Kelsey Grammer's last sitcom, "Back to You," made it through a meager 17 episodes. With "Hank," Grammer may be looking back at those 17 episodes as the salad days.
ABC's "Hank" is an old-school setup-punchline sitcom, complete with laugh track. The laugh track is cranked up to 11 -- we saw a rough cut, so here's hoping it gets smoothed out in the final product. It had better, because the show eschews minor elements like plotting and multi-layered characterization in favor of every line being some sort of sarcastic retort. Not a single wisecrack got a laugh other than from the studio audience.
Grammer stars as Hank Pryor, owner of a chain of sporting-goods stores who has recently been deposed and must move from Manhattan to rural Virginia. Hank has a patient wife who waffles from despairing over their circumstances to accepting the new life at the whims of the "script"; a snarky teenage daughter in the broadest sitcom sense; and a nerdy, hyperactive son.
Hank himself is a supposed titan of industry who can't relate to his family other than as employees. That's a source of "humor" now that he has to spend all of his free time in exile with them.
We most feel sorry for Jordan Hinson, good as wise-beyond-her-years Zoe Carter on Syfy's "Eureka" and absolutely wasted here as Maddie. At least she has a summer job to fall back on. Grammer may be begging her to put in a good word soon.