Wednesday, September 30, 2009

'Hank' & 'The Middle' reviews - Sepinwall on TV

In today's column, I review ABC's other new Wednesday comedies: "Hank," which is awful, and "The Middle," which is pretty good and seems downright great when placed next to "Hank." Feel free to use this post to discuss one or both after they air tonight.

26 comments:

Will Eidam said...

If "Hank" is really as bad as you say it is, and after looking at the previews I have no doubt in my mind you're correct, then that would make two failed sitcoms for Kelsey Grammer. Can we suggest for him to try a different route for television, say a good drama? I'm ready for him to play some sort of villain or hardcore Army General, right?

filmcricket said...

I like that idea, too, Will. He could be quite convincingly terrifying in a powerful role, I think.

It's too bad about "Hank." It sounds to me like what it needs is someone fulfilling the Martin Crane role on "Frasier" - someone who can stomp on the Grammer character's pomposity with a few well-chosen words. I've been watching a lot of re-runs of "Frasier" lately; I'd forgotten what a brilliant show it could be. I'd like to see Grammer get back on a good show.

Brandy said...

I'm the only person but I really thought Back To You had potential a couple of years ago. That what would Walter Cronkite do game was straight out of my childhood. My dad worked in a newsroom an they played very similar games.

But Hank has never seemed to have any kind of spark. And honestly I'm sort of surprised that The Middle does. I've got no beef with the flyover portion of the country. I live in a flyover state. But the hoity interviews Patricia Heaton has given about the superiority of the middle part of the country have rubbed me the wrong way...

But a fair quality innocuous sitcom certainly beats the alternative of a bad one! Hope it works out for all involved.

I like the idea of Kelsey Grammer in a drama. He's a producer of Medium, right? So it's not like he's opposed to the genre.

zodin2008 said...

I have no real interest in checking out "The Middle" or "Hank". I was more interested in the two that premiered last week and I found "Modern Family" OK but nothing special whereas "Cougar Town" was hysterical and has that trademark Bill Lawrence/Scrubsian sarcasm. That show is a keeper.

Amy said...

Wow. I thought that WAS Dewey in the photo still.

Tracey said...

Re Hank: um... so are we supposed to feel sympathy for obscenely wealthy people who lost everything in the sinkhole that is our economy, when everyday people are losing their jobs and their homes? Or even to care about them? If so, it's a frightening look at how out-of-touch Hollywood is with the rest of America. If we're supposed to get the enjoyment of schadenfreude out of it... I'm a little sick that schadenfreude passes for entertainment.

Jenn said...

In relation to the "Back to You reunion", wasn't Ty Burrell, who plays "cool" dad Phil on Modern Family, also on Back to You (which I liked too, Brandy)?

I'll be checking out The Middle, but skipping Hank.

sarandjar said...

I have reviewed The Middle as well and I think its a great show. I think its better than Modern Family. If you're looking for a family comedy to watch with your kids then definitely pick The Middle! Chek out my review at http://www.familytvaddicts.com/must-see-this-wednesday-the-middle/

Alan Sepinwall said...

In relation to the "Back to You reunion", wasn't Ty Burrell, who plays "cool" dad Phil on Modern Family, also on Back to You

Yup. I mentioned that in an earlier version of the column, but I was spending so much time talking about "Back to You" that it was taking way too long to get to the two shows I was actually reviewing.

Michael G. said...

Well, I hope The Middle does well purely for the sake of the Janitor.

JanieJones said...

Will, I like your idea about Grammer playing a different kind of role.
Filmcricket, I watch Frasier reruns late at night even though I have the series on DVD. It was a marvelous show.

It's a shame that Kelsey can't seem to grow and expand as far playing a character. Hank sounds like a caricature in itself.

I never watched Malcolm in the Middle so I have no ruler as to how to gauge The Middle.

Since I have time tonight, I will probably watch both.
I have no allusions that it going to be "great" television but I will give the old college try.

Linda said...

I really cannot overstate how terrible "Hank" is. It is emphatically, terribly, aggressively terrible. It is offensively terrible. It is mugging-kids-on-"Full House" terrible. You may really, really wonder how Kelsey Grammer got talked into this script.

