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DVD Review

DVD cover

Raising Hope
The Complete First Season


Starring: Lucas Neff, Martha Plimpton, Garret Dillahunt, Shannon Marie Woodward, Gregg Binkley and Cloris Leachman
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
RRP: £27.99
Certificate: 12
Available 05 March 2012

Raising Hope follows the lives of the Chance family; in particular Jimmy Chance (Lucas Neff) whose life takes a drastic turn when he finds out that Lucy, his too-good-to-be-true one-night stand, is wanted for murder. Months later, when Jimmy pays a visit to the local prison, he discovers that Lucy is pregnant with their baby. After the baby is born, Lucy is put to death and Jimmy is charged with raising his new daughter. Jimmy is instantly thrown into the world of single parenthood where he looks to his unenthused and inexperienced family and friends for support to help raise his new found daughter... whom he’s decided to call Hope...

His dysfunctional extended family includes plain speaking mother Virginia (Martha Plimpton, The Goonies), naïve father Burt (Garret Dillahunt, The 4400, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), eccentric and rarely lucid great grandmother Maw Maw (Cloris Leachman, Malcolm in the Middle), and crush Sabrina (Shannon Woodward, The Riches), a dryly funny, cynical check-out girl who Jimmy can’t quite muster up the courage to ask out. Despite being a young man with limited luck in life and absolutely no parenting experience, Jimmy is adamant to do his best for his daughter. Only time will tell if Jimmy and the Chances beat the odds and succeed in raising Hope...

The show is the brainchild of Greg Garcia, who was also behind the popular My Name is Earl. I don't think it's unfair to compare Raising Hope to My Name is Earl - there are a lot of similarities, so if you liked My Name is Earl then you'll equally enjoy this. In fact, the majority of the cast from My Name is Earl make cameos in this first season. Jason Lee plays an aging rock star; Ethan Suplee and Jaime Pressly play a married couple with issues; Eddie Steeples appears in one episode as Tyler the gas man / arcade manager / pizza man; and Gregg Binkley plays the supermarket manager in a number of episodes.

Highlights include:

Family Secrets: A number of family secrets come out of the closet. The most important being that Virginia's mother isn't dead (Maw Maw had always told her that she had been killed by a duck) and Jimmy isn't really allergic to fruit.

Happy Halloween: Jimmy has always hated Halloween. Since he was a little boy a mysterious neighbour would always dress up and scare young Jimmy - something that he's still frightened off to this day. But Jimmy is about to make a discovery about this "stranger".

Blue Dots: When Jimmy discovers that Hope is the last child in her daycare group (the others being dogs) he decides to get her into an upmarket group. However, Burt has a criminal record as a sex offender (when he was 17 he was caught having sex in a car with Virginia who was just 15 at the time). There's no way that Jimmy will be able to get Hope into an upmarket daycare with Burt's record... unless Burt gets the records scrubbed by going to all the neighbours and making them aware that they live in a street with a sex offender.

Snip Snip: After Virginia nearly gets pregnant, she makes Burt get a vasectomy. While at the clinic getting the all clear, Virginia bumps into Sabrina, who has also had a similar scare. Virginia is no good at keeping secrets and the two hatch a plan to stop her blabbing to Jimmy and Burt.

Everybody Flirts... Sometimes: Jimmy catches Burt flirting with a client. Burt tries to explain how this is an important part of the business. Virginia also tries flirting, but while at first things seem to go well, they backfire when she attracts creepy, unwanted male attention.

Baby Monitor: Burt picks up the neighbours arguing on their baby monitor. Andrew (Ethan Suplee) is constantly shouted at and belittled by his wife Donna (Jaime Pressly) and their lives soon become like a soap opera for Burt and Virginia.

Don't Vote For this Episode: Is a flashback episode that takes place five years previously - on the day that the Chances realised that Maw Maw was in the process of losing her marbles. Back then Jimmy was going through a teenage phase and Burt and Virginia were living in their bus.

Extras include Pilot Commentary; Unaired Network Pilot (21 min, 27 sec which differs slightly from the finished pilot. The main difference being that Shelly (Kate Micucci) is not Sabrina's cousin, here she's Jimmy's cousin and lives with the Chances. Also a different actress plays Sabrina); Adorable Stars: Meet the Hopes (6 min, 10 sec behind the scenes look at the twins that play Hope in the show); Moments with Mrs. Chance (4 min, 21 sec collection of clips from the show of Virginia Chance moments); Taking Chances: Shooting the Season Finale (11 min, 02 sec behind the scenes featurette); Gag Reel (5 min, 28 sec); Deleted and Extended Scenes (18 min, 53 sec) and Don't Vote For this Episode - Extended Version (which sees a longer cut of the episode - 24 min, 59 sec rather than the 21 min, 57 sec broadcast version).

This is a great comedy series which really only works because Martha Plimpton and Garret Dillahunt do such a great job of making you fall in love with their wacky, but loveable characters. It's also great to see multi-award winning (including Academy Award winner) Cloris Leachman as Maw Maw.


Darren Rea

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