FOX's Raising Hope recently released its complete first season on DVD. It is a three-disc set containing all 22 episodes that aired last year. The series follows a lower middle class family as they raise a baby. This is refreshing, considering many television characters certainly live above realistic means for many of their viewers. It also focuses on the kooky friends and relatives that surround the primary clan, creating a rich, becoming vast, world of interesting characters. After one mere season, Raising Hope has become TV to watch.
The series begins when Jimmy Chance (Lucas Neff) unknowingly hooks up with a crazy murderer named Lucy (Bijou Phillips). Lucy is arrested and executed, but not before giving birth to Jimmy's daughter, Princess Beyonce, whom he renames Hope (Bayley and Rylie Crecut). Jimmy is in his early twenties, and lives with his parents Virginia (Martha Plimpton) and Burt (Garret Dillahunt), who had him when they were teenagers. Jimmy really wants to take care of the baby, and Burt and Virginia see a second chance to raise a child correctly; it thus becomes a team effort.
Adding to the chaos is Maw Maw (Cloris Leachman), Virginia's senile grandmother, in whose house they live. She is only lucid for short periods of time, but resents her family, worrying they are taking advantage of her. In fact, they take good care of her during her crazy periods.
To help pay for the child's care and feeding, Jimmy takes a job at the local supermarket after falling for cashier Sabrina (Shannon Woodward). They work for enthusiastic, geeky Barney (Gregg Binkley, a recurring character in season one, but promoted to series regular in season two). These two help Jimmy keep his own sanity, and provide some fun, outside-the-home stories. In addition, babysitter Shelley (Kate Micucci) keeps Hope when the Chance family are all working.
There are many great episodes in this freshman run. "Dead Tooth" introduces Sabrina's cousin, Shelley, and finds Burt helping Virginia to quit smoking. The latter is a necessity, since smoking is now strictly limited in primetime broadcast network television. In "Dream Hoarders," Hope crawls into the maze of a junk-filled shed. "Burt Rocks" lets Burt meet his singer idol, Smokey (Jason Lee). In "What's Up, Cuz?" Virginia's gold digging cousin, Delilah (Amy Sedaris), who has a crush on Burt, visits. And the season finale takes a look at how different life was for all of the characters, main and supporting, only five short years ago.