Tuesday, September 29, 2009

ABC Fall Pilot Review: Hank - Premieres September 30; ION Not Airing Season 2 of Durham County...Yet

Hank

Hank - Wednesdays 8:00PM ET/PT on ABC
Premieres Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 8:00PM ET/PT

Sometimes scaling back is the best way to get ahead. A legendary entrepreneur in the sports retail world, Hank Pryor (Kelsey Grammer) and his wife, Tilly, have been living the high life in New York City. That is until Hank is forced out of his CEO job and has to downsize and move his family back home to the small town of River Bend, Virginia.

A self-made man, Hank is used to being the boss. But now that he's lost almost everything, is he up for the even bigger challenge of being a husband and father? While Tilly regrets having to leave the glitz of New York City to move back to her hometown, Hank is gung-ho to relaunch his career in the place where it all began for him. Unfortunately this also means having to spend way too much time with his brother-in-law, Grady, who delights in Hank's recent misfortunes. Hank struggles to find common ground with his kids -- offbeat son Henry, who would rather play with action figures than toss a baseball with his dad, and daughter Maddie, a hip, New York City teen in whose eyes Hank can do no right. But every great businessman knows that the key to success is to turn setbacks into opportunities. It may take a while for this corporate giant to figure out how to mingle with the little people -- like his family -- but Hank's up for the challenge, a man who feels he is destined to return to greatness. And he is. It's just not the greatness he imagined.

This hilarious family comedy mixes genuine, heart-warming moments with Grammer's trademark blustery humor.

Cast Details:

* Kelsey Grammer as Hank Pryor
* Melinda McGraw as Tilly Pryor
* David Koechner as Grady Funk
* Jordan Hinson as Maddie Pryor
* Nathan Gamble as Henry Pryor

Kelsey Grammer (Hank Pryor) has excelled at the highest level in theatre, television and film as an actor, producer, executive producer and director. Grammer was cast in two TV miniseries, first as Stephen Smith in Kennedy (NBC, 1983), and next as Lieutenant Stewart in George Washington (CBS, 1984). Then, an initial guest-starring role as Dr. Frasier Crane on Cheers developed into the cornerstone of actor's career. He continued playing the celebrated character in two different television series (Cheers and then Frasier) over the span of 20 years, tying the record for longest-running television character. This fall Grammer of course stars in the show but also serves as executive producer of the series. Portraying Crane, Grammer won four Emmys, two Golden Globes and a SAG Award, and received an unparalleled 16 Emmy nominations, eight Golden Globe nominations and 16 SAG nominations. Fifteen years ago, Grammer created Grammnet, a TV production company which has produced such hit television shows as the Emmy-winning Medium for NBC/CBS and The Game and Girlfriends for UPN/CW. Grammer has directed single episodes of Everybody Hates Chris, My Ex Life and Out of Practice. He has also directed several episodes of Frasier, one of which earned him a DGA nomination.
Also accomplished as a voice-over artist, Grammer plays the character Sideshow Bob on The Simpsons, for which he won an Emmy in 2006. He has also lent his voice to the feature films Toy Story 2, Anastasia and Teacher's Pet, to the television series Father of the Pride and Gary the Rat and to the Emmy-nominated Animal Farm for TNT. Other acting credits include Vivendi Universal's An American Carol, Disney's Swing Vote, Fox's blockbuster hit X-Men: The Last Stand, Fox TV's Back to You -- in which he also served as executive producer -- A Christmas Carol for NBC, Benedict Arnold for A&E, Mr. St. Nick for ABC's Hallmark Hall of Fame, and many more films. In his latest film project, a remake of Fame, he stars as the orchestra maestro at the prestigious New York City High School of Performing Arts.

Melinda McGraw (Tilly Pryor) has made regular and recurring appearances on Mad Men, Journeyman, The West Wing, Desperate Housewives, Inconceivable, Center of the Universe, The District, My Adventures in Television, Skin, Living in Captivity, Pursuit of Happiness, The X-Files, The Commish and The Human Factor. She has also appeared in Law & Order: SVU, Saving Grace, The Practice, Ally McBeal, Mad About You, Larry Sanders and Seinfeld. In addition to television, she appeared in the films Meeting Spencer, Skateland, Weather Girl, The Dark Knight, Wrongfully Accused, Nutty Professor: The Klumps and Albino Alligator.

