Last season, Pushing Daisies became the critics’ new darling TV show. The quirky drama attracted a lot of attention and was nominated for a dozen Emmys. Last Spring, the show was given a second chance at life. Will it receive a third?
Pushing Daisies tells the tale of Ned (Lee Pace), a pie-maker who’s able to bring people back from the dead with his touch. However, if he touches the person a second time, they’re dead for good — a fact that keeps him from embracing his formerly-deceased sweetheart, Charlotte “Chuck” (Anna Friel). Because his baking work isn’t very lucrative, Ned goes into business with a private-eye named Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) and they solve cases where only the deceased have the answers. Others series characters include Olive (Kristin Chenoweth), a waitress at Ned’s bakery; Chuck’s mother, Lily (Swoosie Kurtz); Chuck’s bizarre Aunt Vivian (Ellen Greene); and the series’ all-knowing narrator (Jim Dale).
The unique and lighthearted drama debuted on ABC on October 3, 2007. It attracted a lot of press, over 13 million viewers, and a 4.3/13 rating/share of the desirable 18-49 demographic. The second episode dropped to 10.3 million and a rating/share of 3.7/11.
The series’ viewership continued to decline in the next several weeks, dropping as low as 7.5 million and 2.3/7. In December, following a rebroadcast of the How the Grinch Stole Christmas special, episode eight attracted almost 10.2 million viewers and a 3.8/9. The additional viewers didn’t stick around for the following week and Daisies dropped to a series low of 6.85 million and a 2.4/7 in the 18-49 demographic.
Episode nine ended up becoming the last episode of the season because production was interrupted by the infamous writers strike. Had the disruption not happened and the ratings trend continued, the show would never have been renewed for a second season. But, likely because of the show’s good press, unique creative voice, and ABC’s limited selection of new shows for the 2008-09 season, Daisies was given a second chance for life in May 2008.
Rather than produce new episodes for season one, the network execs decided to relaunch the show in the fall. It was a risky strategy that hasn’t worked out for any of the network’s second year shows. With the show’s ratings history, were they hoping that the audience would treat it like a new show?
Daisies’ second season ratings picked up where the previous season’s decline left off, debuting to just 6.32 million and a 2.0/6. Subsequent episodes dropped to a low of 5.55 million viewers. The most recent episode spiked to 6.64 million and a 2.2/6 but that’s still a very meager performance compared to other shows.
This week, the cast and crew will finish production on the last of the network’s 13 episode order for season two. Sadly, it’s almost certainly Daisies’ series finale. The network is not expected to order any more episodes and ABC told producers to treat episode 22 as the series ending. For the network to consider ordering any more episodes, a couple of million people would have to miraculously start watching the show. Pushing Daisies is one of those shows that has very devoted fans, just not enough of them.
ABC has a mid-January deadline to decide on the show’s fate. If they don’t exercise that option, series creator Bryan Fuller is likely to move over to Heroes. NBC execs fired two producers from the troubled show last week. Fuller recently said, “If Daisies isn’t picked up by [mid-January], I will definitely be going back to play with my friends at Heroes.”
Whether or not Daisies will receive an order for additional episodes seems to be a done deal. The more immediate question is whether or not ABC will air all of the episodes that have been produced. With the show’s declining ratings, it’s very possible that the network will soon pull the show from the schedule.
On the upside, fans will sooner or later have some closure. If all of the episodes aren’t shown on TV, the second season is almost guaranteed be released on DVD within the next year. It’s not a third season but it’s certainly better treatment than fans of other shows have been given. Stay tuned!
Image courtesy ABC.