Thursday, October 7, 2010
TBG TV: Raising Hope
When/Where: FOX -- Tuesdays at 9:00 PM
10-Word Premise: It really takes an especially f*cked up and dysfunctional village...
Starring: Lucas Neff as one of those the aimless 25-year-olds we all know who'd put his life on hold to raise a daughter from a one-night-stand. Martha Plimpton as the slacker's mother who -- like every mom and dad since the dawn of man -- lectures her son over his questionable life choices, even though she made similarly bad decisions (and in an age when pregnant women could drink (at the 8:30 mark) and smoke with impunity).
The Best Thang: Martha Plimpton is terrific as the family matriarch. In the pilot, she assumes the role of "reluctant grandmother" to her son's infant daughter with a brilliant, slightly-detached annoyance. Watching the ice melt away as she sang Hope to sleep at the end of the premiere episode was an overt reach for the heartstrings, but necessary to balance out the previous 22 minutes of snark, sarcasm and topless Cloris Leachman. The intentionally-expedited explanation behind Hope's conception -- from the frying pan to the head all the way through to the electric chair -- was wickedly dark and well-written.
The Worst Thang: I've only seen the premiere -- with the next two episodes resting undisturbed on my DVR -- but, I wonder how long Neff's "Jimmy Chance" character can keep the "ill-equipped dad" bit interesting. His makeshift car seats ("Even driving slow, that bean bag slid a LOT on the turns.") and diaper-changing challenges can become the kind of broad comedic crutch that belies the show's single camera, laugh-track absent approach. I was lukewarm to almost all of the secondary characters (Shannon Woodward's smarmy "Sabrina" fell especially flat) and the use of Cloris Leachman as the crazy old lady has become its own tired cliché.
The Verdict: Raising Hope could become an intelligent take on single fatherhood in a whacked-out world or a one-note joke full of poop and vomit comedy -- and the pilot didn't scrimp on the scatological humor. I'm optimistic that the show will find its footing, though. Hell, even I figured out fatherhood after a few months...and just one concussion.