As “Raising Hope” returns to FOX for Season 4 on Friday (Nov. 15), it does so on a new night and time and with a new man at the helm. Though the move to Fridays might worry some, new showrunner Mike Mariano isn’t sweating it.
Mariano, who’s taking over for departed creator Greg Garcia, tells Zap2it that he’s happy with the show airing whenever, just so long as it airs at all. “You know, getting a half-hour on primetime and it’s your TV show, it’s fine, you can put it anywhere you want,” he says with a laugh. “I probably would’ve said that 15 years ago when they put me on Friday nights and not meant it, but now I don’t know that the night matters all that much.”
He adds that he doesn’t envy the current occupant of the show’s former timeslot, “Dads,” for the stiff competition it faces from the likes of “NCIS” and “Agents of SHIELD.” “I have nothing but great respect for the shows that are on in that 8 o’clock hour on Tuesdays now on our network … That’s a hard slot,” he admits. “I was in no way like, ‘Oh I wish I was still there to get slaughtered by these three behemoths.’ I think those shows are doing great in that slot for FOX and I think that’s all working out and I hope that us and ‘Bones’ can do a nice number on Friday and that will be something that allows us to keep doing it. That’s really all that matters. I really don’t care where they put it. I just hope that it does what the network needs it to do and allows me to keep making it.”
For his first episodes as the big boss man, Mariano oversaw the inclusion of some big-time guest stars: Jeffrey Tambor appears in the first of Friday’s two back-to-back episodes, as a mysterious Natesville resident, while Molly Shannon begins a recurring role on Nov. 29. “We got very lucky,” he says of the casting coups. “You know, you never seem to get who you want and we did twice right away at the beginning of the season in the first five, my first five episodes having to be responsible for that stuff.”
As for replacing Garcia as showrunner, Mariano, who’s been with the show since the beginning as a writer and producer, he admits the biggest adjustment has been not seeing his friend. “It’s kind of funny because I’ve almost been doing it now seemingly so long for whatever -- it’s been since June. I was thinking the other day about it because I’ve been getting that question a lot now that we’re about to air. And two months ago it was a little weird,” he says. “It was a little like I’d come upstairs and I’d look around for Greg — You know, Greg is one of my best friends. I see him all the time outside of work. I worked for him for 12 years. I mostly just sort of missed him. It was like, ‘Where’s Greg?’ Now I’ve just grown accustomed to the fact that we’re two grown men to text each other all day.”
“In terms of the operation of the show, the crew here, and the writers and the cast — the whole company — is so fantastic at their jobs that for the most part, they just come to me for answers all the time now instead of some of the time,” he adds. “Having great relationships with very talented people who want you to succeed has made the transition very, very pleasurable. There’s nobody here hoping that the ship sinks…which sometimes you hear at other places.”
“Raising Hope” returns for Season 4 on Friday, Nov. 15 at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.