Back in January, I was invited to the press screening for new ITV1 show Pushing Daisies. My write-up was extremely enthusiastic as you’ll see if you read the blog entry Why Anna Is The Real Friel. However, I also expressed a reservation that I am now inclined to view as incredibly portentous. I said: "I must admit, I can’t help feeling that this show’s UK success may be curtailed by the channel that’s bought it. It just doesn’t feel like an ITV1 series (more BBC2, Channel 4 or E4). I really hope I’m wrong…"
As it turned out, I was right. Ratings for the quirky drama dropped from a solid debut of 5.7million viewers to 2.4million for Corpsicle, the last season one episode. And not even a massive 13 million lead-in from the final of Britain’s Got Talent, the most-watched TV programme of the year so far, could help it.
Once upon a time, we were fed a steady diet of reputable American imports on ITV: Happy Days, Mork & Mindy (utterly lame – but that’s the benefit of hindsight), Laverne And Shirley, CHiPs (dance Ponch, dance!), TJ Hooker (calling all lovers of bad TV!) Soap, The Incredible Hulk, The Man From Atlantis (it didn’t last long, but it had cult status – even back then), The A-Team…Somehow, somewhere along the line ITV lost their Uncle Sam Midas touch. Oh they can do shows about obese children and finding the next new British ‘star’ until the cows come home, but getting a US series to work primetime on ITV1? As arduous a task as enduring Fiona Phillips’ Chelsea love-ins.
In a way, ITV were arbiters of their own doom. They splashed out on Pushing Daisies, their first imported peaktime drama since 1996’s Millennium (Chris Carter’s follow-up to The X Files), only to drop the second episode. According to the broadcaster, it had to be skipped because they could only fit in eight of the nine shows before Euro 2008.
What they didn’t anticipate was the absolute fury of fans whose posts on forums up and down the country forced the furore into the media spotlight (the BBC could barely contain its glee in its news bulletins). ITV had to publicly acknowledge their action: "Episode two was the only show we could drop without spoiling the storyline," a spokesman reportedly said. A promise to show the missing link at a later date was also dutifully dispatched. However the damage was done. ITV’s casual disregard for viewers led some to vote with their remote controls and boycott the rest of the series. Others headed for torrent sites and/or swore that they’d wait for the (June 23) DVD release.
Get Pushing Daisies on DVD here
Re-commissioned for a second US season, Pushing Daisies stars Lee Pace, Anna Friel (Goal!, Rogue Trader, Brookside), Chi McBride, Kristen Chenoweth, Swoosie Kurtz, Ellen Greene and is narrated by ‘Carry On’ star Jim Dale. I can’t see ITV1 sticking with it – not in a primetime slot anyway. The Pushing Daisies fiasco has illustrated yet again that US imports are ITV’s bête noire.
Today I am mostly lovin’ – Come Dine With Me. I prefer the old format, but the new Channel 4 shows are simmering along nicely (did you see what I did there?) and Dave Lambert’s sarcastic contributions are hilarious!
Today I am mostly hatin’ – Am I the only person creeped-out by 10 Years Younger’s Nicky Hambleton-Jones?
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