Best Episode of the Season: Raising Hope Season 3

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Season Analysis: Raising Hope was not complacent in Season 3, but it never felt like it was pushing anything forward, which isn’t that big a deal because I don’t think it ever said that’s what it was trying to do.

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“Making the Band”
Reuniting the cast of one show on the creator of the old show’s new show sounds like a stunt, and in the case of reuniting the My Name is Earl cast on an episode of Raising Hope, it is a stunt, but this episode proves that that is not necessarily a bad thing.  Luckily, Jason Lee, Jaime Pressley, Ethan Suplee, and Eddie Steeles had already played guest characters on Hope, so their presence on another episode did not feel shoehorned in.  The idea that their characters (along with those of Nadine Valezquez and Tim Stack) would team up with the Chances to form a rock band that flirts with the brink of success does not make a whole lot of sense.  Honestly, though, the idea of anybody teaming up with the Chances to find success as a rock band doesn’t make sense, but who cares when the results are this fun?  Besides, when life most seems to be working out, that is when life seems to be making the least sense.  That is what “Making the Band” demonstrated.  Raising Hope is a positive show of its era, one of optimism despite (constant) hard times – that is to say, hope.

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Best Episode of the Season: Raising Hope Season 2

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Season Analysis: Raising Hope settled into a groove in Season 2 as it essentially further became My Name is Earl 2.0: the adventures of a quirky working-class (most likely Southwestern) town as created by Greg García, but without the burden of a premise that needs to be attended to every episode.

“Jimmy’s Fake Girlfriend”

One common complaint I encountered about Season 2 of Raising Hope was the lack of interest in Jimmy and Sabrina as (what was supposed to be) the show’s primary romantic coupling.  As the episode “Jimmy’s Fake Girlfriend” demonstrated, the problem was not that Jimmy and Sabrina made a boring couple, it was that they just did not have too many good scenes up until this point.  As the episode culminated in the performance of the story of Jimmy and Sabrina by the Room for Improvment Players (including Burt and Virginia and their hitherto latent but definitely potent improv skills), we, the audience, were won over just as much as Sabrina was.  This episode also provided a template for how to blamelessly prompt a breakup if you are a guy who has feelings for a girl who is with another guy, especially if that guy is a jerk.  The concept of this episode also set up scenes of acting for the sake of acting – a favorite routine of mine – as delivered by Ashley Tisdale, whose expertise in this area was no surprise, being as she is a veteran of the overacting-heavy Disney Channel.

Best Episode of the Season: Raising Hope Season 1

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“Pilot”

When Lucy got the electric chair, I became fully convinced that there was no way that the show that had kick-started its premise with a one-night stand with a serial killer that led to a baby could ever top itself, and I was right.  The mix of high stakes, bewilderment, and resourcefulness in the opening scenes of the pilot episode were so transcendent that the remaining episodes of the resoundingly low-key Raising Hope never had a chance to measure up.

Next up: The Big Bang Theory