Pushing Daisies: Now You See It, Now You Don’t

Late yesterday it was confirmed by E!Online that ABC has cancelled Pushing Daisies. This doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone, given the dismal ratings the series has been receiving this season, especially compared to its pre-writers’ strike numbers. Entertainment sites and blogs have speculated for weeks that the show was as good as dead, but ABC refused to make a decision until a week after the thirteenth and final episode was in the can. They seem to have been waiting for this week’s numbers, but unfortunately after a two-week break, the latest episode “Oh Oh Oh, It’s Magic” earned its lowest ratings yet—a mere 4.6 million viewers.

Frankly, I didn’t think the show would last even this long, because of its quirkiness, my assumptions about the tastes of television-watching Americans, and my fear that the premise couldn’t be stretched out for too long. The creator, Bryan Fuller, told Kristin Dos Santos of E! Online “I’m really not feeling very boo hoo about it. I am so proud of the show.” But I wonder if there’s some measure of relief there, because it was becoming difficult to write the show and keep it fresh while staying faithful to those special early episodes when we had never seen anything like the show before. In the last couple of episodes, some of the seams were beginning to show, even as the plot went in interesting new directions. Perhaps the series would have been better as a planned miniseries, rather than assuming the “brilliant but cancelled” status of Fuller’s previous efforts Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me.

Still, if any show can be brought back from the dead, it’s Pushing Daisies. Dead Like Me has recently been resurrected as a direct-to-video movie, Life After Death, which would be more exciting if Fuller hadn’t left the series during its first season. Fuller has promised that a comic book may be in the works with DC to wrap up the cliffhanger ending of Pushing Daisies, and has even mentioned the possibility of a theatrical film.Whedon showed it could be done with a Firefly movie and comics continuing Buffy and Angel beyond their final seasons, so anything is possible. How many times has Babylon 5 returned to the well, not to mention Star Trek?

Some fans are even clamoring for the show to move to another network, but I say, let it rest in peace. I wonder sometimes if it’s better to have a limited number of fantastic episodes of a show, while it’s still in its prime and full of potential, rather than have several seasons where the shark jumps through hoops over and over again until the show no longer resembles the one you loved. It seems that Bryan Fuller may just return to something safe and resume writing Heroes, a show that should have been canceled by now. They certainly need help from someone who knows how to write characters and plot.

As for “Oh Oh Oh, It’s Magic”, it seems that like the over 8 million viewers who abandoned Pushing Daisies, Ned doesn’t believe in magic. When even Fred Willard, playing the Great Herrmann, can’t save a show, there’s just nothing to be done. To cut to the chase, Ned grows to accept his two half-brothers, and Chuck’s secret is jeopardized when Dwight Dixon tries to rob her grave but finds her body missing. The moral of the episode, and a bittersweet epitaph for the series, is that “magic isn’t just what disappears, but what reappears when you least expect it.” Hat’s off to you, Mr. Fuller, and better luck next time.

How many of you are interested in seeing Pushing Daisies continue in another form? I think the charm of the show will be even harder to translate to a comic book (no Lee Pace!), but I’d be interested in seeing how the plot lines resolve. What do you think?

And remember, though the show has been cancelled, its lame duck season still has seven episodes left, which ABC has promised to air. Unless the schedule changes, the show returns next Wednesday at 8pm EST with “Robbing Hood.” Watch it! Or don’t. It doesn’t matter anymore.

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