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'Pushing Daisies' recap: Like a hypoglycemic werewolf

Season 1 | Episode 5 | “Girth” | Aired Oct 31, 2007

Ned can bring people back from the dead, but he doesn’t like Halloween. It’s not because the ghost stories, cardboard zombies and toilet-paper mummies are insults to his very special gift. He just misses his family. After Ned’s mother died, he was shipped off to boarding school to receive only one piece of Halloween mail: a notice that his father had moved. Specifically, “we” moved, the “we” being Ned’s dad, Ned’s dad’s new wife, and Ned’s dad’s new stepsons. Young Ned watched them from inside a ghost costume, then curled up in his old empty house where his bed used to be.

When you started watching the colorful show about a man who baked pies, did you know it would rip out your heart?

Chuck, of course, wasn’t there when Halloween fell out of Ned’s favor, so she decks the Pie Hole in jack-o’-lanterns, and Ned stands there shuddering in his gloriously turned-up coat collar and thanks her anyway. This lack of conflict doesn’t do Olive any good. How can she push them apart if they won’t even fight? Olive confronts Chuck about “faking her death,” claiming to know Ned better than Chuck does. One of them knows the details of Ned’s current life and one of them knows his big secret, so I’d call it a draw. They could both learn from each other. It’s about time for these ladies to team up and solve a crime.

pushing daisies 105 chuck halloween

When jockey Lucas Shoemaker is found dead at the stables, Olive takes the case to Emerson. The facts are these: Olive used to be a jockey. She raced for eight years before her competitor, John Joseph Jacobs, fell from his horse at the Jock-Off 2000. In the lead at the time (“ideal for winning but not for falling”), John Joseph was trampled by everyone else in the race, Olive included. Olive went on to win, but she quit racing the next day. Now, seven years later, she worries that someone is seeking revenge; given what Ned learns from Shoemaker, it seems the avenger might be be John Joseph’s ghost.

While Ned goes solo on a mopey secret mission, Olive and Emerson check out John Joseph’s tomb, where they find a legless horse skeleton and a surprising amount of oyster crackers, but no sign of John Joseph. Along with Chuck, Olive and Emerson visit John Joseph’s mother, who says that she cremated her son and gave his horse a proper burial. Priorities: She has them. (The horse’s name is “All the Gold,” just in case you weren’t sure what Mamma Jacobs values most. Be on the lookout for the life that momentarily shoots through Emerson’s veins when he thinks there’s actual gold involved.) As they leave, Olive expresses concern that Pinky, the jockeys’ go-to bartender, will be the next to die. She’s right. Welcome to crime-solving, Olive, you natural.

pushing daisies girth ned aunts

Ned, meanwhile, has returned to his childhood home, still empty after all those years. He lies where his bed used to be and thinks about happier times before visiting Chuck’s aunts. Lily and Vivian offer him a slice of pie, and he asks them about his father. Vivian sugarcoats it — the nicest compliments she can manage are, “He was a handsome man, and he liked to edge his lawn on Saturdays” — but Lily calls out Ned’s father for abandoning him. As Ned attempts to bury his feelings in pie, a strawberry goes bad in his mouth, and he realizes that it’s one of his. Touched by Chuck’s scheme, he tells the aunts that he’s been sending the pies and promises to keep them coming.

Rejoining the team at the jockeys’ bar, Ned asks Pinky who killed him. Again, the culprit seems to be the ghost of John Joseph. Olive admits that John Joseph’s girth was tampered with: One of the jockeys cut it, but rather than present the evidence and drag all of their names through the mud, they burned it and agreed never to come clean. Of those jockeys, only Gordon and Olive are still alive. While Ned and Emerson go to find Gordon, Chuck guards Olive at her apartment.

pushing daisies 105 chuck olive

Chuck thanks Olive for not spilling her secret, promising that she’s keeping out of her aunts’ lives for a reason, and Olive acknowledges that it’s not her secret to tell. It’s ladies first in this love triangle. Olive follows a golden horseshoe up to her roof, Chuck follows Olive, and just like that, they’re both face-to-face with John Joseph, who might be about two feet taller than he should be, but he’s definitely not a ghost. John Joseph survived the fall, and the doctors replaced his broken legs with those of his horse, but Mamma Jacobs has kept him in the house ever since.

Encouraging John Joseph to rejoin the world, Olive and Chuck take him to talk to his mother, but she isn’t home because she’s out trampling people to death. Shoemaker told her about the cover-up, and now Mamma Jacobs is out to avenge her son’s career. She chases Olive and Chuck into the woods, where Chuck sprains her ankle. Heels maybe aren’t the best shoes to wear for a murder investigation.

Olive volunteers to end this whole thing by sacrificing herself, but just as the horse barrels toward her, Ned sweeps her out of the way. He really couldn’t be any more gallant if he tried. Olive seizes her opportunity to kiss the pie maker, but he drops her as soon as Chuck hobbles through the trees. Olive might not be the one who makes Ned smile like Chuck does, but she deserves so much more than she’s getting right now. As Mamma Jacobs goes to jail, Ned takes Chuck to trick-or-treat at her aunts’ house under a ghost sheet, because it worked for him once, right? Definitely no risk there.

Did “Girth” make you feel any different for Olive? Kristin Chenoweth probably would make a killer jockey. How sad was Ned’s Halloween abandonment? And exactly how adorable does Digby look in a sheet?

pushing daisies 105 digby ghost

Best lines:

“They say they do not suspect any foul play at this time. In other news, kittens on parade!”

“That’s not fair. Just because there’s magic in one place doesn’t mean there’s magic in every place.”

“Those doctors were artists. It only took two years until I could walk up the basement stairs on my own, and only another three until my mama let me.”

“Swizzle sticks, we’re out of crackers.”

“What if he changes when his blood sugar drops?”
“Like a hypoglycemic werewolf!”

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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