When FOX’s Raising Hope was the first new show of the season given a full year order, I was skeptical. Three episodes had aired, and it was ok, but nothing special. Now, 10 episodes in, it has really grown on me. In fact, it may be my favorite new sitcom this year.
The true star of the show for me is Garret Dillahunt (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), who plays new grandfather Burt. In this week’s installment, “Burt Rocks,” Burt mourns his dream of becoming a rock star. He blames his son Jimmy (Lucas Neff), a baby at the time, for ruining that hope. Jimmy is hired for a couple of drawing jobs around town, and Burt gets jealous, feeling like Jimmy is achieving what he failed to do. It’s Burt’s little quirks, from his rocking back and forth, to his kisses on the lips, that make the character such a joy. It’s also a huge departure from Dillahunt’s last series role, as an emotionless killing machine.
I’m also enjoying the grocery store where Jimmy works. In the last few weeks, the store and the people that work there, including love interest Sabrina (Shannon Woodward) and boss Barney (Gregg Binkley), have become more prominent. It’s a fun, quirky place, and I love that it’s getting more play. Binkley is not currently a series regular, but I fervently hope that oversight is corrected no later than the start of season two. The series will surely get at least two seasons.
In last night’s episode, Jimmy arranged for Burt to play guitar with his hero, Smokey Floyd (Jason Lee). Lee previously starred in Greg Garcia’s last sitcom, My Name is Earl, and so it was a treat to see him again. What’s more, a confused Smokey called Barney by the name Ken. This is amusing, as Binkley played a major recurring role on Earl as a guy named Kenny. And like Kenny in Earl, Barney is one of a growing cast of supporting characters that have really fleshed out the world the show is set in.
I would be remiss if I don’t mentioned that fabulous performance Martha Plimpton is bringing to the table as Jimmy’s mom, Virginia. Her character is nuanced, layered, tough, sweet, and a whole lot of fun. It’s a role seemingly easily inhabited by the talented Plimpton, and the show would not be the same without her. Strangely, I find myself wishing for less Maw Maw. Though I’m a fan of Cloris Leachman from way back, her character is disgusting and not funny. Please ditch her.
Raising Hope airs Tuesday nights at 9pm on FOX. If you haven’t been watching, please tune in.