The new comedy “Raising Hope” is a family show, Fox-style. Jimmy (Lucas Neff) still lives at home with his parents (Martha Plimpton and Garret Dillahunt) and grandma (Cloris Leachman). They’re kind of a trailer park type family, although they have a house, but Jimmy becomes a single dad so he needs their help and advice, good and bad.
Series creator Greg Garcia (“My Name Is Earl”) presented the show to fans at the Paley Center for Media’s PaleyFest: Fall TV Preview for Fox. On the red carpet, Garcia discussed his follow-up to “Earl.” He did mention specifics from the pilot and upcoming episodes so beware of spoilers.
SJ: Does “Raising Hope” get even crazier after the pilot?
GG: No, that’s about as crazy I think as it gets and then it settles into kind of just an offbeat quirky domestic sitcom hopefully. Yeah, I just kind of thought why not get them in a bizarre situation. I kind of thought to myself if I saw a family at the park and it was just a nice normal family with a baby, and then I saw another family like our family and I learned that the mother was a serial killer and she was executed and they got stuck with the baby, I would follow that family home to look in their windows and see what the heck’s going on more than the other family. So I don’t know, it all just seems interesting to me.
SJ: But you wouldn’t want to keep up the wild antics?
GG: We’ll have wild things. Yeah, we have some wild things from here to there. We’re not going to be killing people every week though. That’ll probably be the only murder we have for a while but we try to push the envelope and do what we can. You want to have a mix of doing that and being grounded and get people to feel something as well. Episode two we have Maw Maw breastfeeding. Cloris Leachman’s breast feeding the baby so we’re not backing off too much.
SJ: Is that medically accurate?
GG: I don’t know. I think powdered milk is coming out or something. I don’t know what exactly is going on but she’s attempting. She’s attempting to have that happen.
SJ: So those are the kinds of storylines we’re going to see.
GG: Well, that’s not a storyline I wouldn’t say. That’s a quick little gag. The storylines, I think there’s going to be a lot of conflict that comes up for our adults surrounding the baby. There’ll be some stories that have to actually do with raising a baby but also I think the baby will be a catalyst for stories. Lucas’s character will remember things that his parents did to him when he was a child because he now has a child, and that will cause some modern day conflict and we’ll have some more just adult stories as well. We’ve had a lot of fun exploring the different characters. We have Martha Plimpton and Garret Dillahunt. You’re not going to just do stories about a baby. You want to investigate their marriage and stuff that’s going on with them as well.
SJ: Is Fox a good environment for your sense of humor?
GG: Oh, it’s been great. I’ve got to say, the difference between working at NBC and Fox has been night and day. Just with the collaboration that they let you have with promotion and just the support that you get, it’s been fantastic.
SJ: Do you feel the audience understands what the show is and what they’re getting into?
GG: Yeah, I think so. I mean, I think some people don’t read the reviews necessarily and just see the billboards and promos, I think they’ll be surprised to see a woman gets executed in the pilot because I know they’re not leaning heavily on that in the promos and everything. But I think what’s fun about that is you know that this family has a baby but you have no idea how they get it just on promos and billboards alone. That’s a big added surprise that you’re going to see in the pilot.
SJ: It seems more open ended. Did you ever regret coming up with the list on “My Name is Earl” and giving yourself a structure like that?
GG: No, not at all. The list just proved to be an engine for stories. It was great. I thought that was a great device and this is open ended in the sense that you have a baby, you’re going to have to raise it. So that baby is going to age and as the baby ages, new stories come about. In the meantime, when the baby’s stuck in a period of time where not a lot of new things are going on, you’ve got a love relationship that you’re pursuing. You’ve got things going on in the house with just normal everyday family drama.
SJ: Will the baby age in real time?
GG: I don’t know. Knock on wood, we get a whole first season, we’ll probably keep it at this age for the first season. Then if we’re lucky enough to get a second season, we may consider jumping it in age to three or four years old and just say that time has passed. Therefore you can just do more stories with a kid that’s talking and going through different things.
SJ: That would be a big jump. I was thinking would you recast another infant and keep doing baby stories?
GG: Possibly. It all depends on where the stories come from. If we feel like we can do a ton and ton of stories with the baby as an infant, then yeah. But my experience with having infants around the house is eventually they get kind of boring. And then they get to be two and three years old and they start talking and walking and doing all kinds of fun things and more interesting things come about. So more than likely we would advance it more than we would just keep it at the same age.