While his onetime co-star Patricia Heaton basks in the warm reviews for "The Middle," Kelsey Grammer got the cold shoulder from TV critics for his new sitcom, "Hank." Grammer plays the title character, a corporate exec who loses his job and is forced to move to his wife's small hometown to raise their two children.
"Hank" was faulted by many reviewers for clumsily reworking the "Frasier" formula. "Frasier" is certainly a tough act to follow as Grammer learned two years ago when his workplace comedy with Heaton -- "Back to You" -- failed on Fox.
After all, "Frasier" sits atop the Emmy record book as the scripted show with the most awards at 37, including a record five in a row as best comedy series. During the 11-year run of "Frasier," Grammer won four of his 10 bids for lead actor in a comedy series (1994, 1995, 1998, 2004). But based on the reviews for "Hank," Grammer will be hard-pressed to contend again this year.
Matthew Gilbert of the Boston Globe called "'Hank' a junky sitcom that isn’t old school so much as mold school." As he explains, "Look, I loved Frasier Crane. He was a great character: pompous, ridiculous, fussy, and ultimately - aww - a good guy. For such a snoot-head, he was surprisingly beloved by audiences. But by the end of the 11-season life of 'Frasier,' during which syndicated reruns had been wallpapered all over local channels, I was ready to say goodbye to him for good. But apparently Grammer was not, and once again he has brought back the character, this time named Hank Pryor, for more huffing and puffing."
Hank Stuever of the Washington Post said, "'Hank' is less of a sitcom than a show about sitcom assembly. It belongs in a diagram about sitcoms. Grammer comes to it with that 'Frasier'-like star entitlement, the certainty that success for so many years as that character should translate into success as any character who is sorta like that character."
For Tom Maurstad of the Dallas Morning News, "the main attraction here is Grammer, and there's no one better at playing fussy and oblivious arrogance. But the show has an exceedingly prefabricated feel, a quality highlighted by the incessant laugh track, which serves only to underline how not very funny the jokes are and how fake and forced everything else seems."
And Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle described the show as "a moronic and ghastly effort that suffocates under the cloying and annoying blanket of a laugh track so disturbing it should be destroyed. As should the show. What makes no sense about 'Hank' -- beyond the fact that it even exists -- is that the sitcom is an old-school, multi-camera affair with that intrusive laugh track."
Photo: Kelsey Grammer. Credit: ABC