Raising Hope Raising Hope

Imagine a world without Hope. Hope Chance, that is, the adorable infant who somehow thrives amid the chaos of Fox's raucous but innately sweet family comedy Raising Hope (9:30/8:30c). The show's Christmas episode takes a page from It's a Wonderful Life — because, really, who hasn't? — when a drunken Jimmy (Lucas Neff) dreams of how things might have been if he hadn't knocked up a serial killer and been left with a baby to raise. The trigger for this alt-scenario is a hoot, as the Chance family goes to the movies, watching in dismay as a movie trailer teases a comedy based on their haphazard lives ("Dumb gets a new name," bellows the announcer about The Chances of Natesville).

If you think things couldn't get worse for this hard-luck family, wait until Dream Jimmy gets a look at the homestead without a baby on board to bond them all together. Virginia (a nearly unrecognizable Martha Plimpton) has gone grotesquely to seed, Maw Maw is acting like she's in another dimension — so what else is new — and Jimmy declares, "This is just like that movie Inception. I have absolutely no idea what's going on." We, of course, know how it will all turn out, but it's still a treat when Jimmy embraces his imbecilic heritage, without which there would be no Hope.

Hope caps a night of Fox holiday episodes, starting with a new Glee (8/7c) in which New Directions has to choose between two simultaneous gigs, and the return of Justin Long as Jess's endearingly awkward suitor on New Girl (9/8c), who freaks her out when he gets her an expensive Christmas gift. Meanwhile, there's Schmidt's office party to crash, which means another appearance by the terrific Michaela Watkins as his boss.

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