As I sat watching the excrementitious second episode of ABC's Hank, it occurred to me that the nagging thing that I had felt was "off" from the beginning of the pilot wasn't, in fact, the vile, lowest-common-denominator comedy and characters, but the house. You see, Hank is about a Fortune 500 executive who has lost his job and fortune and been reduced to nothing along with his wife and children who had grown accustomed to living in a fancy Manhattan penthouse. So if that's your premise why not actually show them in lower-middle class or at least middle-class settings? You know, some kind of actual, bona fide conflict or difficulty?
Judging from both the interior and exterior shots, the new Pryor household is an exceptionally nice home containing a large living room with a nice hardwood floor, a spacious kitchen, rooms for everyone, a second story, a brick fireplace, a backyard, and a front yard. In this economic climate, bitching and whining about your comfortable, secure upper-middle class home like you've been reduced to eating sawdust just makes you look like an insufferable fucking piece of shit. And it's fine if you want your show to be about insufferable pieces of shit (like, to give an actual good example, Lucille Bluth from Arrested Development), but I get the tragic impression we're supposed to find Hank and his awful wife and children sympathetic.
Of course, anyone who actually watches Hank because they enjoy it will be too busy thinking about whether to get Burger King or Taco Bell for dinner tomorrow night and how brilliant Dan Brown's new thriller is and how angry they are to have a Muslim Kenyan in the White House for any of this to occur to them, so let's get past inconsequential things like "having a good premise" and plunge right into the show. This week the Pryors hold a yard sale, during which Hank's wife Tilly gets a job and his daughter wants to drink coffee, both of which Hank initially forbids but gradually comes to accept.
First off, I made no typo: that's not the premise for one two-minute scene, that's actually the brilliant premise for an entire agonizingly, apocalyptically awful twenty-two minute episode. Who? Who the fuck got paid to write this fucking tripe?! UGH.
Beyond that, Hank's entire characterization in the pilot episode was that he was a detached husband and father who never saw his family and cared so little about what they were doing that he didn't even understand his son and daughter's basic personalities and likes or dislikes. Hank didn't care about his family, okay, fine. Now all of a sudden he's such a blustering, overprotective father cliché that he gets upset when he sees his fifteen-year-old daughter drinking coffee? Way to be consistent with the fundamentals of your protagonist over two fucking episodes, you talentless fucking dipshits. Fuck you, fuck this show. Why is this on television? GOD DAMN IT.
I know that Kelsey Grammer is supposed to be a good sitcom actor or whatever, but how incredibly jarring and bizarre is his line delivery in this show? He doesn't "say" any of his lines, let alone actually "speak" to the other characters; he announces every single line towards the audience in the broadest, most cringe-inducing fashion imaginable. I mean, what the hell is he doing? It's like high school theater. Also, I recently realized that Tilly is Commissioner Gordon's wife from The Dark Knight, which will ruin the movie for me, because now every time Harvey Dent is threatening her son I'll be cheering him on with roaring approval to go through with it, as punishment for Hank.
Hank episode two analysis:
Number of times I laughed: 0 (series total 0)
Number of times I chuckled: 0 (series total 0)
Number of times I smiled: 0 (series total 0)
Number of times I said "ugh" out loud: 3 (series total 5)
Worst Character of the Episode Award: It's gotta be Hank Pryor himself, for inconsistent characterization, an awful, played-out character arc, giving in to ancient and dreadfully unfunny "overprotective father" tropes, and terrible, sitcomy acting.
Worst Use of the Laugh Track Award: This is a tough one. I initially leaned towards Hank's disgusting son's little monologue around the 2:45 mark, because if there's anything worse than a little kid trying to be funny, it's a little kid trying to be funny with the worst dialogue to be aired on television this decade. The laugh track doesn't see it that way though, it thinks the little shit is hysterical.
But no, that's only the bronze medal. Worse still is the neighbor's wife's stupid pickle jar line at 14:50, only because of the sheer disconnect of my real-life groan of disgust and agonizing pain and the laugh track going fucking apeshit. I began to question whether or not I was living in the Twilight Zone, stared hatefully at myself in the mirror for several minutes, and retched over the toilet, but ended up just spitting a few times.
But no. Those may be the worst jokes, but the worst use of the laugh track has to be a mere ten seconds into the episode, when Hank shouts upstairs, "Tilly, kids! Get down here, you gotta see this!", and the laugh tracks thinks it's goddamn great! Why? Why is that funny?! KILL YOURSELF.
Still though, the second episode of Hank is marginally better than the pilot, and gets my highest Hank score to date: 0.004 / 10