The Fox sitcom Raising Hope returns with the Season 2 premiere Episode 2.1: Prodigy on Tuesday, September 20 at 9:30 PM ET. Series creator Greg Garcia and star Martha Plimpton recently held a conference call to discuss the new season. Here's what they had to say below.
You have both been teasing this on Twitter. We've got to find out if you're going to tell us who Burt's parents are?
Martha Plimpton: It's fantastic. I can't tell you how psyched I am.
Speaking of Twitter, I mean everybody now, except for baby Hope-maybe she has an account too-is on Twitter. I'm wondering how that has been such a great asset to the entire show and the cast, with the promotion?
Greg Garcia: Well, technically, we have everybody but Lucas Neff. I was actually just pretending to be Lucas Neff for a week and just-torturing him by tweeting like really silly things like, 'Tummy aches are a drag' and things like that. But I actually came clean. So he's still Twitter-free.
Has it been a really great asset for the show and for the cast as well with the promotion of the new season coming up, and previously before with Season One as well?
Martha Plimpton: I have to trust in the powers that be that it's getting out, that it's bringing attention to the show because to be perfectly honest most of the people that are communicating with me have seen the show and they love it. It's a really nice boost hearing how people love the show. But not a lot of people write to say they haven't seen it, which is kind of a good sign.
Greg Garcia: Yes. I mean from where I sit on Twitter, I mean it seems like it's a really fun way to communicate with the fans of the show and the people that are big enough fans of the show that they would want to reach out and follow people associated with the show. I think if you took all of our followers and combined them together, it wouldn't really do much of a blip on the ratings scale compared to our actual viewing audience and stuff. But I mean, it's just really fun to get feedback and have that communication with the real loyal viewers.
Could you tease about some great stories that we'll get to see this season with Maw Maw because everybody loves Cloris (Leachman)?
Greg Garcia:Cloris will be in episodes. Is that not enough of a tease? I hate teasing episodes. I like just people being surprised. Well, you know what? Here's a good one for you. Maw Maw swallows a gold tooth and the family has to deal with the fact of-are they the type of people who go through poop. That's one of my favorite Maw Maw stories.
With the flashback in the first episode, where we flash back to young Jimmy, is that a theme for the new season? Are we going to see a lot more young Burt, young Virginia?
Greg Garcia: I don't think any more than we saw last season. I mean we did a lot of flashback stuff. Ever since the pilot, it's just been a device of the show. I mean, my feeling is that's the way I kind of see life. If you go and you meet some people and you meet like a new family on your block that moves in, sooner or later you're telling stories, and you're telling stories about your past. And you're hearing about things that they've done and that kind of informs you of who they are and where they're going now in their lives. And that's always just been, for me, a big part of socializing with people is stories and things that have happened to them. So I guess in the writing, we feel like we like to use that as a tool. But I don't think it'll be any more than we've done in the first season.
We're getting to know these characters a little bit better, learning that Jimmy has secret talents or at one point had a secret talent. And we're learning a little bit more about Sabrina. What can you guys tease that we'll learn about Virginia this season?
Greg Garcia: I'm looking back at my list of episodes. What will we learn about-? Nothing. We know everything we know about Virginia.
Martha Plimpton: We know everything we need to know about Virginia.
Gregory Thomas Garcia: No, we're going to find out in our third episode some big secrets that Virginia has been keeping from some people. This is the year of secrets. It's all coming out. Yes. Our third episode, yes, we find out some stuff about Virginia. I don't even know how to tease it, it's such huge news. I don't want to give it away.
With the first season coming out on DVD this week, was there one episode that you guys would say to new viewers, if you haven't seen the show watch this episode and you'll get right at the heart of what we are, and what we do?
Gregory Thomas Garcia: I would be greedy and say watch two. I mean, first of all I'd say watch all 22 because we are real proud of all of them. I mean if you're going to buy the DVD, sit down, get some popcorn and have fun. But I would say if you only had time for two-I don't know. I'd say maybe watch the pilot and the season finale because they kind of tell a little story and bookend the season. And it really kind of kicks things off and then kind of plays some stuff out with the different characters and stuff. That's what I would say.
Martha Plimpton: Yes. Yes. I agree. I agree with Greg. I would second that.
Last season, Hope was still young enough where she was just learning to scoot and crawl at the end of the season. This year, though, from what we've seen on the previews and everything she's kind of a walking/running machine, right?
Gregory Thomas Garcia: Yes. She's real mobile.
How does that change how things are on the set and during filming? Because I can only assume it's more of a challenge because you can't just set the little girls who portray her down and expect them to just stay there.
Gregory Thomas Garcia: Yes, it's tougher. You have to use glue. No, we're learning actually. I mean we're learning. We can still put them in a highchair and they're happy and then now we found a little rocking horse that they like to be on. And we'll start scenes with kind of a foreground cross of one of the babies, get them from point A to point B and kind of establish that they're there. But the days of just putting them on a blanket and having them there are over. And the days of carrying them around are over if anybody wants to keep their back muscles intact. So yes, just like real children, as they grow older, there are new challenges and then there's new things that we can do that are fun. And then there's new ways of trying to figure out how to get around certain production things.
