You’ve seen the commercials. You’ve heard the hype. Now there’s only one thing you want to know: Which of the new fall shows are worth watching and which should be avoided at all costs? In this continuing series, we give you the scoop on some of the most highly-anticipated shows of the season, with today’s focus being RAISING HOPE. Also known as FOX’s latest attempt to launch a hit comedy that isn’t animated.
The Boilerplate: Since these pilot presentations may go through numerous rewrites and casting changes prior to premiere, this by no means should be considered an official review. Rather a preview of what one can expect come Fall.
The Elevator Pitch: One family and a baby.
The Plot: From Emmy Award winner Greg Garcia (MY NAME IS EARLY) comes RAISING HOPE, a single-camera comedy that follows the Chance family as they find themselves adding an unexpected new member into their household. At 23 years old, Jimmy Chance (Lucas Neff, THE BEAST) is going nowhere in life. He skims pools for a living, parties every night and still lives at home with his family, including his Maw Maw (Academy Award and Emmy Award winner Cloris Leachman); his mother, Virginia (Martha Plimpton, HOW TO MAKE IT IN AMERICA); his father, Burt (Garret Dillahunt, TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES); and his cousin, Mike (Skyler Stone, DOLLHOUSE). Jimmy’s life takes a drastic turn when a chance romantic encounter with Lucy (guest star Bijou Phillips, ALMOST FAMOUS) goes awry once he discovers she is a wanted felon. Months later, when Jimmy pays a visit to the local prison, he discovers Lucy gave birth to their baby, who he is now charged with raising.
The Snap Judgement: Was not good…. Until that is we gave FOX’s half-hour laugher a second chance to make a first impression and realized there’s actually a helluva lot of funny going on in Greg Garcia’s follow up to MY NAME IS EARL. Turns out, with its endless barrage of clever jokes (Burt’s response to wife Virginia upon learning he’s a grandfather, “I told you getting pregnant at 15 would pay off eventually.”), sight gags (Cousin Mike gets a tattoo on his finger that looks like a moustache), and really poor parenting advice, this bizarro version of Three Men and a Baby meets GILMORE GIRLS (Plimpton and Dillahunt play parents of a 23-year old!) simply needed a second viewing to catch everything that was going on. Including a stellar group of comedic vets in Plimpton and Leachmen, a doe-eyed newcomer in Lucas Neff (Who gives off an adorably sweet and slightly less neurotic Zach Braff kinda vibe) and best of all a role for TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES alum Garrett Dillahunt that for once doesn’t have him scaring the bejesus out of us!
The Verdict: Once you wrap your head around the fact that underneath all the craziness is a genuinely loving family, we’re fairly confident that you too will be rooting for the show to last long enough to actually raise Hope.