Stay Tuned
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

"Raising Hope" Review: Standing By My Words

There’s no doubt that being a TV critic can be a very subjective business…

Two weeks ago in my column in the “Herald-Dispatch,” I named “Raising Hope” the worst new show of the fall. Then, Matt Roush of “TV Guide” called it “rollicking” and “the fall’s boldest and wackiest new comedy.” Ken Tucker of “Entertainment Weekly” named it one of the five best new shows.

Maybe I watched the wrong show…

I admit I am not a big fan of crude comedy, but I can laugh at “Family Guy” as much as the next guy. I just don’t find “Hope” funny. And I stand behind everything I said in my column.

Here it is again if you missed it…

Every year there is a new fall television show that makes you wonder what in the world the network was thinking putting it on the air.

And even though I haven't seen every new show yet, I'm pretty sure I've already seen this year's worst.

It's called "Raising Hope," and it's one of two new sitcoms debuting this fall on FOX. It comes from the mind of Greg Garcia, who created "My Name is Earl," so it's not completely surprising to see a white trash element to the show. But where "Earl" could be endearing, "Hope" is just plain offensive.

Jimmy (Lucas Neff) is a 23-year-old who seems to be going nowhere until a one-night-stand with Lucy (Bijou Phillips) makes him feel a little better about himself. That is, until he discovers that Lucy is wanted for murder. Cut to Jimmy visiting Lucy in prison and discovering she's pregnant with his baby. Lucy is awaiting execution by electric chair but she's confident that no one will execute a woman with a baby. The very next scene shows Jimmy in the viewing area watching Lucy be electrocuted with the baby on his lap.
That sets up the premise of the show, which is Jimmy and his parents—who didn't really do all that good of a job with Jimmy—trying to raise the baby, which Jimmy's mom names Hope.

If the pilot had just focused on the idea of Jimmy raising the baby and Jimmy's mother (Martha Plimpton) realizing she can redeem herself for the mistakes she made with him, it might have been okay. But the set-up is such a turn-off, you don't really care once it gets to that point.

And then there's the grandmother character. Some senior citizens organization should sue for the offensive characterization of an elderly woman the show presents. I have no idea why Cloris Leachman would be remotely interested in a role like this, let alone take it. Seeing a legend like her sitting around in her underwear just makes you want to cry.

Even worse than FOX putting "Hope" on the air at all is that they're putting it on after "Glee," a show that appeals to young people. And there is nothing about "Hope" that any young person should be watching. I feel a little guilty for watching it myself.

My hope is that clearer heads will prevail and the show won't be around long, especially since it's the lead-in for the new Will Arnett-Keri Russell comedy, “Running Wilde,” which is actually worth watching.

“Raising Hope” premieres Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 9 p.m. on FOX…

Photo Credit: Matthias Clamer/FOX