Raising Hope, Lucas Neff, Martha Plimpton, Garrett Dillahunt

Ray Mickshaw/FOX

Congrats to Greg Garcia and his Fox comedy Raising Hope for receiving the season's first back-nine episodes order. After Garcia's Jason Lee series My Name Is Earl was summarily booted off of NBC in 2009 during the last days of the dreadful Ben Silverman era, this success has got to feel like pretty good revenge!

So just three weeks into the season, why and how did Hope distinguish itself so quickly? And what does this pickup suggest about the fate of Hope's time-slot partner, the Will Arnett starrer Running Wilde?

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Ratings-wise, Raising Hope retains slightly more than half the audience of lead-in Glee (6 million versus 11 million) , but Hope has been keeping more and more of those audience members each week. Upward trend plus critical adulation equals series pickup. (Plus, declaring Hope a successful hit makes for a nice counterbalance to Lone Star's big fat belly flop.)

On the other hand, Hope's companion in the Tuesday-night-at-9 hour, Running Wilde, has been slumping week on week. TV faves Will Arnett and Keri Russell, backed by Arrested Development boss Mitch Hurwitz, aren't the kind of people Fox would want to mistreat too blatantly, so the series' original 13-episode order will probably air, no matter how badly it rates. Just don't hold your breath for a back nine.

Now, why does Hope work? For one thing, Garcia got pretty smart about writing dumb-character comedy during his years as the show runner of My Name Is Earl, and that confidence and expertise is well-deployed on Hope.

And then there's the casting. Newcomer Lucas Neff is adorable as a well-meaning joe trying to do right by his daughter (despite being completely ill-equipped for the job), but the show belongs to cult-fave actors Martha Plimpton and Garret Dillahunt, who play Neff's blue-collar parents. Plimpton and Dillahunt do ineptitude and idiocy with a remarkable depth. It's like how Jon Stewart is always saying that Americans aren't rabidly political because they are busy doing stuff like raising their children and putting food on the table. All the characters of Raising Hope are like that: Too busy doing the best they can by their families to bother with either compete in a rat race.

Oh, and gold-tooth daycare girl and the "special seat" are pretty funny, too.

What do you think? Tell us in the comments, kiddos. We love to hear from you.

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