Just in time for Thanksgiving, I offer you a healthy serving of pie.
The television series Pushing Daisiesdebuted in October 2007 and ran for two seasons, ending in December 2008, although three unaired episodes would eventually be shown in mid-2009. The first season of the show was cut short due to the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike and only nine episodes of the planned 22 were completed, although creator Bryan Fuller retooled the ninth episode to provide a cliffhanger leading into the second season.
Pushing Daisies followed the adventures of Ned, the Piemaker (Lee Pace), who discovered at an early age that he could bring the dead back to life for 60 seconds with the touch of a finger, although he had to touch them a second time during that 60 seconds or someone else in close proximity would die. Any second touch would kill a person permanently. Effectively orphaned by the death of his mother when he first learned of his ability and his subsequent abandonment by his father, Ned’s secret was accidentally discovered by private investigator Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) and the two partnered to solve murders.
Believe it or not…From 1981 to 1983, The Greatest American Heroaired on ABC. I haven’t watched it since, but my memories of it were that it had an incredible theme song (Joey Scarbury’s “Believe It Or Not”) featured a character named Ralph Hinkley (or, briefly Ralph Hanley or Mr. H. following the 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan), and that when Ralph received his ridiculous red super suit from aliens he promptly lost the user manual and had to figure out how to use it with the help of an FBI agent and Ralph’s girlfriend, played by Connie Sellecca.
Forty years after the show debuted, I decided to watch the series again. I can’t say I was disappointed by it, although part of that has to do with the fact that I went in with rather low expectations of what I was going to watch.
The title role is played by William Katt, a high school teacher who has been assigned a class of the most incorrigible students the school has to offer. Ralph’s high school students, easily among the oldest teenagers ever (when the series began, Katt was 30, Sellecca was 26, and Katt’s high school students were in their mid-twenties), are all clustered together in a class for incorrigibles. Ralph is their sole teacher, having to try to teach them history, science, English, and every other subject, more akin to an elementary school teacher than a high school teacher. One gets the feeling that the school administration views Ralph in the same category and his assignment is because they don’t know what else to do with him.
This is the first article in an occasional series called either Now Streaming or Not Streaming, depending on the availability of the television shows or films I’ll be discussing. In addition to discussing the works, I’ll also note their availability. The series also ties into an issue of the Hugo Award winning fanzine Journey PlanetI’m currently editing that will run appreciations of more than thirty television shows that were cancelled within two seasons. I start this series with The Middleman (which is covered in Journey Planet by The Middleman screenwriter Margaret Dunlap).
On June 16 2008, Javier Grillo-Marxuach’s series The Middlemandebuted on ABC Family and aired a dozen episodes before disappearing on September 1, possibly because nobody knew that ABC Family was airing original programming, or they just assumed anything that was airing on the channel was aimed at families with young children. Unfortunately, that meant that a lot of people missed out on an excellent send-up of comic books that paid intelligent homage to pop culture. I was unaware of the show until Grillo-Marxuach was invited to be a guest of honor at Capricon 32 in Chicago, when I picked up the series and was blown away by it.