Stranded in limbo by the writers' strike for almost 10 months, Pushing Daisies was beginning to feel like a beautiful, distant dream, something that couldn't live up to its memory no matter how many Emmy nominations it got (12, for the record).

Stranded in limbo by the writers' strike for almost 10 months, Pushing Daisies was beginning to feel like a beautiful, distant dream, something that couldn't live up to its memory no matter how many Emmy nominations it got (12, for the record).

In the second season, the many ways in which the show could go very wrong appear a little clearer, but Daisies still holds close the magical quality so appropriate for its fanciful premise of resurrecting life under strict rules, and a fairy-tale romance that can't be consummated with even a single touch.

The preciousness that might ultimately doom the series is held at bay by writing that's just as sharp, production design that's still deliciously colorful and a cast that's even more dead-on, so to speak, having fully embodied their characters.

Ned (Lee Pace), the pie maker who holds the power of life and death in his hands, and his formerly deceased childhood crush Chuck (Anna Friel), continue their sparkling chemistry with the added plot development of her growing independence.

"Pushing Daisies"

9pm Wednesdays, ABC

GRADE: A-

Kristin Chenoweth's Olive, now sequestered in a nunnery for knowing too much, has mastered the balance of cutesy and smirking, and the season premiere seems to promise more screen time for Chuck's eccentric, equally wonderful aunts, Swoosie Kurtz and Ellen Greene.

--Melissa Starker