Jim said...

I'm ready for him to play some sort of villain or hardcore Army General, right?

Apologies if I'm missing your subtle snark, but are you one of the unhappy few who missed his powerful turn as the ghost of General George S Patton in "American Carol"?

LA said...

Curious to see what the chemistry is between Heaton and Flynn on The Middle because I just watched an interview with the two of them on YouTube, and their real-life chemistry was forced. She came off as a snob, and while Neil was trying hard to keep the atmosphere light, but his body language read "keep away from me, bitch."

Mackenzi said...

Patricia Heaton really comes off as a terrible person. The fact that she still has a career is depressing to me. She plays one character: Patricia Heaton, shrill, unpleasant woman.

Maybe her character will run off with Hank and they can live happily ever off my TV.

thejerseychick said...

Hank is as bad as you said - ugh
The Middle def has potential but I don't think I'm going to be a regular viewer. Modern Family clearly wants to be a classic and I love it

LA said...

Halfway through the abysmal Hank. Somehow I missed that Bobbie Barrett is in this.

I noticed Kelsey Grammar is EP to this dreck. Ouch.

Kensington said...

The Middle has potential, and benefitting primarily from some interesting characters, particularly the sweetly awkward daughter.

Hank, on the other hand, was dog sh*t, with all apologies to dog sh*t.

Yech. I didn't know they were still making shows like that. Even the laugh track felt desperate and wheezy. It's a complete throwback to the worst kind of sitcoms from twenty years ago. It's Charles in Charge lame.

Anonymous said...

The Middle was OK.

But

someone tell the director that Indiana (especially central Indiana) doesn't have mountains on the horizon.

But Hollywood continues to think people don't care. Luckily for them, suburban sprawl makes most of America look like the Valley, so they get away with most of the time.....

Puff

HautieTx said...

I really wanted to like "Hank"... but didn't.

I can't agree more that it looked like a bad comedy from the 80's.

Extremely cheap looking set set the wrong tone. And please lose the laugh track.

Had more money went into the sets... maybe even better lighting would have helped.

It could be a funny show had it been filmed better. I didn't necessarily find the writing bad as much as it just looked very cheaply made.

Give it a more natural looking set. As if you are filming on location. That would have helped so much set the atmosphere. To me that matters so much. I can't get past how cheap that set looked.

I do love the actor who is the bro in law? Always funny. Loved him in "Thank you for not smoking".

HautieTx said...

I had to skip watching "The Middle".

I can not get past the Patricia Heaton self righteous public behavior, in order to watch the show.

Matt said...

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm going to keep watching Hank until it's inevitable cancellation. Not because I enjoy it, but it's like that car wreck you can't help but stare at as you drive down the road. There really is NOTHING redemptive about that show, it's utterly horrible! Between this and "Brothers", I can't tell which is more painful to watch. It's totally a feeling of schadenfreude, but for the actors playing the roles and everybody who invested money into these shows!

But "The Middle" was okay. Neil Flynn never disappoints, and Patricia Heaton is a fun actress. But putting Chris Kattan in the show just reminded me how annoying he is. I'll keep watching this one, too.

StickmanAZ said...

Grammar appeared in an episode of "Medium" in which he played Death.

For years I've wished he would portray Bob Hope. Think he has the physical look and the delivery to do it.

JC said...

Speaking of Medium, I was just reading your "why I don't watch" column and I still think you are too quick to dismiss it. It's not so much a procedural (and certainly no more than "Life" was) but rather, an often formally adventurous, character-driven show grounded by genre conventions - just like all of Glenn Gordon Caron's work.

But, granted, I have no need to read analysis of it every week.

Brad Dourif said...

"If Hank isn’t this season’s most painful new sitcom, that’s only because Fox’s "Brothers" and CBS’ "Accidentally on Purpose" are trying to make it a horse race" - one of the greatest sentences I've read in a while.

Anonymous said...

It's so nice to have Malcom in the Middle back on. Is it the same writers or did they just modify the old scripts ?