Overview: We didn't think we'd like it, but we really enjoyed the premiere episode and we're looking forward to seeing where it goes next.
Upon first look, FOX's "Raising Hope" may seem like just another offbeat comedy that focuses on a dysfunctional family. Some would call it "recession-era television" with its lower class setting. But after watching the premiere episode, you quickly learn this family (much like "Married With Children's" Bundys) would be this down and out regardless of what the economy is going through.
They're simple people with simple dreams and simple ways of doing things. In fact, when they do start to think of loftier goals, life has a way of slamming them back down to earth. We can relate, right?
In the premiere, Jimmy (played by the extremely likable Lucas Neff) has had it with his job cleaning someone else's pool. When he decides to map out a better life for himself, he dramatically meets a damsel in distress and has a one-night stand. The damsel isn't as helpless as she would have everyone believe, though. Without revealing major plot points, she's soon out of the picture and Lucas is left to take care of their baby.
In that situation lies the hilarity. His family thinks he should dump the baby over at the firehouse and everyone, including a mischievous checker at the local supermarket, is unsure he's capable of raising a baby. And the truth is, he isn't, but he's sure going to try. It'll take a village - whether the village wants to help or not.
"My Name Is Earl's" Emmy-winning producer Gregory Thomas Garcia is behind the show and it has many of the aspects that made "Earl" good. Aside from its well-casted lead, its quirky ensemble cast, including a seldom lucid "Maw Maw" played by Cloris Leachman and an unlikely matriarch in Martha Plimpton, show an odd family with very little "Big City" spirituality or "Oprah-isms," but they have their own way of showing humanity to one another.
The episode is written well and based in a dark humor that until you get it, you're unsure whether you're allowed to laugh. And there's one particular scene in which you really won't have the choice, but to laugh. Within the toilet humor, there are moments of sensitivity that remind us that many times adversity can be one's saving grace. And while raising a baby may not have been part of Jimmy's plan, it will be the thing that gives him (and his family) the structure they really craved.
"Raising Hope" premieres on Tuesday, Sept. 21 at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.