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Series premiere: Hank

In television on 09/30/2009 at 8:05 am

(Note: This trailer features the original child actors, who have since been replaced.)

Series name
Hank

Debuts
Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC

Regularly airs
Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC

Premise
Manhattan family man, downsized from his CEO job, moves into more humble surroundings  — Riverbend, Virginia — and tries to bond with his family without the aid of servants and the distraction of a job that takes up 20 hours a day.

Primary cast and crew
Kelsey Grammer (Back to You, Frasier, Cheers) is Hank Pryor
Melinda McGraw (Mad Men, Journeyman, Desperate Housewives) is Tilly Pryor, the wife.
David Koechner (Reno 911!, Curb Your Enthusiasm) is Grady Funk, Tilly’s brother. He loves seeing Hank brought down to his economic level.
Jordan Hinson (CSI: Miami, Eureka) is Maddie Pryor, annoying teen daughter. (Hinson is the third actress to tackle this role.)
Nathan Gamble (Babel, Marley and Me) is Henry Pryor, mildly eccentric son. (He replaces the original actor.)

But what do I know anyway? After having seen the first pilot, I…
The show is at least a little retooled, with new actors playing the children but that addresses only that weak part of the series (the original Maddie was prickly and unfunny, although the original Henry was quite sweet). The show’s site has many of the original scenes in its promo videos and so the main problem likely remains: The central character has all the stuffiness of Frasier Crane from Cheers and Frasier, but none of the (eventual) self-awareness that gave him warmth. And a starchier Frasier as a dad? Tough sell. The pitch that audiences will laugh off thier own financial stress as they watch this portrait of a well-heeled family brought down by the recession? Good idea on paper, but the characters have to come a long way from their original stiff, (unfunnily) condescending portrayals.

Other reviews
The New York Times says Grammer is still funny, but the concept is tired.

The Hollywood Reporter observes that if you want to hit the real-world note of recession survival, the series needs to have some elements of realism.

Official website
Basic character and actor bios, videos.

Wondering when the other new series and returning series are kicking off?
Click here for my select list of fall 2009 premieres and other important dates. Who am I to tell you what to do, but you could consider bookmarking it…

— Denise Duguay

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