Quick Take: Raising Hope, "Prodigy"
"He could have been an international superstar, like David Hasselhoff... or Hello Kitty." - Virginia Chance
Review: Raising Hope, "Prodigy"
(S0201) It was no surprise when Fox gave freshman comedy Raising Hope a first full season pick-up last year. The screwball comedy features a kooky family unit, a la Modern Family: Jimmy (Lucas Neff), the only child of Virginia (Martha Plimpton) and Burt Chance (Garret Dillahunt), had a one night stand with a serial killer, knocked her up, and then found himself in the unenviable position of single dad after the state executed his baby mama. And while the setup is a little morbid, the show is all heart. Baby Hope may be surrounded by a group of misfits, including the senile Maw Maw (Cloris Leachman), but they're lovable misfits, all of whom are crazy about Hope.
For those of you who didn't tune in last year, no biggie. Hope's day care sitter kindly recaps last season through a catchy little musical number. Once everyone is caught up we find out that Jimmy used to be a pretty amazing singer and pianist. Pop singer Greyson Chance makes for a rather convincing young Jimmy in flashbacks. Having watched her son fail at everything else, Virginia is overcome with pride once she witnesses Jimmy's transformation. Not wanting to let his talent go to waste, she enlists Maw Maw and her sock puppet assistant to help hone Jimmy's newly discovered gift. At the big recital, Jimmy is the star. Every preteen girl in the room has googly eyes for him. It's like they're witnessing the second coming of Justin Bieber. Yep, Jimmy was going to be a star, until a mini golf accident crushed his (and Virginia's) dreams.
Thanks to said accident, Jimmy had no idea he was a musical prodigy. It wasn't until watching old home movies with Hope that he learned the truth. He took the video to show his supermarket crush Sabrina (Shannon Woodward), who swooned just like the preteens at the recital. That's when Jimmy decided he needed to unlock his inner musician. With the rest of the family's help, Jimmy went to see a doctor who told him the best way to get his memories back would be to recreate the scenes from his childhood (not get knocked in the noggin with a coconut, as Burt suggested). With that Jimmy was squeezing into his boyhood tee shirts, practicing the piano with Maw Maw, and signing up for the another big recital. There was only one problem. Jimmy sucked, big time.
After a number of failed attempts, Jimmy decided to give up on his childhood and get drunk instead. Not ones to let their son drink alone, Bert and Virginia joined in and added all the things the Chances are good at. Jimmy can bag groceries really fast. Virginia can determine the time of day 98% of time without looking at a clock (plus or minus twenty minutes). And Burt, well he's good at drinking beer.
After they're all good and drunk, Bert breaks into song and Jimmy joins in. Wouldn't you know, Jimmy's now got the voice of an angel. He's rediscovered his talent! And all it took was eight beers! The next day is the recital and the family is pumped up. Jimmy takes to the family piano to do a little warming up, but he's terrible again. The family comes to the conclusion that Jimmy is only good when he's drunk. There's a funny little shout out to Family Guy and Happy Endings regarding alcohol's magical effects on uncovering latent talents. This was one of many laugh-out-loud moments during the premiere.
Later on at the recital Jimmy and Burt are bombed. Sabrina's come along to see the transformation, but leaves not long after Jimmy begins his song. She tells Virginia she's pretty sure Jimmy won't remember her being there, and she'd rather not remember being there too. Virginia turns to Burt, who seems to be enjoying the show and that's when it's revealed that the beer didn't make Jimmy talented again, it made all the drunk people think he was talented. Oh well.
Back at the house the family hears little Hope tickling the ivories and they embrace their new little prodigy. Jimmy's dreams may have been dashed, but as he says at the conclusion of the episode, the dreams you have for your child are what’s important.
This was a solid episode for the returning comedy, full of laughs and snappy dialogue. If you're a fan of Modern Family or The Middle, check out Raising Hope for another perspective on the modern, dysfunctional family.