Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rest in Peace, Pushing Daisies

At the precise moment I started writing this, the story of the piemaker was 1 year, 8 months, 12 days, 11 hours, and 52 minutes old. Sadly, the final episode of Pushing Daisies ended 2 days, 9 hours, and 11 minutes ago. That such an amazing show was granted only such a short life is rather ironic, given that the central figure, the aforementioned piemaker, had the unique ability to bring the dead back to life with a touch.

The facts were these: Pushing Daisies premiered (in the United States) on October 3rd, 2007, as one of the most anticipated new television shows of the 2007-2008 season. Initial ratings were good, and the show seemed to be one of those rare shows to actually live up to its own hype. Pushing Daisies was granted an early renewal when the Writers' Strike of that year cut its first season down to a mere 9 episodes. The show then remained absent from our screens for most of the next year, until the second season finally began on October 1, 2008. Sadly, the long absence from public awareness proved too much for the tale of the piemaker, and ratings never approached their first season levels. Pushing Daisies was quietly pulled from the network schedule, disappearing around Christmastime with three episodes filmed, but never aired. Those three episodes were just as quietly shown in a Saturday-at-10:00 pm time-slot (dare I say, a "graveyard slot"?) over the past few weeks.

I don't really understand the whims of network decision-making, but I truly feel that ABC mishandled this show in light of the strike. The strike forced the show to go off-air prematurely. The network couldn't do anything about that. What they could do was publicity. Although there was indeed an advertising campaign for Pushing Daisies as it approached the beginning of its second season, I think the show would have done FAR better if that campaign was accompanied by broadcasting the season one episodes a second time in the couple of months immediately preceding the beginning of the second season, in order to re-introduce viewers to the storyline. Unfortunately, broadcast networks seem to be especially allergic to doing reruns in these days of internet accessibility, except for their very-highest-rated shows. One can certainly blame the 2007 Writers' Strike for doing the damage, but it was this resistance to airing reruns that, in my opinion, put the nail in the coffin.

Appropriately enough for a show about a person who could raise the dead, there remains the possibility of life after death for Pushing Daisies. Creator Bryan Fuller has worked out a deal with DC Comics to do a 12-issue Pushing Daisies comic book. I've found no word at this point as to when such a series would be available, and given the unpredictability of the comic book industry, it still might not happen at all. But I appreciate the effort made into making sure that the story of Pushing Daisies may not yet be entirely dead.

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