Key Points:

The dearly departed have little chance of resting in peace while American telly drama's mania for fraternising with the deceased continues.

Joining shows such as Ghost Whisperer and Medium in lumbering about in the afterlife is Pushing Daisies (TV2, Mondays, 9.30pm), in which small-town guy Ned discovers he can bring the dead back to life with just one touch.

The show is the brainchild of Heroes creator Bryan Fuller, obviously an expert in super powers and their downsides.

The catch to Ned's special gift is that if the dead person stays resurrected for longer than a minute, someone else must die to restore the cosmic balance. And there's another disturbing side-effect: a second touch renders the revived one dead again, this time for ever. So when Ned revives his childhood sweetheart Chuck - mysteriously murdered on a cruise ship - he can't bear to send her back. The cruel twist is that he can never touch her again.

The relationship that can never be isn't the only driver in this "touching tale of romance, mystery and murder", as it's billed in publicity. Private investigator Emerson Cod has harnessed Ned's powers to enhance his business. Ned wakes up the murder victims, finds out whodunnit and restores them to their dead state with a second touch.

The first case to solve in last night's pilot: who killed Chuck? Pushing Daisies is certainly pushing hard. But although critics have hailed its originality, it seems more an amalgam of the dead-people genre and the American drama trend towards comic-book TV a la Ugly Betty. The highly stylised sets glow in bubblegum colours and are shot with a 1950s retro look which you suspect is as nostalgic as it is satiric.

Like Desperate Housewives, it labours under an overly narrated script dripping with those knowing, honeyed tones that make you fear that too much might leave you with a severe case of irony poisoning.

This is a show to love or hate, depending on your threshold for whimsy. Some might find the script, packed with quirks, cute and charming.

But I found it so contrived and convoluted, I started tuning out.

The dialogue, too, is spoken at high-speed and seems to pop out of characters' mouths like cartoon speech bubbles. Again, depending on your visual taste, you might find it dressed up like some gorgeous confection or all those supernatural colours and its taste for busy floral clothes and sets simply eye-watering.

But there's no denying the chemistry generated by leads Lee Pace and British actress Anna Friel as the sweethearts Ned and Chuck, although there's only so much mileage a show can get from thwarted romance.

The sleuthing side of the drama will have its work cut out to keep this ambitious corpse-tickler among the living.