PUSHING DAISIES “The Legend of Merle McQuoddy”: Cod and Snook, Inc.

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The opening moments of this week’s Pushing Daisies seemed a little disappointing at first–after last week’s dramatic set-up, Ned’s hasty willingness to forgive Chuck for keeping her reanimated father alive and lying about it seemed like it was going to deflate some perfectly good tension too quickly. Charles Charles’ desire to make Chuck choose between pie and cake, however, neatly reinjected that tension back into the story. The mid-episode fight about the role of Daddy Deadest–which has been a long time coming for our lovebirds–underscores the ultimate reason why this show is getting cancelled: it isn’t stagnant. Characters change; the story moves forward. This show was always meant for cable, I guess, where shows can get away with such arcs and a few million viewers. Dear FX or AMC: Don’t you need to fill another slot? I know of a show that already has all the development done…

In addition to their forward movement, the characters are so well-drawn that any combination of them can rip us up. Last week we had Ned and Olive at the Comfort Food Cook-off consoling Vivan while Emerson helped Chuck bury Dwight Dixon and avoid aunt/mother Lily. This week focused on Ned and Chuck’s relationship, appropriately swiveling the aunts back into their orbit, while Emerson took on Olive as a junior PI-in-training. The mystery of the week was relatively forgettable (even with the wonderful Mary Kay Place on board), but its outcome–Emerson and Olive bonding–was priceless. From tiny Kristin Chenoweth trying to chest-bump not-tiny Chi McBride to Emerson’s tender declaration that “Itty Bitty” has taught him to love a rainy day again, we’re champing at the bit (of Olive’s desceased mount) for the spinoff. By day, they solve crimes. By night, they make pies. And sing.

Other delights: Rankin-Bass style claymation of the adventures Young Chuck and her father plan. Real estate agents who are shocked to find “The Secret” doesn’t work. Barbershop quartets (joined by Olive) selling a lighthouse-based day spa by singing “Candle on the Water”, capping off multiple references to Jim Dale-vehicle Pete’s Dragon. Remind me again why this show is being cancelled? Surely ABC could sell enough raincoats embossed with pie, fish, and olives to keep the show afloat.

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