Monday, November 24, 2008

Bye, Bye Pushing Daisies

I heard the expected sad news last week that pushing daisies had been canceled. Abigail Nussbaum, who maintains a tremendous science fiction blog, pens her farewell to Daisies here.

As so many others have said, the fact that this smart, unusual, gorgeous show has been cancelled while shows like Knight Rider (which I've never watched because every reaction I've seen has been wholly negative) and the new Life on Mars (whose unsubtle hectoring drove me away after two episodes) survive is a travesty, and something that ABC, and the television industry in general, should be ashamed of.

I know that caring too much about television is asking to be hurt. It's a medium designed to appeal to the broadest audience possible, and anything that's too different or too quirky to have more than a niche appeal is going to get cut down. Still, this smarts. In an increasingly barren television landscape, Pushing Daisies was a breath of fresh air. It could always be counted on to surprise and delight me. It never cut corners on any of its characters and never looked down on the emotions they were feeling. It brightened my day, and I looked forward to it every week.

Pushing Daisies was the show that proved that cute and charming isn't the same thing as brainless or emotionally inauthentic, an attitude that's far too uncommon in television nowadays.

I couldn't put it any better, but allow me to add this. Daisies is a show that's perhaps too good for television, the sort of show that requires much more effort than practically everything else on tv. I say this from personal experience, as my wife and I have accumulated several weeks worth of Daisies episodes on the DVR on several different occasions. It's not that the show is so densely plotted it requires 100% of your attention, it's that the show is so beautifully and creatively filmed and the dialog is so witty and creative that watching Daisies is more like watching a feature film than a television show.

For what it's worth, I think Daisies has suffered in viewership because it's the rare show that mixes a week-by-week procedural with a continual character tapestry that is the true heart of the show. And unlike the Lost's or Heroes's of the world, Daisies isn't an epic and is just ultimately about it's characters. Perhaps in the future more people will be able to enjoy a show like Daisies, but for now, I suppose I should be happy we're going to get twenty some odd episodes of it.


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