One of the things I’ve constantly be given a hard time from my friends about is my penchant for good television writing. A lot of people take writing for granted in TV, but I stress its importance when referring to quality shows.
“Really it’s the writing? It’s got good writing you say” someone will ask me sarcastically, as if I’m pulling this trait out of my ass.
Yes, it’s the writing. It’s what makes good shows great, mediocre shows bad and bad shows unbearable. Take for instance, “Hank.” The new ABC sitcom, which debuted last Wednesday at 8 p.m., features one of my favorite actors of all time, Kelsey Grammer. Unfortunately, Kelsey’s latest foray into the world of sitcoms is not nearly as promising as his first two (“Frasier” and “Cheers” “" not “Back to You”).
Kelsey plays Hank Pryor, a former well to do CEO whose family is down on its luck and has to move from its ritzy New York City existence to the simple town of River Bend, VA, the hometown of his wife, Tilly (Melinda McGraw). With his past life behind him, he now must reconnect with Tilly and their two kids, Maddie (Jordan Hinson) and Henry (Nathan Gamble) while building himself back up.
Pryor is a snotty, arrogant, driven man that’s returning to familiar roots. Sound like someone you’ve watched before? It doesn’t take a genius to recognize it is a lot like Frasier, with the themes of adaptation and forming lost familial bonds playing a vital role in the show. However, there is one slight difference between Hank and Frasier.
“Hank” sucks and “Frasier” was one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. The difference? Writing. Well that and the supporting cast in Hank is not nearly as strong as Frasier. But it’s mostly writing that is “Hank’s” downfall.
For starters, the jokes were cringe worthy. Someone needs to tell ABC, the 1980s styled sitcom is as dead as the 1980s style hair. The storyline has been done many times before. And the for the most part, there were no sympathetic characters (a big difference between Frasier and Hank). Frasier may have been arrogant and pompous, but he was somehow lovable. You find none of that on Hank.
Unless the show changes dramatically, I have a hard time seeing it get picked up for a second season. People nowadays don’t like recycled crap. That’s unfortunate because Grammer is a talented comedic actor. But like many before him, even he cannot overcome terrible writing.
Three Quick Hits of the Week:
The Office: “The Promotion” “" The Promotion focuses on Jim and Michael trying to co-exist as leaders of the office. Unfortunately Michael is having a hard time letting go of responsibility, while Jim is having a hard time taking control. This episode was decent, but not great. Jim’s problem with leadership is a subject that’s been covered before. Still, in typical Office fashion, they made it seem relatively fresh.
The Big Bang Theory: “The Gothowitz Devotion” “" In this episode, Sheldon uses positive reinforcement in the form of chocolate to change Penny’s unacceptable behavior in his apartment. At it begins to work, Leonard finds offense with Sheldon for using his girlfriend as some kind of “lab rat.” In the side story, Raj and Howard go a Goth club to pick up ladies. Nothing stood out about this episode, but it wasn’t terrible. Any Sheldon-Penny episode is usually pretty solid.
Curb Your Enthusiasm: “The Reunion” “" The Reunion was probably the most anticipated episode in the history of Curb, and it didn’t disappoint. Larry decides, against previous inclinations, to stage a Seinfeld reunion show in order to win back Cheryl. The Seinfeld four return and Larry does his best convince them to do the reunion show. I won’t spoil anything but needless to say, in typical Curb fashion, not everything goes as planned. Perhaps it’s out of sheer fandom, but I really loved this episode. If you’re a fan of Curb or Seinfeld, it’s a must-see.