We’ve devoted considerable attention (read: whinerpantsering) to the mystery of why the delightful Pushing Daisies has not been successful at capturing enough hearts to stay alive. “The Norwegians” may help provide some answers. While I adored it–how could I not? It addressed a key character issue that sticks in my craw and had a higher-than-average number of sly jokes–it felt like an hour of television that might seem impenetrable to someone who just stumbled over the show on a Wednesday night.
This hypothetical newbie might have gotten the giggles over a Mobile Investigative Lab Facility nicknamed Mother (wow). She might have laughed even harder at Shaft references or a Titanic-esque sketch of a lost love or a DNA match making a Norwegian flag or at a subterfuge suggesting that miscreants with blue and yellow truncheons stole Mother or at the male lead Norwegian detective having a surname like Olsdattir. But she also might reasonably ask why the rival detectives are Norwegian. Loyal Daisies enthusiasts know the answer is “because it’s funny,” but someone watching the show for the first time might not as easily decipher what has deep meaning and what is merely a juicy joke.
Our new viewer almost certainly wouldn’t feel the full pain that plays out in the synchronized swimming sisters’ relationship, especially whenVivian has to tell Lily Charlotte’s body has been “stolen from her grave.” She wouldn’t understand why Olive is suddenly much more content with impending death when Ned admits he wouldn’t say he’s never felt attraction for her, or why Olive’s frustration over being excluded from secrets is more than overdue. She wouldn’t feel the full weight of how touching it is that cynical, arrogant Emerson feels responsible for involving everyone in danger. Heck, she might not even have a full appreciation for the juciest joke in the episode, Jim Dale’s narrator intoning “Oh, HELL no” when we think Olive might be a traitor. All of these tidbits combine to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts, so if a newer viewer can’t get the parts in the first place, that might cause problems. Why can’t five million of us watching every week be enough? The Tudors finale got fewer than a million viewers; Dexter‘s got 1.5 million. True Blood allegedly gets 6 million viewers when you count DVR delay and On Demand viewing, and it stinks on ice. Dear pay cable networks: here’s a show that might not grow brand new viewers for itself right now, but it might bring a chunk of devoted new subscribers your way.