David Koechner (Grady Funk) spent one season on the cast of Saturday Night Live before moving to Los Angeles, where he landed guest appearances on Curb Your Enthusiasm, Reno 911 and played a recurring character on Still Standing. And in film comedies like Out Cold, My Boss' Daughter and A Guy Thing. Concurrently, Koechner, along with Dave "Gruber" Allen, developed and performed The Naked Trucker & T-Bones Show on stage at Club Largo in Los Angeles, which later became a Comedy Central series. Koechner's first major film break came when he was cast as Champ Kind in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Since then he has been seen in a variety of films, inlcuding The Dukes of Hazzard with Johnny Knoxville, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Snakes on a Plane, the animated feature Barnyard, the family film Yours, Mine and Ours, the critically acclaimed Thank You for Smoking, opposite Aaron Eckhart and Maria Bello, Semi-Pro and Get Smart. He recently starred in the Fox Atomic comedy The Comebacks. Koechner can be spotted in cameo roles in The 40 Year Old Virgin, Balls of Fury, and Sex Drive. He continues to play the recurring character Todd Packer on NBC's The Office as well.

Jordan Hinson (Maddie Pryor) began acting in plays at the age of five. When she was 11, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her acting career. She began modeling and appeared in several television commercials. Shortly thereafter, Hinson was cast in her first starring role as Kaitlin Kingsford, an aspiring figure skater in the Disney Channel Original Movie, Go Figure. She went on to play Zoe Carter for three seasons on Syfy's highest rated series, Eureka. She also co-starred with Angie Harmon in the movie Glass House 2: The Good Mother. Between seasons of Eureka, she continued to work, guest starring in such shows as Dirt and CSI: Miami.

Nathan Gamble (Henry Pryor) has already established an impressive career in television and film at age 10. His introduction into the entertainment business came when he played the role of Mike, Brad Pitt's son, in the Golden Globe-winning picture Babel. Babel director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu discovered Nathan after a nationwide search encompassing more than 20,000 young boys, all eager to play the part. Nathan's career soon took off, as he appeared in the feature Marley & Me, starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson, the blockbuster hit The Dark Knight, directed by Christopher Nolan, in Stephen King's The Mist, opposite Thomas Jane and Marcia Gay Harden and directed by Frank Darabont, and in the 3-D feature The Hole for Bold Films.
His television credits include the CW series Runaway, as Donnie Wahlberg's son, and the pilot Captain Cook's Extraordinary Atlas, directed by Tommy Schlamme for ABC. Nathan has also had guest appearances on Ghost Whisperer, CSI, Without a Trace and House, MD.


Pilot Plot:

#1 "Pilot" (Airs September 30)
A legendary entrepreneur in the sports retail world, Hank Pryor, and his wife, Tilly, have been living the high life in New York City. That is until Hank is forced out of his CEO job and has to downsize and move his family back home to the small town of River Bend, Virginia.
"Pilot" was written by Tucker Cawley, and directed by Andrew Weyman.


Analysis:

I saw both the original pilot and the new pilot. They are pretty much the same but with new actors playing the children. There are a few scene changes, such as the opening scene is almost completely different and for the better. I think this new pilot is a bit better than the original pilot. I don't like that they replaced Macey Cruthird with Jordan Hinson, though Hinson sort of does look like Cruthird. Why the change then? Actually before Hinson was cast as the daughter, they had Sasha Pieterse replacing Cruthird. Not sure what happened there, but they didn't shoot any scenes with Pieterse. The son was also recast from the original pilot. Originally it was Ryan Wynott, now it is Nathan Gamble.