How do you balance the humor with the heartwarming parts of the show? Like you have Maw Maw with her Alzheimer's, which is funny, but it's also a serious thing.
Gregory Thomas Garcia: Well she has TV dementia. She's not technically diagnosed with anything other than whacky TV dementia.
Martha Plimpton: Whacky TV dementia.
Well, and then you have some utter ridiculous story lines and then the episode about everybody flirting and the sweet talk Burt gave the coffee shop guy. How do you balance all of that stuff, to keep it a comedy but give it some heart, I guess?
Gregory Thomas Garcia: I think you just kind of feel it out based on the story you're telling. There are some stories that you tell that you don't earn a nice sweet moment in it so you don't try to jam it down the audience's throat and you just go for comedy. And then there are some episodes that definitely have warmer moments at the end. And, I think that our second episode that's going to air has a very nice, compelling and sweet ending to it that isn't necessarily funny for a good deal of the-just the very end of the show. It wasn't driving toward some big comedy piece, but it was very compelling. And once you have met these characters and start to care about them, I think you can do that because the audience is invested in their lives and you have actors that can pull this stuff off and make you care about what's going on with them. But, I think you try to mimic life as much as you can and you just combine ridiculous humor and sweet moments which is, I think, life. At least my life.
Martha, you started off acting very young, obviously not quite as young as the babies on the set. What was it like being a little kid surrounded by grownups when you were starting off like that?
Martha Plimpton: It was a blast. I loved it. I mean, obviously I enjoyed it, otherwise I don't think my mother would have let me do it. And I wasn't doing anything quite as involved as a TV show or anything when I was a kid and I was working mostly on plays, which is really fun for kids. It's like two hours of work a night and you get to be in front of an audience and play act, and it's a lot of fun. I mean it was playtime for me when I was little.
How did your mom manage to keep you grounded?
Martha Plimpton: Well my mom just didn't put a very high premium on me being like really famous or really wealthy or anything. She allowed me to do it because I liked it, because I had a good time doing it. She wasn't interested in me pursuing it in order to enrich her or give her life meaning or whatever. You know what I mean? She let me do it because I liked it and she always let me know if I didn't want to do it, I didn't have to. I could stop at any time. My mother had been an actress and we came from that world in New York, the theater world and the downtown sort of theater scene, and so I guess we didn't really have what you'd call like a Hollywood kind of life at all. We were in New York and so we just had a different kind of life than that.
Has that kind of lesson helped as you've gone along in your career, do you think?
Martha Plimpton: Oh, for sure. I mean I think the thing about it is that it meant I grew up thinking about what I was doing as a job, as work and as something that was about the quality of whatever work I was going to be doing. It wasn't about getting into parties or something like that. It wasn't about cultivating fame or anything like that. So, yes absolutely. I think those are good things to keep in mind.
I wanted to know if there was any characters or any other actors or actresses that you would like to see guest star on your show.
Martha Plimpton: Well, I'll tell you something very exciting which is that just the other day we were talking about who was going to play Burt's parents in an upcoming episode. And I got so excited about Lee Majors coming on the show because of my enduring crush on him since I was a little girl.
Gregory Thomas Garcia: Yes, you were very excited.
Martha Plimpton: "Is he doing it? Is he doing it?" That was me, for like a day, maybe longer. So I'm very excited about Lee Majors, of course. Shirley Jones is going to come on and play Burt's mom and that's just beyond great.
Gregory Thomas Garcia: It's funny because we get these roles and then I'll come down with like a list and we just all kind of get all geeky and look at all the names and there's like so many that we're excited about and stuff. So I think it's hard to kind of just say, 'Oh, there's this one person that we want on the show.'
Martha Plimpton: Right. No, it's true. It's true. But I'll tell you, it's thrilling that we even get to do that. I mean, I love that Greg even lets us know who he's thinking of casting because I don't know, it's just really fun and we all get very excited and we sort of sit there twisting our little mustaches wondering who we're going to victimize next.
I had a question specifically about Greyson Chance and the genesis of this episode and using basically a non-actor, although he's done some theater. And he's such a great kid. Can you talk about that, Greg?
Gregory Thomas Garcia: Yes. Well my son is 13 and he went to a bar mitzvah and he came back and was raving-because, of course, everyone has crazy, insane bar mitzvahs and bar mitzvahs around here-and he came back raving that it was in an airplane hangar and Greyson Chance was playing. He was talking about how amazing he was and I said, 'Oh, well who's that?' And I looked him up on You Tube and I realized, 'Oh yeah. I've seen this clip of the paparazzi.' And I watched him for a second and I thought, 'Man he kind of looks like a young Lucas Neff.' Then instantly I was thinking, 'Wow, maybe this would be a good a guest spot to do.' And then I thought of the idea that Jimmy perhaps had musical talent at one time in his life, and how we'd deal with that. And I brought that to the writers and they ran with it. And we all kind of came up with a story and then I actually went through my friend who's the executive producer of Ellen because I know Greyson does a lot of stuff with Ellen and he put me in touch with Greyson's management. We all got on the phone and they seemed interested, and we all went to see Greyson at a little concert and met him there, and then that was that. And we signed him on, he's going to do three episodes.