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'Pushing Daisies' recap: Sun-dappled anything

Season 2 | Episode 2 | “Circus Circus” | Aired Oct 8, 2008

For the first time since he touched her back to life over a year ago, Ned and Chuck are each living alone. It’s a fresh start for both of them. Ned tried a fresh start once, and he didn’t like it. After 76 days at the Longborough School for Boys, the boy who would become the Pie Maker ran away.

On his way out of the woods, he met a kindergarten field trip and brightened their day by bringing a few young birds back to life, only to have that backfire when the birds killed in return turned out to be the kids’ class project. Deciding that new beginnings were just new opportunities for disappointment, Ned turned back to the school. His empty apartment is a bit like that class project—it was doing just fine before he took a chance on happiness.

Chuck is handling her fresh start much better than Ned is. She’s never lived alone before, and seeing as how she died trying to be independent, she might as well follow through. The only problem with her new life is that it was made possible by losing Olive. Chuck misses her friend, and so does Ned, even if he won’t admit it. Since Olive resigned, there’s been extra work for everyone at the Pie Hole, which really means that Chuck runs around helping people while Ned talks about cases with Emerson.


A teenage girl by the name of Nikki Heaps is missing. Her mother Georgeann, who isn’t very good at emotion (“What emotion?” “All of them”), shows up at Emerson’s door to enlist his help, and as the father of a missing daughter, he can’t very well say no. Chuck sits down with Nikki’s best friend and eventually teases out the truth: Nikki wanted to be a star, so she ran away with a mime named Rocky. I love that we’re watching a show where running away with a mime is a gateway to stardom.

Rocky is found dead in his tricked-out van, the victim of poisoned makeup. Nikki broke up with Rocky for a clown in the Circus of Fun. That should have been her first warning sign. Anything with the word “fun” in its name is trying too hard and is rarely fun. The ringmaster’s assistant says that Nikki was last seen with head clown Jackie Johnny, who also turns out to be dead, having been run off the road with 14 other clowns in his car. This missing persons case now officially has more dead bodies than most of Emerson’s murder cases.

At the morgue, Johnny explains that Nikki had to stay after the show and hose down Bryce von Deenis, last night’s unlucky victim of audience participation. An elephant and a dirty limerick may have been involved. Ned, Chuck and Emerson lure von Deenis to the Pie Hole with the promise of free pie, which is the best way to lure anyone anywhere. They suspect him of killing the clowns out of revenge, but von Deenis promises that he left Nikki alive, and Emerson confirms his alibi. This means that technically, Nikki could have run the clowns off the road, but Emerson still thinks she’s innocent. Ned figures out that Emerson lost his daughter too, and Emerson clarifies that his wife took her seven years ago.

Meanwhile, Chuck has been singlehandedly running the Pie Hole, which she feels is Ned’s way of punishing her for moving out. Just as she’s closing down the shop, Vivian shows up unannounced, giving Chuck barely enough time to dive over the counter and into the kitchen. (Related: Chuck would make a decent spy, if she weren’t so transparent with her emotions and so terrible at disguises. The woman can DIVE.) Huddled out of sight, Chuck grunts out responses to Vivian, who says that Lily has gone on an overnight trip again. She also asks about Olive, whose pie deliveries helped both aunts on their road to recovery. Chuck, almost in tears, slides a pie onto the counter.


Out in a nunnery in the Swiss Alps and yet somehow still within driving distance, Olive is spilling everyone’s secrets to Pigby. She clarifies an important point: Vivian ended her relationship with Chuck’s dad because he admitted to having an affair. He just didn’t admit that it was with Lily, who shows up at the convent to say that she still feels guilty. She had hoped that her guilt would fade with Chuck’s death, but she can’t let it go. Olive has secrets of her own to keep her from going home. She promises not to share any of them, but she does divulge one: She’s still in love with Ned, and he’s in love with someone else.

As they search the circus grounds for Nikki, Ned apologizes to Chuck for panicking so much about her move. Chuck doesn’t want to be as terrified of change as she was in her life before, which Ned accepts with the help of a terrible butterfly metaphor. He just worries about whether she’ll still have room for him. How can she start over with someone who only knows her as she was?

Nikki’s own attempt at a fresh start isn’t going so well for her. Hearing that the clowns wanted to form a union, the ringmaster used Nikki as his spy. Pierre the Acrobat overheard their conversation and, fearing that a union would ruin the circus, followed the clowns to scare them. Nikki saw him run the clowns off the road, and she’s been hiding ever since. Pierre holds Nikki at gunpoint and drags her up to the high wire, but Ned knocks him out with a baseball and sends him to jail. Nikki returns home to her mother, who worries that she doesn’t know who her daughter is anymore. Emerson insists that she should love what’s there. (“LOVE IT.”) Emerson should follow Ned everywhere and remind him to do the same.

Ned still misses waking up to the sight of Chuck, but he’s doing his best to embrace this new beginning. It doesn’t hurt that he now gets to role-play a meet-cute with the girl next door every morning as they leave their apartments. She might have to occasionally dive behind the counter to hide from her aunts, who are themselves trying to start fresh, but I think Chuck has that covered.

So how does Chuck move forward with someone who knows so much of her past? What kind of fresh start does Ned need most? And how much longer can Olive hide out in the nunnery?

Best Lines

“I woke up to the smell of toast and eggs drifting through sun-dappled curtains, and I thought how lucky I am to be alive in a world with sun-dappled anything.” —Chuck

“It’s my nature to reward pushiness with inattention.” —Emerson

“Pigby enjoyed the warbling sounds that the nice-smelling thing that fed him made.” —Narrator

“Aunts Vivian and Lily returned to their old habits of eating pies and keeping secrets, respectively.” —Narrator

“My name is Ned. I live a simple life. I wake pies and make the dead. That was creepy. I make pies and wake the dead.”—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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