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October 10, 2015

Hank is truly painful to watch

by Joel Keller, posted Oct 15th 2009 2:03PM
Kelsey Grammer and Melinda McGraw of HankLet me give you a quick inside look at how things operate here in online entertainment journalism land: ABC sent us an invite to talk to Kelsey Grammer (and his co-star Melinda McGraw) during the same whirlwind "defending Hank" tour that Bob mentioned in his post yesterday. As much as I wanted to talk to Grammer, the conditions just didn't seem to be right.

For one, we would have had maybe ten minutes to talk to him. For another, he'd be defending a show that is a) terrible and b) on the verge of being cancelled. I want to talk to Grammer about comedy, Frasier, Cheers, his heart attack, and lots of other stuff. I wasn't particularly interested in him telling me how good he thinks Hank is for the whole interview.

But, when he told The TV Addict that last night's episode was going to be funny, it got me curious; maybe they had figured things out and made a leap in quality. So I tuned into last night's episode. I wish I hadn't.

The whole episode made me cringe. I really thought we had gotten past silly and contrived high-concept plots, even in multi-camera shows, but I guess Tucker Cawley and his crew haven't gotten the memo. "Let's have Hank work in an ice cream shop with his daughter!" You would think that, when this idea came up in the writers' room, Cawley, who was an executive producer of Everybody Loves Raymond and consulted on the ever-improving Parks and Recreation, would have shot that idea down. But it actually made it to the shooting stage, even though I haven't seen a plot that dopey since the days of Family Matters.

Of course, the dumb plot led itself to dumb jokes. "Have you been eating the rum raisin?" Hank's daughter asks him after he comes to work with an upbeat attitude. Heh, get it? Because he's drunk from the rum! That line had more dust on it than the baseboard behind my couch.

But the thing that set my teeth on edge the most about the episode was Grammer himself. He plays the role like he's still Frasier Crane. It's the same problem I had with his previous show, Back To You; since Frasier ended, he's played every role with the same pompous bluster as his signature character. It's like when every role Helen Hunt did in the nineties was a variation of Jamie Buchman (yes, even the role in As Good As It Gets that won her an Oscar; it was Jamie Buchman as a waitress); she never played her roles differently enough to make you forget about the one for which she was best known.

In real life, Grammer seems to be a down-to-earth kind of a guy. I'm not sure why he's not playing Hank Pryor, who made his own fortune as a sporting goods magnate before he was removed from his company, that way. It would have given people an opportunity to see a different side of Grammer, but yet he chooses to keep to the same old bluster. It's too bad.

If you're still curious, last night's episode is on SlashControl. But you're better off watching the rest of the ABC comedy line-up there instead.

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Yes, too bad about the whole Wednesday night thing. Proves good comedy is a scarce commodity.

October 15 2009 at 4:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Was Kelsey Grammer typecast as Frasier Crane, or was he cast as himself. The actor seems unable to break the mold of the pompous fella who always apologizes 20 minutes inbto the show. It's as if the casting folks see that role and say: Get me a Kelsey Grammer.
As an aside, when Patricia Heaton was on Jimmy Kimmel, she referred to the failed Fox sitcome with herself and Grammer as "Keley's show" as if tring to distance herself from the failure.
So we have another Frasier Crane wannabe show. It is what it is.

But look at its rating: It is gathering slightly less (6.24 million viewers on wednesday) than Heaton's supposed success (6.75)

October 15 2009 at 3:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I totally agree...it was painful. I watched it too because of the "it's going to be funny" promise. I have watched all 3 episodes and they are just hmmm "dopey" as yo put it. It reminds of a sitcom filmed in the 70s or 80s and not a good one at that.

At one point I thought poor Mr. Grammar is trying to carry the whole show on the most silly predictable dialogue I've heard in quite awhile.

It had almost a "Brady Bunch-esque" feeling to it without any of the charm which kept Brady Bunch on for years.

You almost expect "hank" to be declaring " I told you kids not to play ball in the house" after an incident ....and us still not laughing.

I regular DVR Frasier at 3AM here in California to watch during the day.. I fear I will not watch Frasier when Hank is on.

It's a shame because I am sure the show could be so much better. The concept is great in light of the current economy and the many mini-Madoffs running amuck. It is very believable to hear of a CEO who lost it all .. and had to downsize. However, the comedy here in Hank is just not there -- I give them kudos for trying, but that's it.

Cancel Hank and order more Modern Family....

Maybe Mr. Grammar could be a rich eccentric uncle on Modern Family - would be more believable than Hank. I definitely enjoy Kelsey Grammar, just not on this show.


October 15 2009 at 2:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have a lot of patience for shows and will usually watch 4-5 episodes of a new series, but it was clear from the pilot that this show is horrible and the writers have no clue what they're doing.

October 15 2009 at 2:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have watched it since it began. However after last nights episode I deleted my season pass. I only made it through the 1st 10 minutes and quit watching. I really wanted to like this show but it is terrible. I at least gave it a shot. I do love the other Wednesday night shows. Really surprised how much I like The Middle.

October 15 2009 at 2:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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