

ABC, now's the time to demonstrate taste and patience... or admit, as a network, you don't have enough of either.




Alex said:

Kristin Chenoweth.

Kristin Chenoweth. Kristin Chenoweth. Kristin Chenoweth.

Without her, the show is silly and expends too much effort to go nowhere.

With her, the show is alive. And funny. With passion and direction.

Kristin Chenoweth. Kristin Chenoweth. Kristin Chenoweth.

Kristin Chenoweth. (But how do you REALLY feel? -- David B.)

Comment posted on November 20, 2008 1:00 PM

Jim said:

AMEN!! (from the first couple of episodes this year when Olive was great as the nun)

Comment posted on November 20, 2008 1:26 PM

Toby O'B said:

Yours always was a voice that mattered when you were published in the Daily News; do you know if network suits are reading now that you're on the internet? This was a plea that needs to heard there at ABC headquarters because your reasoning and suggestions make sense!

If they have read it, and still cancel 'Pushing Daisies'.... then Morley Safer was right: network executives should be nibbled to death by ducks!

Comment posted on November 20, 2008 2:34 PM

Rich said:

Amazing you are ranting about this because I stopped by your site today to do just that. Last year I signed up for Raines and it got squashed, this year Pushing Daisies. Why is quality the first to go while the bottom feeders flourish? The networks all need to offer quality and if the reality spaz' tune out, then so be it. I'm sure Life on Mars is probably on life support.

Comment posted on November 21, 2008 11:08 AM

Gregg B said:
Comment posted on November 21, 2008 11:49 AM

Ron Casalotti said:

To survive today, the first thing that businesses need to consider is how do they differentiate themselves from their competition. In TV, that does not mean cloning yet another reality show, or a standard sitcom, or even another crime based procedural.

'Pushing Daisies' is the kind of show that is worthwhile simply because it is both different (and this is important) and well done.

Likable leads, great established actors like Ellen Greene and Swoozie Kurtz (talk about different, there's the wackiest couple on TV since Gomez and Morticia) and the spunkiest actress (and character0 on TV, Kristen Chenoweth. Oh, and let's not forget narration by Jim Dale -- only the voice of the 'Harry Potter' books on tape. Talk about subliminal fan base building!

Most of the time, when a series gets a cancellation notice it is addition by subtraction as far as TV quality. If 'Pushing Daisies' gets uprooted that will not be the case. (VERY nicely put. -- David B.)

Comment posted on November 21, 2008 12:14 PM

david rosenblum said:

Pushing Daisies is unique. It is fantasy swimming in a pool of reality. Digby is what everybodies dog is when you are a child of 9 . Chenowith is marvelous while singing and dancing with the floor shampooer back to back in rythmic synchronicity. Even the pies look good. Clothes are colorful as are personalities. Laughter and smiles come easily as you watch these episodes. ABC mindset is understandable as According to Jim lasted for 6 years (not one uncanned laugh). Here is hoping cable picks this show up and gives it a chance. Kudos to you Bianculli. Wish you were back on the News. (Thanks. And here's the REALLY amazing news. Beginning very soon, "According to Jim" is back. With new episodes. Honest. -- David B.)

Comment posted on November 25, 2008 11:41 AM
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