There is a lot to like in the Season 3 finale of “Raising Hope,” starting with the fact that it’s not the series finale. FOX has picked up the series for next season, so we’ll get to see at least one more year of the weird, warm — and musical! — Chance family.
Thursday’s (March 28) hour-long finale was two holiday-pegged episodes tied together. The first, which touched on both Easter and Passover, is timely, but the second was clearly meant to air closer to Mother’s Day in May. No matter, though — if “Community” can have Halloween on Valentine’s Day, “Raising Hope” can be a little early on Mother’s Day, particularly with an episode as strong and sweet as “Mother’s Day” was.
FOX’s teasers understandably focused on Cloris Leachman‘s dual role as Maw Maw and her 104-year-old mother, who thinks she’s been dead for 20 years and is waiting for angels to come and take her. It managed to sneak in a ton of heartfelt moments too, though, from Hope’s macaroni necklace for Sabrina to Virginia and Sabrina’s heart-to-heart about what it means to be a mom. (I also suspect a lot of parents may have had a tear in their eyes with the inclusion of Cyndi Lauper’s “I Want a Mom That Will Last Forever” over the closing scene.)
If “Mother’s Day” brought out the show’s sweet side, “Burt Mitzvah: The Musical” delivered one of the show’s wall-to-wall funniest episodes ever. When Burt’s visiting parents say they’ve discovered his mom (Shirley Jones) is Jewish, so therefore he is too.
After some textbook motherly guilt tripping (played perfectly by Jones), Burt decides to go through with having a bar mitzvah, Torah passage and all. There is of course great fun in Burt’s fumbling attempt to absorb thousands of years of Jewish tradition in a few days, but it’s the musical numbers that really elevate the episode.
Musical episodes are a risky bet — see, for example, this “7th Heaven” musical that “Hope” star Martha Plimpton wrote — but the “Raising Hope” crew pulls it off. The two numbers about Jewish culture and history are great, but “Rock the Torah,” a spot-on re-creation of 1980s hair-band videos, is just brilliant. It’ll be in your head for days.
As it turns out, Burt’s mom is not actually Jewish — they’re running a con on their friends to get back at having attended a slew of bar mitzvahs, graduations and weddings while Burt never really had any of that. So yes, the elder Chances are the worst. But Burt? He’s kind of the best, going through with it, horrible Hebrew pronunciation and all, to he can say he finally finished something he started.
“Raising Hope” is now finished with its season, but fortunately for comedy fans it’s not finished for good.
What did you think of the finale? What was your favorite musical number?