Thursday, October 15, 2009

HankWatch, Day 3

As the day dawned deceptively clear and blue, a fell wind swept east across the land, and it stank of death. The people will put on their genial grins and exchange pleasantries and go about the day as if everything is alright, because the truth is too horrible to even imagine, let alone acknowledge, yet we all feel it — a crime has been committed against humanity itself, an atrocity beyond reckoning, and we may never know joy again. Yes, that's right, the third episode of ABC's Hank has aired.

This week on Kelsey Grammer's black hole of comedy that sucks all warmth and humor from your very soul and makes you forget that the word "funny" actually has real-world application, Hank Pryor and his daughter Maddie get jobs at the mall's ice cream shop. Thankfully, in the more interesting B-plot, oh, wait, there is no fucking B-plot, or followup on or dialogue reference to the job Tilly got last week whatsoever, because the producers of Hank probably rightfully conclude that anyone who watches Hank is much, much too dumb to hold on to any scrap of information for seven whole days. Hank's shitty son only makes a cameo appearance. It's true that in some of the other shows I watch characters might only make cameos or not even appear in a given episode, but then again, all of the other shows I watch have more than five goddamn characters.

Look at that dead-eyed "help me" look behind the vacuous grin of the actress who plays the wife in the final shot of the opening theme song. Chilling. If episode five concludes with Tilly murder-suiciding the entire Pryor household and then the series abruptly ends I'll take back everything I said about Hank and declare it the avant-garde television masterpiece of the twenty-first century.

The mall set is one of the most jaw-droppingly shitty and amateurish sets I've seen in film or television this decade and makes me wonder if Hank's budget is more than $100 an episode, because there are no fucking extras. This is supposed to be a bustling mall (Hank complains to his wife about the massive volume of ice cream customers, which is patently false), but there are about two people visible at any given point in the entire goddamn building. Why in the fuck did they use a big mall hallway backdrop with store fronts only to have the whole thing eerily empty and silent? Listen, Hank producers, I know you're lazy, cheap, and utterly devoid of talent, but this is a goddamn nationally broadcast prime time television show. Do you think you could maybe pony up a thousand dollars to hire a dozen extras to wander around the background pretending to look in store fronts, you pieces of shit?

In the interest of fairness, I do have to admit that Hank got its first-ever halfway smile from me this week, when I saw the manager of the mall ice cream shop. Not because the character has any good (or, for that matter, non-awful) dialogue, but because he's played by Samm Levine of Freaks & Geeks fame. It was a fleeting flicker of a grin, but I'll count it. And man oh man does it bode well when the most entertaining moment of three episodes is recognizing an actor from another series that's been cancelled for a decade. Please, cruel world, put Hank out of its misery. I can't believe that over an hour of this show now exists in the world. I feel ill.

Hank episode three analysis:

Number of times I laughed: 0 (series total 0)

Number of times I chuckled: 0 (series total 0)

Number of times I smiled: 1 (series total 1)

Number of times I said "ugh" out loud: 1 (series total 6)

Worst Character of the Episode Award: I'm gonna have to go with Maddie Pryor this week, not because her dialogue is any worse than her father's, but because the character concept of a fifteen-year-old girl accustomed to Manhattan penthouses and millions of dollars suddenly reduced to a middle class living isn't wholly without merit, yet they've managed to make it impossibly bland and boring even by the lax standards of American broadcast television. "Fish out of water" stories don't work if you fail to establish any difference between the water and the dry land, assholes.

Worst Use of the Laugh Track Award: This one is always a tough call, because the asinine laugh track won't shut the fuck up for more than ten seconds and nothing it cackles at is remotely amusing. But I'll have to tentatively go with the 11:26 mark, when Hank's wife suggests he quit his ice cream job and he responds "Quit is not in Hank Pryor's vocabulary" to the absolutely fucking inexplicable mirth of the laugh track. I would love if Hank's laugh track could follow me around for a day, because then I could do things like order a burger and ask someone what time it is to the chorus of explosive hysteria.

All in all, Hank's third outing is funny on a scale somewhere between a kitten dying of starvation and an ordinary, static door, and gets a 0.003 / 10

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