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''Pushing Daisies'' recap: Ned fights for Chuck

A mystery set at Chuck’s former funeral home ends with Ned fencing with an Asian American Civil War reenactor

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Lee Pace

”Pushing Daisies” recap: Ned fights for Chuck

This week’s episode title? ”The Fun in Funeral.” And since I can’t seem to help putting the ”Wa?” in TV Watch, I will admit I had some issues with the whole logistics angle. In the candyland fantasia of a show like this, that concern is perhaps misplaced. Certainly no one wants to lift the curtain on Oz and see the shrivelly little guy working the levers, right? People want magic!

And there is still magic to be had in the zippy chemistry of Ned and Chuck. That Saran Wrap kiss? Hott, with two t‘s. But must every episode begin with another recap of Ned’s unique giveth-and-taketh-away talents and how they work? It’s like they don’t trust regular viewers to remember, or perhaps they’re just aiding the newbies who’ve turned in to see what all the buzz is about, but we’d appreciate a straight cut to the goods in future airings. It will be interesting to see, as well, whether every ep begins with young, boarding-school Ned exploring his powers. (Side note: How Harry Potter was that firefly-lab scene? Adorbs!)

We do, however, salute the show’s creators for getting ”Be Kind to Animals, Kiss a Beaver” past the censors — only later in the hour did Chuck’s aunts acknowledge what a dirty bird 8-year-old Ned must have been to have given Chuck a T-shirt emblazoned with that slogan. But we digress: Back to our logistical quibbles. It’s good that Ned was forced to wrangle with the moral issues of allowing the funeral director — albeit a morbidly obese, grave-robbing sleaze of a funeral director — to die for Chuck’s resurrection, but hasn’t anybody ever heard of an autopsy? Everyone’s asking, Was he murdered? Was it poison? Check him and see, people! That’s what modern medicine is for! Then again, the exterior of that morgue made it look more like a hotel in Barbados than a place for serious cadaver fiddling, so maybe scratch that.

Onward! Olive Snook had some great lines this week, didn’t she? When Detective Emerson gave a too blunt assessment of Ned’s feelings for her, her response — ”That’s not a truth bus; it’s the bitchy crosstown express” — was a sparkler, as was her zinger toward the man with the mysterious apothecary bottles: ”This is a pie shop, not an herbal crack den.” Will he be back for future episodes? It seems so. In the meantime, Chuck is still dressing like a brunette, incognito Grace Kelly and traipsing along on Emerson and Ned’s death-becomes-them adventures. Her reaction to Ned’s ”accidental involuntary manslaughter” of the first Schatz brother seemed both sweet and measured. Then again, does a guy deserve to actually die just because he’s kind of slovenly and steals sentimental trinkets from the dead? Food for thought. One thing’s for sure: Every commercial break this week hinged on a cliff-hanger, and while we’re not sure whether Olive’s discovery of Chuck’s aunts will lead to some wider revelation, we did enjoy the sheer silliness of Wilfred Woodruff, the good ol’ boy who also just happened to be totally Asian American. The Civil War flashback and Woodruff-Ned swordfight was also fun. Though who hides top-secret, ill-gotten funeral booty behind a velvet curtain, right inside the funeral home? Again, reality intrudes into our analytical brains, exactly when we should be floating away on the fairy-tale sweetness of the show.

So here’s what we’d like to see: More of that crackling dialogue, fewer not-even-really-a-mystery mysteries. Keep to the points that feel genuine (Ned and Chuck’s romance, Olive’s pining), and ease up on the forced stuff.

Readers, are we being too harsh? Maybe we’ve just got the three-episode itch. Or maybe you’re feeling it too. (By the way, we’ll be covering this show as a stand-alone TV Watch from now on. Are you with us on that?)