The Bottom Line
- Amusingly odd characters
- A dark sense of humor
- Potential for exploring a fun world
- Tries too hard to be quirky
- Overdoes the sentiment
- Jokes miss as often as hit
- Premiere airs September 21, 2010, at 9 p.m. EST on Fox
- Stars Lucas Neff, Garret Dillahunt, Martha Plimpton, Shannon Woodward
- Created by Greg Garcia
Guide Review - 'Raising Hope' Premiere Episode
Despite their foul mouths and loose morals, the characters on Raising Hope are fundamentally good-hearted, just like the ones on Earl were. Part of what made Earl so entertaining before it lost its way in its later seasons were the possibilities of the show’s structure, with a different sin for Earl to atone for in each episode. Raising Hope doesn’t have that, and so even in the first episode it meanders a bit without enough of a focus, and ends up resorting to the sort of blatant sentimentality that took over Earl as it headed downhill. Garcia clearly wants to have it both ways, to include a comedic bit about witnessing a woman get the electric chair but also tie each episode up with a warm lesson on parenting. Those two tones don’t really fit together, and their tension is part of what dragged Earl down. It’s not hard to see that happening here, too.
Then again, it’s also not hard to see Raising Hope developing into an amusing world to drop into every week, thanks in large part to the cast that includes Garret Dillahunt and Martha Plimpton as Jimmy’s parents and Cloris Leachman in a recurring role as his addled great-grandmother. The colorful characters, well-played by regulars and guest stars alike, were Earl’s biggest strength, and Garcia has a deep well to draw from (frequent Earl guest star Gregg Binkley shows up in the pilot, which also includes an amusing in-joke about the truncated end of Garcia’s old show). The first episode of Raising Hope is more disappointment than triumph, but Garcia is worth giving the benefit of the doubt for at least a few more episodes.