Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pilot Review: Raising Hope

Raising Hope (FOX)
Premiered September 21 at 9pm

If nothing else, this is the most appalling new show of the season. The events that occur in the first episode – which include a baby watching an execution and being forcibly thrown from the backseat to the floor of a car – are simply mind-blowing and unfathomable. The show as it stands is a completely crazy exercise in getting away with as much as humanly possible, going for broke in every possible arena. The characters are absolutely ridiculous, and the attempts to drive home a bit of drama at the end of the episode come way too long after the show has officially gone nuts (roughly ten minutes in). It’s definitely more bizarrely entertaining than some of FOX’s worst misses, like “Free Ride,” but it’s not actually a better show. The presence of talented actors like Martha Plimpton and Garrett Dillahunt shouldn’t be mistaken as reasons to watch the show, and Cloris Leachman in particular should be scolded for playing a frequently unclothed great-grandmother in what has to be the low point of her career. It took me a while to recognize poor Shannon Woodward, who was so excellent as duplicitous daughter Di Di on FX’s short-lived “The Riches,” as a supermarket employee so bored in her job that she resorts to drawing on watermelons for entertainment. I might go so far as to compare her dead-end job to having a starring role in this show. There may be funny moments, but as a whole, it’s so repulsive and off-putting that it’s simply not too bearable. It would be hard to imagine watching this show on a weekly basis, and while I would like to continue with it from a critic’s perspective to see how it shapes up, I’m not sure I’ll be able to stand more than a couple more minutes of it.

How will it work as a series? The painful ending of episode one sets it up so that the family is raising both a child name Hope and going forward with a renewed sense of hope. I do imagine, however, that the show will continue to be just as depraved as hapless new father Jimmy tries to figure out how not to screw up his baby like his parents did to him. Star Martha Plimpton purported in an interview that the “possibilities are endless,” but that just means they’ll continue to get even more and more ridiculous.
How long will it last? It’s hard to imagine this show developing a devoted following, though creator Greg Garcia did gain an audience for four seasons for his previous show, “My Name is Earl,” which I despised but not nearly as much as this show. It doesn’t strike me as a show that will complete its first season, but I’m clearly not part of the desired audience, so perhaps it will go ahead and amaze me by continuing to exist.

Pilot review: F-

1 comment:

Greg Boyd said...

Wow. I thought this show was really good. It was incredibly funny in places. Yes, it pushed the envelope, but it did in an extremely entertaining manner. The humor involving the baby was extremely disturbing, but that's what made it so funny. Martha Plimpton was great, as was the rest of the cast (apart from Cloris Leachman, who was kind of wasted). And the final few moments were extremely sweet.

Note: I've gotten a few glimpses of "My Name is Earl", and it looked awful. But I thoroughly enjoyed this show.