Tonight, Fox aired the latest episode of Raising Hope back-to-back with a rerun of "Jimmy's Fake Girlfriend," one of my favorite episodes of the current season. Maybe they thought they owed anyone who made it through the first episode a treat. I tried to get in sync with "Hogging All The Glory"; really I did. The best I could do was to try to convince myself that it was intended as a salute to Paul Henning, a concept that isn't totally out of the question, given the season premiere's memorial tip of the hat to Sherwood Schwartz. The comedy was very broad, the story developments were borderline lysergic, and a pig was prominently featured. By the time Burt delivered the summing-up line, "I'm starting to think that our plan to impersonate a guide pig to fool a blind man and a church congregation was slightly flawed," I was thinking that I might almost be watching Adult Swim, except that it was still mostly light out, and I had received no advance instructions, which are implicit where Adult Swim is concerned, that the viewing experience would work best if I got a little baked first.
The blind man the Chances are trying to fool is a church organist played by David Krumholtz, looking unexpectedly Tony Cliftonesque and giving the hammiest performance I've ever seen by a comical blind man. (It always pays to underplay when you're doing things like trying to point an extended middle finger in someone's direction and missing your target.) At least I can say that he committed to the character like a son of a bitch, which is partial compensation for the fact that, until he'd been in enough scenes to make me squint and see if I could recognize him, I thought he might be the producer's brother-in-law or something, enjoying his birthday present of a role in a network sitcom. For that matter, Garret Dillahunt fully commits to the early scene in which we learn that the Chances, having let their subscription to the newspaper lapse, now celebrate Sundays by scripting and acting out the funnies. Dillahunt, having slipped into a yellow shirt with a jagged black stripe across it to play Charlie Brown, executes a high-flying kick while failing to connect with that damn football and comes down to Earth in a way that made me want to see his X-rays. People were committing left and right to things that they maybe they should have seen as an excuse to have a long talk with their agents.
Burt and Virginia have nothing against Krumholtz; The real target of their displeasure is the smiling head of the church charitable organization Heaven's Helpers, played by Vivica A. Fox, in a performance that's like a nationally broadcast audition tape aimed at making her a late addition to the cast of GCB. ("I don't do it for the glory," she says of her ever-expanding list of good works. "I do it for the Lordy.") Virginia is so sick of this condescending, smiling ego tripper that she wants Burt to run against her in the upcoming election. Sabrina is eager to serve as his campaign manager, "but only if you'll let me go negative, because I don't think you can win on your accomplishments."
To bone up on their practice at doing good works, the Chances agree to mind the seeing-eye pig that Fox is planning to present to Krumholtz at the next meeting. For some reason, the montage of pig gags struck somebody as a great excuse to play Jerry Reed's swamp-holler classic "Amos Moses," which I am not complaining about; it gave me something to listen to besides such knee-slappers as Burt explaining that he's bundled the pig up so it won't contract swine flu. Only Virginia isn't charmed by Mr. Curly Tail, but that changes after the pig saves her from choking to death. Looking admiringly into its eyes, she decides that it's "like Lassie, without the attitude." Just when it's starting to look as if the plot twist will be that the Chances come to love the pig so much that they can't bear to give it up, the family comes home to find that Maw-Maw killed and butchered the animal, using a pizza cutter. Let no one say that Raising Hope doesn't know how to throw the audience a curveball. Things look bleak, but at the last minute, Burt finds a replacement pig. The only problem is, it's an untrained animal that he got from a petting zoo. "The guy told me that for a hundred dollars, I could have any animal I wanted and could do anything I wanted with it. Then he winked at me."
Since people's electoral prospects have been dynamited by far simpler things than hooking a blind man up with a pig that's likely to lead him into traffic, the Chances take shifts silently walking alongside Krumholtz and his pig, keeping him safe and doing all the pig's work for it. There's a happy ending—to the Chance's happy surprise, by the time Fox shows the pig off to the church congregation, they've effectively tutored it in how to do its work—and an inspirational message, which is that Burt is so pleased with himself because of what he's done that he's content to remain a secret benefactor, or pig whisperer, or whatever. But what I'll always remember are some of the images from the standing-in-for-the-pig sequence, which reminded me of the innocent perversity of some of those Boody Rogers comics that were reprinted in RAW. There's a shot of Sabrina, on all fours and in the pig's harness, that I'm going to be having nightmares about. If the expression on Shannon Woodward's face is anything to go on, maybe not just me.
- Church lady examining the collection plate: "Are these pesos?" Virginia: "I won a bet from a gal at work."
- Sabrina tells Virginia that she knows a great trick for relaxing while giving a speech. "If it's the old classic 'picture everybody naked,'" says Virginia, "you can forget it. Burt always pictures everybody naked. We both do. Some people have Cinemax, we have our imaginations."
- Shoveling a forkful of the late Mr. Curly Tail into her mouth, Virginia whimpers, "I'm only doing this so he'll always be a part of me." If they'd given that line to Chloe Webb on Shameless—where, let's face it, a home-butchered seeing-eye pig would fit right in—then I'd know it was meant as a shout-out to Sid And Nancy.
- Though it had its moments—and that pig is a trouper—I think maybe all I need to say about this episode is that there was a colostomy bag joke. I can't even tell you what it was, because colostomy bag jokes affect me like a dog that's having a treat waved in its face; All I really hear is, "Yada yada yada yada, yada yada, colostomy bag, yada yada yada, rim shot!"