Some back story, for those interested in potentially picking up the remote. The show is difficult to explain; a woman who writes for my local newspaper tried to, after explaining she was prematurely mourning the show's demise. It was so muddled even I, an avid viewer of the show, became a bit perplexed. So let's start with the easy part: there is a narrator. We begin almost every episode via the way-back machine, to see exactly how the characters we are following as adults came to be by seeing how they behaved/were treated as children. Ned, the Pie Maker, has by far the saddest tale - and since he is the main character, he has more of these way-back moments dedicated to him. But he, Chuck, and now Olive have all had them. Ned is, as I said, a pie maker, referenced frequently as "The Pie Maker". Which quite logically leads to the part where he makes pies and sells them at The Pie Hole, where Olive Snook works. Ned has another gift beyond being able to make delicious baked goods, and that is the ability to bring the dead back to life. He can only keep the dead alive for 60 seconds, though, or someone (or something) of comparable value (flowers for fruit, squirrels for birds, and fully grown humans for other fully grown humans) dies in that formerly dead thing's place. Once re-alived, one more touch from Ned will return them to the grave forever. Enter Chuck, otherwise known as Charlotte. She was dead, and then re-alived and kept alive by Ned, as she was his childhood sweetheart. He discovered her due to Emerson, who makes his living as a private investigator by taking on murder cases and splitting the profits with Ned in exchange for Ned's use of his dubious talent. Confused yet?
What makes the show is partially in the weird interweaving of the various characters (like, Olive takes pies to Chuck's aunts, because the aunts don't know Chuck is no longer dead and Olive doesn't know Chuck has ever truly been dead) and the strange mythology and partially in the way the show handles those weird interwoven relationships. And also, the strange quirk of language, a facet I just love. The show is a bit soap operaish, in the way that Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a bit soap operaish. Pushing Daisies has star crossed lovers in Ned and Chuck, forbidden to touch ever again; but they both make the best of that and live their relationship as fully as they can under the circumstances. It is also a show where secrets (like Ned accidentally causing Chuck's father's death) come out rapidly. These characters can act stupidly; they make mistakes, and they see the world differently. But they are oddly mature in their interactions. Instead of seasons' long mysteries, the truth is willingly exposed quite often, and in an interesting way.
What I really love about the show, though, is the state of whimsy. Olive and Chuck, one wanting to be with Ned but barred due to Ned's disinterest and one wanting to be with Ned but barred due to instincts of self preservation, form a sweet friendship. Ned and Emerson have an odd friendship, as do Olive and Emerson. And while the other main characters (included here are Chuck's two aunts) are filled up to their eyeballs with quirk, Emerson is a needed character: disillusioned, caustic, and obsessed with money, he acts as the audience stand in. Even with Emerson, though, the twisted fairy tale aspect of the show is its clear selling point; a take on the question, what does happen after the Prince kisses the Princess and they ride off? What does 'happily ever after' look like in a world fractured by death and murder and mayhem? And most importantly, how can we make it sweetly funny, and also touchingly morbid? Bryan Fuller fulfills all of those to the hilt. So watch the damn show, and let Jim Dale fill you in on the happenings and the rest of the world fill you in on the charm and wonder of this forensics fairy tale.