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'Raising Hope' wraps up series with perfect, unexpected finale

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"The Father Daughter Dance" - "Raising Hope" (Series Finale)

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It’s amazing how things can play out when it comes to television. “How I Met Your Mother” knew for a full year that the series was ending, and knew how they wanted the series to end much longer than that and turned out what many viewed as a lackluster series finale (I myself was disappointing in many aspects of it). “Raising Hope” didn’t know what its fate would be when it wrapped up its fourth season, though I’m sure show-runner Greg Garcia knew cancellation was a possibility due to low ratings, and turned out an episode that was incredibly worthy of being a series finale, and one of the series’ best episodes in general.

Fox sent “Raising Hope” off with a one-hour block of two episodes, but I’m not going to spend time on “How I Met Your Mullet” (which is an awesome episode title), even though it was a solid half hour, because it was merely a typical episode of the series.

The second half hour of the finale block “The Father Daughter Dance,” which was meant as the season four finale of the series, turned out to be the series finale and the significant episode of the two.

Even though the episode was in the can before the announcement came that Fox was not renewing the series for a fifth season I’d like to believe that Garcia read the writing on the wall and knew that this was likely it for the Chance family. How else could he have come up with such a fantastic final chapter for this series?

The episode begins with Virginia’s (Martha Plimpton) estranged father, Arnold (guest star Jeffrey Tambor), who appeared for the first time in an earlier episode from the season, visiting Natesville with a con to get Virginia to throw him a wedding in exchange for paying Hope’s future college tuition.

After much debate Virginia agrees to do so, for the good of Hope, but Maw Maw (Cloris Leachman) is leery of Arnold’s intentions and finds out that he’s not actually getting married. However, the surprise comes when we find out his real intentions … to throw Virginia the perfect wedding she and Burt (Garret Dillahunt) never got to have.

The wedding, based on her perfect wedding that she’d planned long ago as a teenager, came complete with a replica of the wedding dress worn by Princess Diana during her wedding to Prince Charles and an appearance by Kenny Loggins.

If you’ve been a fan of this show from the beginning then you’ve certainly gotten incredibly close to the tight-knit Chance family – especially the lovable Virginia and Burt, whom I have long considered the best comedy couple on television and probably one of the best ever – and thus I’m sure you too got teary eyed during their wedding dance to Loggins’ beautiful “Danny’s Song.”

If the dance alone wasn’t enough to get you misty eyed, then the callback to the pilot episode of this series, when the duo performed the song to get a crying Hope to sleep definitely should have. This was an incredibly nice touch by finale writer Mike Mariano, I’m sure with input from Garcia, and simply made the episode by drawing a perfect line between two of the series’ finest scenes/moments.

Among the things I’m going to miss the most about “Raising Hope,” one of the truly underrated comedy series of the last few years, is the aforementioned chemistry between Plimpton and Dillahunt as Virginia and Burt. I’m going to miss the side-splitting hilarity of Dillahunt’s performance as Burt, the single funniest character on all of television, in my opinion, of this series’ four year run. I’m going to miss the absolute silliness of Leachman’s Maw Maw. And, I’m going to miss the overall irreverent tone of this series, which even in its often incredible satirical and sarcastic tones still taught us that love and family are keys to happiness in life above all else.

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