The day the quirk died: Saying goodbye to Pushing Daisies and Eli Stone

<em>Pushing Daisies</em>

Pushing Daisies

Last year’s writer’s strike brought with it an interesting benefit that, as a fan of the not-so-mainstream television shows, I’m not too familiar with: None of the shows I watched last year was canceled. It was a nice little fairy tale universe I lived in for a few months, but thanks to ABC, I have been plunged back into reality.

Yesterday, the network (which I’ll be honest, I still hold a grudge against for cancelling My So-Called Life) announced that it will not be ordering anymore episodes of Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone or Dirty Sexy Money. Curiously, they did not use the word “canceled,” but that is effectively what this move accomplishes. I cannot speak to the merits of Dirty Sexy Money, having never watched the show, but Pushing Daisies was easily my favorite new show of last year’s television season and while I found flaws in Eli Stone, it was entertaining show, if a little heavy-handed with it’s political and social commentary. Both Daisies and Stone brought a sense originality to ABC’s line-up and these are just a few of the things that I will miss:

The magic
Both shows brought with them a bit of the fantastical. The Daisies storyline revolved around a young man with the inexplicable ability to bring dead people back to life, with the hitch that if their resurrection lasts longer than a minute, someone else dies. Stone’s magic was a little bit more biblical in nature, as the titular character has a brain aneurysm that causes him to hallucinate messages (often in the form of musical numbers) from the Almighty.

The cast
The Daisies cast could easily be one of the best ensembles on television. Lee Pace and Anna Friel are both adorable as the lead couple and Chi McBride and Kristen Chenoweth are consistently hilarious in the supporting cast. And, of course, you can’t forget Ellen Greene and Swoosie Kurtz as Friel’s aunts. Stone’s ensemble isn’t nearly as impressive, but I would be lying if I didn’t confess that a large part of the reason I started watching the show was because of Victor Garber (if you’re like me, you’ll forever refer to him as Jack Bristow).

The musical numbers
It must be said, if it weren’t for Eli’s musical hallucinations, I probably would have stopped watching Eli Stone a long time ago. I’m just a sucker for the song and dance. The show started off slow with cameo appearances by George Michael singing some of his famous hits, but gradually took advantage of the Broadway pedigree of some of its cast members (the aforementioned Garber, and Loretta Devine). Recent musical numbers included guest star Katie Holmes cooing Duke Ellington’s “Hit Me With A Hot Note”—while looking very Velma Kelly—and Garber singing Jim Croce’s “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” while several ladies danced around him holding fiery torches. Sadly, I couldn’t find a video clip of Garber’s fiery dance (it only aired three days ago), but I’m only slightly less entertained by this number from last season:

While Stone has musical numbers built into its plot set-up, Daisies just throws them in because they can (and if you had Kristen Chenoweth in your cast, wouldn’t you?). This season’s premiere had Chenoweth’s Olive mimicking Julie Andrews singing on a mountaintop in The Sound of Music and last season she and Ellen Greene had a brief duet of "Birdhouse in Your Soul". There really is nothing like the first time, though, and Olive’s first musical number—singing "Hopelessly Devoted to You" while packing up the Pie Hole—embodies so much of why this show is such fun:

So long Pushing Daisies and Eli Stone. Television will be a little less whimsical without you.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)