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'Pushing Daisies' recap: Alive as he could be

Season 1 | Episode 9 | “Corpsicle” | Aired Dec 12, 2007

“Corpsicle” wasn’t meant to be the season 1 finale. It was just the Christmas episode before the threat of the writers’ strike forced a series of last-minute edits. The result is a busy script that delivers more heartbreak than holiday cheer. Then again, it’s just like Pushing Daisies, which finds sweetness in death, to find gloom in something festive. It is the darkest time of the year, after all.

The flashbacks to Ned’s childhood have been some of this season’s saddest moments, and the finale tops them all by revisiting the death of Chuck’s father and Ned’s mother. We’ve seen these events already, from the perspective of a confused young Ned, but now we get the aftermath, with all of its awkward pauses. The newly orphaned Chuck had to wait at Ned’s for her aunts to arrive. Ned couldn’t even look her in the eye. He could only stare at his mother, who had already died once earlier that day, as she did her best to offer comfort. When Ned’s touch killed his mother later that night, he showed up at Lily and Vivian’s door, and Lily—who hadn’t yet been able to bring herself to hug Chuck—embraced him. Vivian’s confusion (“Another something happened?”) pretty much sums it up. All kinds of somethings happened that day, all of them impossible to believe.

pushing daisies 109 ned sad

Ned’s gift is no more believable now, apparently. Chuck hides out in Olive’s apartment to process the news that Ned was responsible for her father’s death, and Olive has too many questions to stay quiet any longer. She has to know why Chuck faked her death. Chuck offers up the truth—that she died and Ned brought her back to life—but Olive takes it as a joke. Even then, she respects Chuck’s privacy and bakes a pie for Lily and Vivian. Olive is a really good friend.

Meanwhile, Emerson tries to pull Ned out of his funk with a new case. Insurance adjuster Victor Narramore was found frozen to death, killed with a baseball bat that had “kindness” scratched into its barrel. Narramore’s job was to assess who could receive organ transplants, so a lot of sick kids are suspects in this murder. Happy holidays! Emerson goes to question Abner Newsome, a boy in need of a new heart, but Ned is too worried about Chuck to join the investigation.

Chuck isn’t far from home—she’s just up on the roof—but she may still be in danger. She’s confronted by Oscar Vibenius (Paul Reubens), the olfactory expert who can’t stop obsessing about her smell. He’s even taken some of Digby’s hair for research, because Chuck and Digby share a scent like nothing else out there. Chuck won’t give Oscar an explanation, but she wants to. When Ned finds her in Olive’s apartment, Chuck admits how badly she wants to talk to someone. She understands that Ned didn’t know what he was doing all those years ago, but she still has to hate him for a little while, so he can’t be the one to help her through this. As soon as Ned shuffles out, Chuck drops a note to Oscar, asking him to meet. When they do, she offers him a piece of her hair.


Emerson visits Abner, a spoiled grinch of a kid who uses his illness as an excuse to belittle everyone. The boy isn’t any help, but the body in the snowman outside might be. He’s Bill Richter, another insurance adjuster, and he also remembers being killed with the kind end of a baseball bat. Richter tells Ned and Emerson to talk to a coworker named Kevin Vanden Eykel, but Kevin is missing. Fellow Uber Life employee Steve Kaiser explains that Narramore, Richter and Vanden Eykel all rejected Abner for a heart transplant. Kaiser makes a show of being upset about it, as if calling a system corrupt gets him off the hook for being a part of it.

Ned and Emerson return to the Newsome house, where Abner has managed to break the spirit of Wish-a-Wish Foundation representative Madeline McLean. As they stake out Abner’s front yard for a third body, Ned worries about whether he should give Chuck a minute to say goodbye to her father. Emerson advises against it; the issues between a father and a daughter can’t be confined to sixty seconds, and he should know. Emerson has a daughter of his own. He doesn’t want to talk about it.

pushing daisies 109 co2

Ned wakes up the next morning to a car full of carbon monoxide and a potato in his exhaust pipe. He manages to get Emerson out of the car after repeatedly assuring him that he’s still alive, and not just alive again. (“And I can be not dead for longer than a minute?”) Such are the hazards of working with Ned. While the guys were passed out, the body of the missing insurance adjuster found its way to the Newsomes’ front yard, but they have a lead: Abner’s mother mentions that Madeline McLean called to ask for the name of the latest insurance adjuster to reject his request. Desperate to earn Abner’s approval, McLean has been killing off everyone who denies him a heart. Emerson and Ned track McLean to a parking garage, where she’s about to bash Steve Kaiser’s head. McLean’s bonobo monkey runs her down with her own van, and she grants one last wish as Abner’s heart donor.

By this point, Chuck’s anger at Ned has softened to the point that she’s taken her hair back from Oscar. She only wants to share this secret with Ned, who finds her at her father’s grave. Chuck asks Ned for one minute with her dad, but Ned has had time to do some thinking too, and he’s decided that he couldn’t bear to kill her father a second time. As Chuck wishes for a parent, or at least a hand to hold, Olive delivers her pie to aunts Lily and Vivian. Thinking that it was a weak vanilla, Olive overdosed the pie with herbal mood enhancers, and Lily, feeling the effects, makes a confession to Olive. Everyone ready? Lily is Chuck’s mother.


How did Lily manage to keep this a secret for so long? Will Olive tell Chuck, and if so, how will Chuck respond? I’m so glad we don’t have to spend a whole writers’ strike waiting for these answers. Thanks for joining me for season 1!

Best lines:

“He wasn’t just a star in her life; he was a pocket universe full of stars.” —Narrator

“I also heard you walking the streets, moaning her name like something out of a Tennessee Williams. It may be romantic, but it’s not dignified.” —Olive

“Why would somebody give somebody a Christmas sweater for Christmas? You can only wear it that day.” —Emerson
“He means should only wear it that day.” —Ned

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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