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'Raising Hope' Premiere Review: Infantile Antics Waste Good Actors

by Maureen Ryan, posted Sep 21st 2010 10:02AM
'Raising Hope' (9PM ET Tuesday, Fox) is one of the more puzzling "comedies" in recent memory: Nothing about it is funny and it strands two outstanding actors in a vehicle that fails to harness their many talents.

'Raising Hope' is broad, shrill and aggressively wacky until the last couple minutes of the show's pilot, when the main characters are allowed to have a moment that is unlike everything that came before, in that it feels real and takes place on a human scale.

That's when the show lost me completely -- the tacked-on attempt to give the show some heart ("See, they're just crazy, mixed-up regular folks with good intentions!") was so disappointingly cynical and contrived. It was a transparent attempt to give depth to something that had so vociferously lacked it that I was convinced that the show's creator, Greg Garcia, was working out some anger issues by creating this cacophonous show.

The premise is a knee-slapper -- oh, no, wait, it isn't. Young Jimmy impregnates a criminal, and has to raise the baby she later gives birth to. He is clueless about raising babies, but in ways that make him seem brain-damaged, not in ways that are laughter-inducing. If you find child endangerment hilarious, this may just be the show for you.

Lucas Neff, who plays Jimmy, has the kind of sincere demeanor you'd find in a coming-of-age drama, which makes the rest of his family seem like they're in a different show. Cloris Leachman plays an extremely inappropriate grandma, and the show as a whole is full of almost-offensive stereotypes about lower-class people. Still, the broadness and the brashness wouldn't be a problem if any of what transpires was funny. It isn't.

The real crime here isn't that the show lacks the sweetness that Garcia's 'My Name Is Earl' had for a couple of seasons, before it devolved into a more crass and average show. No, the crime of 'Raising Hope' is that Garret Dillahunt and Martha Plimpton are wasted here as Jimmy's parents. They're among the most enjoyable dramatic actors working in TV today, and 'Raising Hope' doesn't begin to use the full array of their talents. With any luck, this show will be canceled soon and they can go back to doing what they do best -- on other shows.

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pinkster88

I actually enjoyed the show and I don’t think the actors are being misused. I saw a lot of MNIE in it but the show took on a personal persona and it make it unique. I can’t complain and I know I’m going to continue watching and now that I know a second season is in the making, I’ve already double checked to make sure my DVR was in tip top shape. Now I’ve found a new invention that’s made me appreciate my provider so much more! I work and subscribe to DISH Network and I use the DISH Remote Access app to watch live and pre-recorded shows and I don’t even have to be at home. The app works with my Sling Adapter so I can get the most value from my service. The adapter was $99 but with this special promotion, people can get it for free by going here http://goo.gl/Qsggz and now I’m always recommending that people check it out and experience a value unseen by any other provider!

*Danielle

May 31 2011 at 12:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Eduardo

"With any luck, this show will be canceled soon and they can go back to doing what they do best -- on other shows." ...you hope so Maureen! The show it's a great surprise and you should not take it so serious.

September 24 2010 at 7:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hak Foo

I had to come back to this post to reply after watching the episode. I find the critics distaste for this show, especially the TV squad writers, odd.

I found the show absolutely hilarious. The whole child endangerment argument doesn't hold water for me. I mean what about the the world endangerment or occasional child endangerment coming from Veronica on Better Off Ted? I still managed to laugh at those scenarios.

I will continue to watch.

September 23 2010 at 7:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
shadowracer

Feels like a good successor to My Name is Earl. Its a ballsy outrageous show, I thought it was pretty damn funny.

Dillahunt is the man. I wouldn't want him on the show just so he would have more time to work on other projects.

September 22 2010 at 12:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dan H

Couldn't disagree with Mo more on this one. I thought it was really funny last night. Felt similar to the early My Name is Earl episodes...I'll be tuning in again next week.

September 22 2010 at 8:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tone

Most of the critics I've read are going quite a bit easier on this show. But I'm with Mo here. Not interested in laughing at people vomiting on a baby or sniffing the mentally declining Maw Maw's bottom to see if that's where the smell may be coming from.

September 22 2010 at 7:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
erroneous_nick

Think about all the TV shows and movies the critics panned, but the public loved. I'm giving it a chance simply because the previews look good and the whole "child endangerment" argument is ridiculous. This is a comedy and nothing should be taken seriously, so I think Maureen was just being too serious when she watched the show with expectations that some of her favorite dramatic actors would be acting at some level of expectation she had before watching the show.

For an example of critics vs viewers, I read tons of good about Modern Family. Even had a few friends that watched it and said it was "okay". I gave that show 8 episodes to draw me in and I think I laughed twice in all that time. So what critics like/hate and what viewers like/hate is often opposites.

September 21 2010 at 11:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chrissthomas

Garrett Dilanhunt has become one of my favorite actors in the last few years because his range is incredible. I will give this show a chance simply because he is on it but am fearful that my appreciation of him may make me hate the show more if it is as bad as all the critics are making it seem.

September 21 2010 at 10:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Shawn

So...you're saying you didn't like it?

September 21 2010 at 10:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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