Anyway, as for the pilot itself. It is nothing special so far. There are a few laughs, but it has potential. Kelsey Grammer is clearly the star and is in nearly every scene. It's nice to see him in a family comedy for once and playing a dad, but he still has a bit of Frasier in him. The show is about him as a big time CEO who lost his job in New York and he decides to move his family back to his hometown in Virgina. The chemistry between Kelsey and Melinda McGraw, who plays his wife on the show, is not there yet...but I see potential. They had a great scene in bed that was actually funny. She calls Hank, "Awesome Hank." Not sure why since the entire family seems to think he isn't awesome. They all basically ditched his family meeting (see preview video below). Hank is out of touch completely with his family. He has no idea what his kids like and do...so it will be interesting for him to learn now. By the end of the first episode he learns a bit about his son, but also gets played a bit by both the daughter and son. That was one of the better scenes. Brother-in-law Grady Funk is also a bright spot, but I wish he was in it more. David Koechner is a hilarious actor!

Usually pilot episodes, especially for family comedies, are usually one of the weaker episodes because they are setting things up for the show. So I hope the show does get better because we need a multicamera family comedy. I don't think this is in the same league as recent ABC multicamera family comedies such as 8 Simple Rules, George Lopez, My Wife & Kids, Hope & Faith or According to Jim. But Kelsey is certainly a big name and will draw an initial audience. Let's hope the show gets better!


Conclusion:

Originally this show was titled Awesome Hank. I think they should have kept that because Hank seems so dry and broad. Well maybe they decided not to name it that because Awesome Hank is a weird nickname for Hank because they really don't think he is awesome, but maybe they do deep down. I like the nickname for his daughter Maddie better, Moody Maddie! I think you should give the show a chance, meaning not just this episode because it isn't that good. Give it a few episodes to find its footing. Kelsey Grammer deserves that because he is such a great sitcom actor and he even is producing this show. So maybe it will get better. I haven't seen any subsequent episodes, but the second episode is about a yard sale in which Hank tries to run that as he did as a corporation. It's going to be interesting to see if Hank can find himself as a father. The competition isn't that strong in the Wednesday at 8pm hour, so Hank certainly has a shot and ABC Comedy Wednesday is off to a great start already with Modern Family and Cougar Town. Try this....but stick with it for more than just the pilot, because this is just a set-up that isn't very funny yet but has potential. America is an economic crisis, so maybe the nation will watch as it is a reality.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 3.5/5
Funniness: 3/5
Overall: 3.5/5

-- Reviewed by pavanbadal on 09/29/09

Discuss the show after you watch it on Wednesday, September 30 on our message board.

Related Links:

  • ABC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Hank Photo Gallery

    Preview:



    Part of ABC Comedy Wednesday:


    Stay tuned tomorrow for our pilot review of The Middle, which follows Hank on ABC Comedy Wednesday at 8:30pm ET/PT.



  • ION Television has been airing original series Durham County, a one-hour crime-drama series that follows the troubled world of Homicide Detective Mike Sweeney, on Mondays at 10pm since Sept. 7. The show has six episodes for its first season, and ION will air all six...but season two was supposed to start immediately following season one starting Oct. 19. Now that will not happen. Effective Monday, October 19 Criminal Minds will take over the Monday at 10pm slot on ION. Durham County will still air repeats Mondays at 11pm, though. So will ION air the season two episodes at a later date? I'm not sure, but I think they will. 6 more were ordered for season two. The ratings have not been too good, though. The series is a Canadian production and season two has already aired in Canada. Stay with us for continued updates!


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    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of August 21)

    Monday, August 21

    • Nick Kroll (The League/Cavemen) - Watch Nick on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
    • Sutton Foster (Younger) - Sutton appears on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. She will also be on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
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    • Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation) - Amy chats with the ladies of The View on a repeat on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
    • Aziz Ansari (Master of None/Parks and Recreation) - Aziz drops by LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
    • Sabrina Carpenter (Girl Meets World) - Sabrina appears on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
    • Rachel Dratch (Imaginary Mary) and Jenna Elfman (Imaginary Mary/1600 Penn/Accidentally on Purpose/Courting Alex/Dharma & Greg) - Rachel and Jenna are guests on a repeat of Harry, so check your local listings.
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    • Marlon Wayans (Marlon/The Wayans Bros.) - Marlon talks about Marlon on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
    • Lilla Crawford, Taylor Louderman and Elan Luz Rivera (Sunny Day) - The stars of Nickelodeon's upcoming series Sunny Day are guests on PIX11 Morning News on WPIX in New York at 8:45am.