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'Pushing Daisies' recap: Death by scratch and sniff

Season 1 | Episode 7 | “Smell of Success” | Aired Nov 21, 2007

Late at night at the Longborough School for Boys, young Ned learned to channel the loss of his mother into pie baking, even though he couldn’t eat the pies he baked. He could only wrap himself around them in bed and enjoy their smell. That basically sums up Ned’s life: holding tightest to the things he can’t touch. He doesn’t even want Chuck to expand her bee-and-flower operation to the rooftops across the street. Chuck would have the city dripping in honey from every rooftop if she could, but until then, she’ll settle for adding miniature cup pies to the Pie Hole’s menu. Ned is scandalized. Nontraditional pies are about as scandalous as Ned’s life gets—when he’s not waking the dead.

pushing daisies 107 ned rolling pin

Death pulls him away from cup pies when a scratch-and-sniff book explodes, killing one Anita Gray. A student of olfactory science expert Napoleon LaNez, Anita sniffed out an advance copy of his upcoming self-help book, The Smell of Success, which was rigged to blow. It seems that someone was trying to kill LaNez, possibly for the fact that his book was moved up the release schedule at the expense of an adult pop-up book (Pop-Up Pin-Ups). Ned and Emerson visit the author, Chas Spielman, and find that he’s written a book about bombs, so naturally he’s innocent. Emerson confiscates a few of Spielman’s pop-up how-to guides anyway, in the name of good P.I. work.

Meanwhile, Olive is on a mission for Chuck, who wants to get aunts Lily and Vivian out of the house and back into the pool, where they dazzled for years as renowned synchronized swimming duo the Darling Mermaid Darlings. Since Olive was a fan of the Darlings, she persuades Lily and Vivian to pull their old costumes out of storage. Vivian seems ready to jump back in the water, especially after Chuck takes a cue from LeNez and sends chlorine tablets with the weekly pie, but Lily finds one of Chuck’s mom’s old sweaters and shuts down. When Olive asks, Lily will only say that Chuck’s mother died.

Back at the Pie Hole, Ned finds a grammatically tragic tube sock in his sink that reads “u can’t save lenez” [sic]. The overwhelming sewer odor points to Oscar Vibenius, LeNez’s ex-lab partner and rival in the field of olfactory science. The two consciously uncoupled after realizing that their theories diverged beyond repair: While LeNez purges his home of any smells that don’t elicit positive memories, Vibenius believes in embracing the bad smells to appreciate the good. Since his split with LeNez, Vibenius has mostly kept to the sewers, which is where Ned, Chuck and Emerson find him, along with a methane gas hose that blows LeNez’s car sky high.

pushing daisies 107 chuck

Vibenius disappears, only to turn up later at the Pie Hole. He confronts Olive, who comes at him with a knife, and an emotional Chuck, now wrapped in her mother’s sweater. After convincing them that he was actually trying to shut off the methane and save LeNez, Vibenius smells up the ladies (it’s exactly like it sounds). Olive is easy—she smells like dog—but Chuck’s scent is more complicated, with notes of honey and death. LeNez said the same when he met her, but he attributed the death to her perfume. Chuck isn’t wearing perfume, and Vibenius knows it. He also knows that methane doesn’t smell like rotten eggs, and only someone who wanted to play into public perception would manipulate its scent. The explosion has to be LeNez’s handiwork.

Because LeNez conveniently unlocked his car from across the street, he was unharmed in the blast. It actually boosted the presales of his book. To make the most of these 15 minutes of fame, LaNez has arranged a press interview, complete with Ned and Emerson as witnesses. Ned gets bored and snoops, as you do, and finds himself checking under his host’s bed, as you do, and he stumbles upon a tube sock like the one in his sink, marked with almost the same warning. He confronts LeNez with the evidence. (“You set Oscar up. After you figured out the correct SPACING.”) LeNez orchestrated the whole thing to drum up publicity, though he never counted on killing Anita. His intent was to discover the trap before its detonation. It’s possible that he didn’t think this through all the way.

pushing daisies 107 decontamination

LeNez locks Ned and Emerson in his decontamination chamber, which he’s rigged with explosive gas, but our team is one step ahead. With Chuck and Olive’s help, Vibenius has reprogrammed LeNez’s entire system, flooding his home with all of the natural smells that LeNez prefers to avoid. The outside air is too much for him, and he collapses. This has to be the first time that fresh air has assisted in a criminal arrest.

With LeNez in custody, Ned adds cup pies to the menu at the Pie Hole, because who wants to be the kind of person who decontaminates himself against the world? Change happens. Even Lily and Vivian are diving back into the pool, trading their unhappiness for at least the chance of something better. Only Vibenius hasn’t figured out how to let go—he’s still following Chuck around, trying to sort out what she smells like, and he’s taken her mother’s sweater. This could get problematic.

Vibenius poses a real threat to Chuck and Ned (and just as I was starting to warm to him), which is the kind of shake-up this show needs as it ramps up to the first-season finale. What do you think Vibenius’ curiosity might expose? And how do you feel about cup pies? Feel free to support your argument by mailing baked goods to my doorstep. Lee Pace as delivery man is optional, but highly encouraged.

Best lines:

“You know. We grew apart and lost interest. Had intimate relations on a bearskin rug.” —Ned

“Lily doesn’t believe in water anymore. She thinks it’s a waste of a perfectly good tumbler.” —Vivian

“OK, if that happens, I’ll say something like, ‘What is this, a police state?’ If I ever say that, it means I’m having a panic attack.” —Ned

“Sure hope there’s methane down here, ’cause the skinny ones are the first to go.” —Emerson


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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