The breakouts

"THERE'S NO reason this show should work -- it's weird. It's a weird, odd show." So says Lee Pace, its star. Pace plays Ned, an adorable pie maker who brings dead things back to life at a single touch, a premise that, he says, "should fail miserably." Instead, it's a confection as sweet as those he bakes at his cafe. In a Technicolor wonderland of stylized sets and eye-popping costumes, Ned and his cohort Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) solve murders by asking the victims who killed them. Ned's touch of life lasts for one minute; a second touch renders the deceased dead again. If there is no second touch within a minute, someone else nearby dies.

Repercussions abound when he reanimates his childhood sweetheart, Chuck (Anna Friel), and doesn't touch her again, thus keeping her alive -- and forever from his embrace. Romance doesn't get more obstructed than that.

"I love adult fairy tales," says creator Bryan Fuller. "I love those kind of Sonnenfeldian and Burtonesque features that we've seen with 'Men in Black' and 'Edward Scissorhands,' and they do have a fairy tale quality." Indeed, Barry Sonnenfeld is one of the show's executive producers.

Only nine episodes aired before the strike, but the hiatus proved helpful.

"We've all had a chance to see what worked and what didn't," Pace says. Fuller notes that more time will be given to serialized stories, balancing out the murders. "The second season's a journey about Ned becoming a man." And Chuck will learn to live for herself instead of through the people she loves.

-- L.R.

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