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'Pushing Daisies' recap: CD mixes that matter

Season 2 | Episode 4 | “Frescorts” | Aired Oct 22, 2008

The last member of the Pie Hole team finally has a backstory, and it fits him like a glove. Does it surprise anyone to learn that Emerson Cod has been in the P.I. business since before he could walk? Emerson’s mother, private detective Calista Cod, used her baby boy to catch criminals like some people use dogs to meet cute singles in the area. When Emerson was old enough, Calista made him her partner, and the two of them vowed never to keep secrets from each other. That vow has been tested in Emerson’s adulthood, as he and his mother have somehow drifted so far apart that she doesn’t even know about her own granddaughter.

Emerson’s pop-up book, Li’l Gumshoe, written to call his missing daughter back to him, keeps getting rejected by publishers. When his mother shows up at the Pie Hole, Emerson thinks that the book might help him explain himself, but Calista is more interested in solving a murder. Veronica Villanueva wants Emerson to look into the death of her best friend, Joe. Calista accepts on her son’s behalf, unaware that a Dr. Eugene Halifax has already hired Emerson to catch whoever killed his best friend, Joe, who’s clearly the same man, but whose personality couldn’t appear more different.


Ned wakes Joe, who says he was in love with someone named Downy. He wonders if his murder could have anything to do with “my best friend,” but he doesn’t get to give any more details before his body starts spraying formaldehyde. Coroners don’t embalm, so the killer—or possibly a ninth-grade biology student—must be to blame. Under pressure from Emerson and his mother, Veronica and Eugene admit that Joe was a “frescort,” a friend escort who became whatever his clients needed of him. To learn more, the gang heads to Joe’s place of employment: My Best Friend, Inc. That’s exactly the kind of company that sounds like it would be full of secret murderers.

Emerson and Ned question the CEO, Buddy Amicus, who explains that he started the project after a high school football injury took him from hero to zero. Now he uses his “powers” as a former jock to help everyone find friendship, clearly unaware that he’s actually perpetuating the same social hierarchy. The man has a hug machine in his office, and he actually thinks it’s an acceptable substitute for a real hug—although to be fair, Ned does enjoy it. Someone give Ned a person-to-person hug, please. He’s been feeling so alone since Chuck moved out—not that he could hug her to begin with.


Ned bonds with Joe’s roommate, Randy Mann, over what it feels like to have a silent apartment where a person used to be. Emerson is less sympathetic, especially when Randy refuses to let him into Joe’s room, so Emerson picks the lock while Ned distracts Randy at the Pie Hole. Ned even bakes Randy a meat pie, despite the fact that he can’t eat it. (Ned would have to be vegetarian, wouldn’t he? Otherwise the meat would come alive in his mouth. For such a cute show, Pushing Daisies is terrifying.) Randy comes clean with Ned about his hobby—taxidermy—just as Emerson unlocks Joe’s room. It’s full of little stuffed creatures, but it’s also got an organ in a jar, and that jar is labeled “Joe.”

Emerson confronts Randy, who claims that he drove Joe to the hospital after his appendix burst. The appendix was a joke gift. It turns out that Randy was one of Joe’s clients, but he agreed to let Joe live with him for free. He looks to Ned, who understands what it’s like to be left out and picked on, but Ned is still creeped out by the sight of Randy’s old golden retriever, which is now stuffed, wearing sunglasses and playing a guitar. (“This is how you repay him?!”) Ned is all for holding on to childhood pets, but he likes it better when they’re living.

Meanwhile, Chuck and Olive have gone undercover at My Best Friend, Inc., where they’re learning how to fake emotions and make meaningful mix CDs. When cheerful employee Barb asks them for crossword help—but only the downs—they realize that she’s Downy, the woman Joe loved. Barb shoves the ladies into a locker and bolts, leaving Chuck and Olive stuck in a very small space to hash out their problems. Olive has been living with Chuck since she came back from the nunnery. It’s the perfect arrangement, since Olive doesn’t have any material possessions anymore, and Chuck doesn’t have anywhere else to keep hers. Still, it’s difficult for Olive to live with Chuck without knowing why she faked her death, and it’s difficult for Chuck to deal with the fact that Olive still has feelings for Ned. Chuck confesses that she’s tired of feeling so guilty just for being with her boyfriend.


Olive bolts as soon as Ned frees them, leaving Chuck to continue the investigation with Ned and Emerson. They find Barb dead in Buddy’s hug machine, and Barb tells them the story of how she fell in love with Joe, who never came back from his last frescort sports date. She says that she was killed by someone dressed as a Spartan, which also happens to be Buddy’s high school mascot. The gang assumes that Buddy might have been one of the jocks to terrorize Randy, but when Chuck trips in Buddy’s office, things get creepier. What appeared to be a mannequin wearing Buddy’s old football uniform turns out to be an actual dead body.

Ned accidentally touches the body back to life, and although he’s too old to speak, he gestures enough that they put together the pieces. He’s Ares Kostopolous, the former star quarterback at Buddy’s high school. Buddy was never a jock at all. He was a lonely kid who became a mascot to earn Ares’ attention. When he realized that Ares would never be his friend, Buddy killed him. The cycle repeated itself with Joe. Buddy assumed that owning a company meant instant access to friends, but when Joe tried to quit in order to be with Barb, Buddy realized that he was still just fooling himself. He killed Joe on their last sports date, and he killed Barb for taking Joe away from him.

With Buddy in custody, Ned shows up at Randy’s door to apologize. He has no right to judge someone else’s strange hobby, given that his is waking the dead. As much as Ned’s ability has made life difficult for him, it’s also given him everyone he loves. Ned is really in fine form right now. He might not like living alone, but he’s growing because of it, which is why he tells Chuck that she can’t move back in with him. She wants to abandon ship after her fight with Olive, but Ned knows that she needs to work on that friendship, just as he needs to work on accepting himself. Chuck apologizes to Olive over a shoofly pie, then celebrates by showing up at Ned’s wrapped in nothing but a duvet.


As for Emerson, his mother has actually been investigating him all along. One of his rejection letters was sent to Calista by mistake, and she assumes that Li’l Gumshoe is a scathing tell-all about her son’s childhood. When Emerson explains what it’s actually meant for, Calista suggests that he rewrite it to focus more on what a great father he could be. I’m not sure what exactly is keeping Emerson’s daughter away, but it’s worth a shot.

So: Will Emerson find his daughter? Were you glad to see Olive and Chuck address their issues? And how great are Digby and Pigby as roommates? I don’t think we’re too late to start a campaign for a dog-and-pig spin-off. Let’s make it happen.

Best lines:

Emerson: Well, technically I never lied, but I also never told her I have a daughter.
Ned: Most mothers would consider that splitting hairs.”

“Wish I hadn’t told you those capris made you look taller.” —Chuck

“The truth is that there are a lot of people like you—us—with strange hobbies or talents or gifts, and we try to hide it because we’re afraid that it makes us seem weird or it will turn people off, but that’s a mistake. What makes me unique has bought every person I love into my life.” —Ned

“Do I get an allowance?” —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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