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Hank: Why the Kelsey Grammer Sitcom Failed

HankThough ABC has overall had good luck with its new comedies, it hasn’t all been a bed of roses. The Middle, Modern Family, and Cougar Town were just renewed for a second season but Hank was cancelled before its first season was even finished. What happened?

Hank follows Hank Pryor (Kelsey Grammer), a Wall Street CEO who’s kicked out of his own company and must relocate with his family to his small hometown in Virginia. The sitcom also stars Melinda McGraw, David Koechner, Jordan Hinson, and Nathan Gamble.

The ABC series was plagued by low ratings and poor reviews almost from the start and neither got better as the weeks wore on. Production was shut down and the series was pulled from the airwaves in November.

Should ABC have tried harder to save Hank?

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At the Television Critics Association press tour, ABC Entertainment President Stephen MacPherson weighed in on why he felt the show didn’t work.

He said, “Shows are alchemy to some extent. Modern Family as a pitch, is ‘here’s this big family.’ But you have the writing, and that incredible cast and it’s so wonderfully portrayed. I love Kelsey. I think he’s fantastic. I think he would agree, we never got the writing to where it needed to be. There is something to be said there with economy and what a guy would face. And viewers are smart — they’re not going to be sold something that just based on star value. They want a great show.”

What do you think? Was it the writing that didn’t work or was there more to it? Should the network have tried harder to save it?

 

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

bullstreet January 15, 2011 at 9:04 pm

I think Kelsey Grammer is disgusting cheating on his wife while playing a “family man” on TV – I’m glad this show was cancelled. He deserves nothing but bad things after what he did to Camille.

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L. F. Hawkins March 25, 2010 at 9:09 am

I never saw the show but it does seem that playing the same character in more than one show would make it a challenge to change the image people have.

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Matt DiStasio January 21, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Like many others have said Kelsey Grammer is very lucky to have worked on two very sucsessful sitcoms portraying one charecter. With hank he was trying to reinvent himself with a new charcter which is extremely hard to do, i could on ly think of two instances where an actor was succesful in reinventing themselve as a main charecter and they are Ted Danson for portraying Sam Malone on “Cheers” and Dr. John Becker on “Becker”. The other person succesful at reinveting themself is Michael J. Fox as Alex P. Keaton on “Family Ties” and Mike Flaherty on “Spin City”.

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Lee January 18, 2010 at 8:07 pm

aUDREY and Crystal are correct. I love Kelsey Grammer, but the writing was NOT funny, and the rest of the cast left a lot to be desired. He needs a another great ensemble and terrific writing (like he had on Frasier – one of the very “smartest” TV comedies ever!!)

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pasquale January 18, 2010 at 6:15 am

“Back to You” was better. Hank sucked.

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DeeDee January 17, 2010 at 11:57 pm

I would have to say that Frasier was one of my favorite ensemble comedies. A show like that with that cast comes along very rarely. And it cannot be duplicated. Kelsey Grammar always seems to be the same character, just with a different name and job. I looked at him and saw Frasier, not Hank. And the fact that the cast we knew and loved was nowhere to be seen only made it worse. As long as he plays the same kind of character who is used to the finer things and has that air about him, I will see Frasier. The cast of Hank just was not very likeable and didn’t seem to have any real affection for each other or any chemistry. It was just not right from the beginning and I don’t think any writing could overcome it.

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aUDREY January 16, 2010 at 6:44 am

My family and I couldn’t believe how Kelsey would allow such horrible actors to surround him. NO CHEMISTRY between him and anyone else! Who did they know to get the parts? I tried to watch it but it was brutal!!

The woman playing his wife with no chemistry was an albatross around Kelsey’s neck. It came across like a high school play with elementary school writers.

Will someone please give Kelsey some good script writers, a plot that suits his personality and a cast with chemistry working? PLEASE!

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Todd Smitts January 16, 2010 at 12:32 am

Can’t seem to catch a break??? The man was a regular on two of the most successful series in TV history. Most struggling actors would sell their soul to get just ONE. The odds are probably up there with winning the lottery or a high school athlete going pro. He could live comfortably without working another day for the rest of his life if he wanted to (though that could get boring fast).
His efforts at another successful series since “Frasier” haven’t quite panned out, but any show can run for years or fizzle out, star power or not. Plenty of other fine actors couldn’t keep a show on the air. He’s in good company.

Now Kelsey is a fine actor well-known to (and liked by) TV audiences and I’m sure he’ll get more chances to make a series. Perhaps he should try something more dramatic next time, hmmm?

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Crystal January 15, 2010 at 10:50 pm

The writing was horrible. The cast was dull except for Kelsey. The show was one of the worst shows I have ever seen. I only kept watching it because I was a fan Of Kelsey.

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ND Mitchell January 14, 2010 at 6:11 am

Ok, my honest opinion is when I see Kelsey Grammer, I still see Frasier. I know he tried with this series, Hank, but he had some Frasier trademarks in his role as Hank. The way he talked and acted, I called this series the New Frasier. Sorry, Kelsey, I think you are an awesome actor but your character Hank had some Frasier traits and characteristics.

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Janine January 13, 2010 at 10:00 am

The poll above doesn’t really say enough. Should the network have tried by firing the writing staff and getting funnier, more believable plots? YES!
Should they have just thrown money at it till it died a horrible death? Of course not.
Better writing would have saved it in a heartbeat save one other issue.

Hank had the worst teen/young adult actor in hollywood cast as the daughter. They should have recast her quickly after the first episode. She can’t sell a line to a drug addict. Classes, a mirror (to practice in, not just look at), and maybe she could come back as a friend of the daughter or something.

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Dave January 13, 2010 at 10:34 am

Since Jordan Hinson has been pretty good for three seasons on Eureka, I think we should blame the material rather than the actress…

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Janine January 13, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Sorry, but as a devout Eureka fan I’d have to disagree. She wasn’t any better on Eureka than she was on Hank, which is why Eureka suffered not a bit when she left to persue other interests.

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Chuck February 8, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Do you have any idea what your talking about Janine? Eureka has not filmed one episode since Jordan Hinson left. How can you say it has’nt suffered? Your probably a wannabe actress who can’t even get a part in your local theatre who is not even in Jordan Hinson’s league. Before criticizing others why don’t you go do something with your life first!!

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Joseph January 13, 2010 at 9:58 am

I would say that, from the sound of it, Mr. MacPherson has it all figured out. Poor Kelsey Grammer can’t seem to catch a break, and this show certainly did not help.

I will admit that I never really watched “Hank” outside of the pilot and a few snippets, but I would say that the writing is what brought it down. On top of that, the fact that it was a multiple-camera sitcom on a network that has seemed to outgrown the concept seemed to have contributed to the lack of effort put into the show.

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