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Is There Any Hope for the New Sitcom 'Raising Hope'? (VIDEO)

by Oliver Miller, posted Sep 29th 2010 8:45AM
Is There Any Hope for the New Sitcom 'Raising Hope'?One of the problems with 'Raising Hope' is that the sitcom is burdened with a fairly dopey title. It's about a guy who learns that he has a baby girl named "Hope," who he then must "raise" -- leading to the dumb pun that is the name of the show. The other problem with the sitcom is ... well, lots of stuff.

The set-up is that Jimmy Chance (Lucas Neff) has sex with a woman who turns out to be a murderer. The young lady gives birth to Hope, and then the mom is -- killed in the electric chair. Next, Hope's life is constantly put at risk by the incompetence of Jimmy and his white trash relatives. So already we've got murder, execution, and child endangerment as a combo. Not necessarily a perfect template for a cutesy sitcom.

But all of this might be okay, if everything wasn't smothered under layers of self-conscious quirkiness. Let's use the latest episode (Tue., 9PM ET on Fox) as an example. Jimmy has a strong attraction to local supermarket check-out girl Sabrina (Shannon Woodward). But suddenly, he finds himself trapped in a quasi-relationship with Sabrina's semi-insane cousin Shelley (Kate Micucci). Or, he's "kidnapped" by her, to accept Sabrina's term for it.

Jimmy has no intention of dating Shelley. Still, he's willing to string her along. Why? Because Shelley's offering him free babysitting -- which is an improvement on Jimmy's previous plan of risking Hope's life by letting her ride around on top of a lawn mower. Jimmy is meant to come off as charmingly hapless and bumbling here. Instead, he sort of seems like a jerk and a bad parent. He's the type of guy who will toy with a girl that he doesn't like, and who is grossly incompetent -- even when judged by very lenient "sitcom dad" standards.

On the other hand, it could all be just a question of tone. The actors on 'Hope' are talented, and the show was created by Greg Garcia, who was behind the excellent 'My Name Is Earl.' With a little tweaking, this series could be as strong as 'Earl' -- but thus far, after two episodes, everything still seems a little off.

What do you guys think? Is there any "hope" for this series? Can the quality level be "raised"? (See what we did there, with those clever puns?)

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