On the plus side: Martha Plimpton. If you’re into babies, this show has a cute one. And the star of Raising Hope, Lucas Neff, has plenty of blank-faced boyish charisma — he’s a little like Michael Cera but with sex appeal, or maybe a young Buster Keaton, or well, that goes too far. But he’s good. On the minus side, two people do vomit on that baby.
Raising Hope (debuting tonight at 9 p.m. on Fox) was created by Greg Garcia, who made My Name Is Earl (there’s a sly reference to it in the pilot), and the show has a lot in common with that underrated white-trash sitcom, including slapstick parenting and a high-concept premise. The setup involves a one-night stand between a slacker and a murderess — when she’s imprisoned and executed, he gets the baby. For not entirely unconvincing personal-growth reasons, he decides to raise it with his dysfunctional folks: Virginia (Plimpton) and Burt Chance (Garret Dillahunt). A sitcom Teen Mom, basically, with the tragedy removed. I mean, other than the execution.
I’m not sure exactly what kind of sick kudos I should give a sitcom that includes a scene of a baby witnessing its own mother’s electrocution, but hey, when it works, it works. The pilot has brass and confidence, mixed with moments of baby-flavored sweetness, and in a fall season with a really spotty set of new network comedies, it’s hard not to see this one as the bright spot.