Question: Before I begin what will seem like a tirade, I want to let you know that I have respected and enjoyed your column for many years. Unlike what I've heard from a lot of critics (including you), I have been extremely pleased with the new fall season. Chuck, Bionic Woman, Dirty Sexy Money, Moonlight and Gossip Girl I loved right off the bat. Cane, Private Practice and Reaper have improved and I now love them as well. Life had a mind-blowingly good pilot but wasn't as sharp in its second outing. And Journeyman had a clever and touching premiere, though it also struggled to keep up the momentum in subsequent episodes. But what I was really excited about was Pushing Daisies. It sounded smart and original and was, of course, a critics' darling. Wow. Um, original? I'm sorry to disagree. Maybe for television, but not for the entertainment business in general. It feels like a melding of Tim Burton's far-superior movies and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. The characters act like 5-year-olds, and that seems to be the story's target age group. This is not an adult fairy tale: It's the children's movie that even the kids say is boring. I'm sorry if I sound harsh, but I feel like a differing opinion should be heard. The fact that the dull and tear-your-hair-out-irritating Pushing Daisies is getting more viewers than my beloved Chuck (whose star, Zachary Levi, should definitely make some Sexiest TV Stars lists) literally makes me want to throw up. I'm usually not this adamant, but seeing so many positive comments bothers me. I've enjoyed other projects from the writers and directors of Daisies, and I'm totally happy with creativity and pushing the envelope (I love a lot of critically praised shows, like Friday Night Lights), but this show is the polarizing one, if you ask me. Just because there's never been anything like it on TV before doesn't mean it's good. Let's separate quality from so-called originality and look at this from a completely dispassionate point of view. It took one hour, four minutes, and 13 seconds to realize I would rather go deaf, dumb and blind than see another episode of the ever-so-lauded Pushing Daisies. And I cannot possibly be alone.
Answer: Of course you're not alone, and I appreciate these colorfully expressed opinions. (Sure beats reading comments from people who settle for just calling the show "dumb," although did you really have to call it dull? And for what it's worth, I'm loving Chuck and Zachary Levi, too.) But I would contend, even if Pushing Daisies weren't my cup of overly artificially sweetened tea, that something executed with this much style and inventive joy should be allowed to find its place on TV, and that its fans should be allowed to embrace it without having to withstand crushing attacks on their taste and intelligence. Shows this extreme are polarizing by their very existence, and that's probably not such a bad thing. But I would take issue with the notion that many of us who've embraced Daisies are doing so only because it's different. We love it because it's so freaking lovable, not because we think we should. (The first time I screened the pilot, before it was even picked up at the upfronts last May, I knew very little about it, and was blown away.) If you need a distinction, check out the general critical consensus on CBS' inept Viva Laughlin. Again, here's something that really goes against the grain and tries to do something outrageously risky. Normally, critics would do cartwheels over something this "different." (Confession: I kind of liked Cop Rock back in the day. It didn't work, but it was better than this.) Sadly, Viva is executed with such a total lack of conviction that even the musical sequences fall flat, when you might expect them to enhance the stubbornly dreary drama. When someone tries something new and fails, it's depressing. Love or hate Daisies, you can't accuse it of only going halfway.