Jimmy and Sabrina are flipping through family photos of the Chance’s family vacations when Sabrina starts to notice things, and Jimmy announces that he’s getting a funny feeling in the pit of his stomach. Anyone who’s seen a few episodes of this show will get that feeling before he does. Yes, with help from his intelligent, beautiful, emotionally supportive buzz kill of a wife, Jimmy has stumbled upon yet another lie that his parents, who were so brilliant at implanting false memories that it’s a wonder they never figured in an X-Files storyline, embedded deep in his consciousness when he was younger, trusting, and vulnerable. It seems that on the one vacation they did take Jimmy on, he got so messed up on sleeping medication that he napped through the entire experience. (“Had to choose between a puker and a sleeper” on car trips, Burt explains. “We choose ‘sleeper.’”) But when Jimmy woke up, he’d dreamed that he’d had such a wonderful time that Burt and Virginia just kept doping him up at regular intervals and then showing him the photos they’d taken of their latest road trip, pictures they took with an unconscious Jimmy and whatever backdrops they’d retrieved from the dumpster behind the photo studio. “Drink up,” Virigina tells li’l Jimmy in a flashback. “It’s a long drive till Hawaii.”
This is not how Sabrina intends to raise Hope, so she arranges a boat trip for the entire family. (Burt and Virginia are excited, because they’ve never had sex on a boat, and as Burt says, “We’ve got this whole transportation-sex checklist we’ve been plowing through.” “Oooh!” says Virginia. “A plow!”) But it turns out that Virginia misread the ad, and rather than tool around a marina in a boat, she’s agreed to hook it to her car and drive it to… well, suffice to say that, in terms of sheer wackiness of misunderstandings, the plot makes a sudden turn into Paul Henning territory. The best thing about it is the heavyset dude wearing an earring, a shark’s-tooth necklace, and a print shirt with whom Sabrina has unwittingly made these arrangements. “I thought we were gonna take it out on the water,” says Jimmy. “And I thought Jimmy Buffet was a good role,” he counters. Why can’t this guy be a recurring character? Something tells me he has way better stories than Dancing Dan.
In what feels like a desperate act intended to keep the episode going for the length without actually having the Chances drive around for the rest of the half hour, somebody steals the car during a rest room stop. Sabrina tears off on a handy motorcycle to reclaim the car, while Jimmy, Maw Maw, and the reanimated corpse of Bernie Kopell take part in a sequence involving Jimmy’s misinterpretation of the phrase “stuffed animal museum” that isn’t a patch on the joke about a Barbie Museum in the movie Rat Race. More confusion and misunderstandings occur, and in the end, Sabrina learns a valuable lesson, or at any rate, a lesson. But I’m surprised that she isn’t more concerned about the fact that, by the time the credits roll, her car is still in the wind.
Raising Hope rips the lid off the health care crisis! In a classic piece of misdirection, the episode opens with Virginia complaining about how she now has to film herself while she’s cleaning people’s houses, which is just one of “a ton of new corporate policies” they’re laying down at work. While I was still trying to anticipate how this was going to lead to Burt and Virginia making homemade porn films in swanky houses for sale on the Internet, Sabrina notices that the new corporate policies include health insurance for Virginia and her spouse. Burt openly mocks the idea that anyone who’s still in the pink would time going to the doctor, but that night, the hypochondria sets in, and Burt and Virginia hustle to get check-ups, so they won’t die from unanticipated complications involving her “toe freckle” and “after-breakfast eye twitch,” or the fact that his urine comes out in two streams at once. They have to contend with that blight of modern life, a funny doctor. But as Virginia assures Burt after leaving the examination room, “He’s a lot more funny when you find out you’re not dying.”
The theme of what is and isn’t hilarious is continued in the B-plot, or maybe it’s the A-plot, since I’m not sure which is supposed to take precedence. (For the record, the title refers to the fact that Virginia needs glasses. Once she has them, she’s so grossed out by the condition of her house that she can’t have sex with Burt. Had you ever wondered if Virginia’s tolerance of run-down squalor might be a symptom of some bigger problem? Me neither!) Jimmy and Sabrina get into a social-media war over whose postings are funnier—Sabrina’s creative photographs of egg-centric breakfast plates (“I call this one Yolk-o Ono. See how the egg breaks up the hash browns?”) or Jimmy’s videos of Maw Maw demented ravings. (“So I told Rosa Parks I couldn’t move over because I had so many shopping bags!”) They end up fighting over the rights to Maw Maw, because as Frank sagely puts it, “Unless you are one, old people are funny!”
Both episodes suffer a little from its confidence that butt and poopy jokes are always funny, and that, in an episode that has Burt going in for a colonoscopy, there can not be too many clever plays on the term “back door.” Truth be told, I had a lower grade in mind for the whole hour, until Garret Dillahunt, coming out of anesthesia, got off a Deadwood in-joke that made me choke on my Cherry Garcia. Deadwood in-jokes: Some things are only to be encouraged here at TV Club.