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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Raising Hope is first new show to get a full season

    FOX's new sitcom Raising Hope gets the honor of being the first new primetime broadcast network show picked up for a full season this year.  Raising Hope is far from the best new show, though, so I'm not sure how it's earned that position.  Sure, sitcoms are cheaper to make than hour-long dramas, and so are more likely to make more episodes.  But Raising Hope is not even the best new sitcom.  I don't hate the show.  I was amused by many parts of the first three episodes.  I'm just sad that other shows have not been given a similar order.

     The show is from creator Greg Garcia (My Name is Earl), and although it is set in a trailer park, the family is what traditionally may be considered white trash to an outsider.  There is no character that is as foul mouthed as Joyce, but the family's economic standing, living conditions, diet, television interests, etc. lead me to that conclusion.  However, in the absence of alcoholism, bigotry, homophobia, or racism, trash probably isn't the right word either.  They are good people who really struggle, and just live a little below the average household.

     Raising Hope is about twenty-three year old Jimmy Chance (Lucas Neff), who has a one-night stand, only to discover in the morning that she's a serial killer.  Before she can off him, she is arrested and sent to jail.  However, Jimmy learns that she is pregnant with his child, and six months after she gives birth, she is executed.  Now Jimmy, who still leaves with his parents and works for his dad's lawn-care company, though company is probably too strong a word, is faced with being a single parent.  Luckily, his own parents, who had him as teenagers, agree to help him out.

     As mentioned, father Burt (Garret Dillahunt, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) mows lawns and cleans pools.  He's quite dumb.  When he is told to think, all he can think of is the word 'think'.  But he seems to have a warm heart.  I think the novelty of seeing someone who so recently a literal killing machine play a simple father is part of the fun.  Mother Virginia (Martha Plimpton, The Goonies) is a house cleaner.  The two have great chemistry, and although they act tough, it's just an act.  They will do anything they can to help out Jimmy and his infant daughter, Hope.

     Living with the Chances (or rather, who they live with, since Burt and Virginia do not own the house) is Virginia's grandmother, known as Maw Maw (the legendary Cloris Leachman).  Maw Maw is in the deep stages of dementia, but usually has one lucid moment per episode.  So far, the character is crass and not very likeable.  But in last night's story, the family discovered that Maw Maw was an expert at Jenga while listening to "Istanbul".  This came in handy when Baby Hope was trapped in her grandmother's greenhouse full of hoarded junk and she needed to be safely dug out.  Though she did help them while dancing around in just a bra and skin-tight pants, hair in curlers.

     Also in the cast is Shannon Woodward (The Riches) as Sabrina, a checkout girl who is Jimmy's love interest.  Sadly, Sabrina has a long-term boyfriend, but as this is television, and there is a formula, that is sure to change soon.

     It's a family comedy, but from a side of Americana not often seen on primetime television.  If you'd like to check out Raising Hope, it airs Wednesday nights at 9pm on FOX.

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1 comment:

  1. I loved My name is Earl at the start, but then once the novelty wore off it became quite formulaic. I expect this will do so too. I wonder why they gave it a whole year to run?


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