It’s hard not to regard the entrepreneurial spirit. Taking something little and ethereal as an idea and building it into something big and substantial, can be an admirable trait, one that can pay you literal dividends. However, when the economy is less than booming, being told that all you need to succeed is to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, might not be the advice you’re looking for. In 2009, amid the economic turmoil, one sitcom brought back a comedy titan to gently gab at that spirit, dealing with the challenges of raising a family and building an empire in Hank.
The premise is simple but effective: Sports goods industrialist, Hank Pryor, loses everything in the recent economic crash, and now must move back to his old town in Virginia. To both economise, and start his empire again. With more time at home, he is starting to learn how hectic his family life is with his son, Henry, who has his quirks. Daughter Maddie suffering from the pressures of teenage life, plus dealing with being uprooted from her boyfriend, and the vast wealth she has become accustomed to. His wife, Tlly, who would have had to manage everything, sees Hank’s increased involvement as both a blessing and a curse. While her brother Uncle Grady is more popular with the kids than Hank is.
Seeing how Hank attempts to instil his industrious philosophy into his family life is the heart of the show, and a fine one to boot, especially as it comes at a loggerhead to the family’s prior way of doing things. You can see it come to a head, in the episode where Hank and his daughter get the same low wage retail job, and how this persistent drive for productivity/achievement has hampered his ability to relax. Even the final aired episode showed that the series had room to adapt its premise somewhat while keeping its core, by bringing in more members of Tilly’s family for Hank to spar with.
Hank is a fun character, his pomposity and incessant drive is perfect for drawing upon Kelsey Grammer’s repertoire of similar characters over the years (see Frasier, among others). While Kelsey needs no introduction, and neither should David Koechner as Uncle Grady, playing into the star’s strength. While Jordan Hinson has shown some previous roles most notably in A Town Called Eureka, does a good job as Maddie. You may also recognise the return of Melinda McGraw and Nathan Gamble reuniting as the mother-son dynamic from The Dark Knight. All together they form a fine sitcom family unit, one that is somewhat recognisable to the real thing at home.
While five short episodes may not be enough to fully onboard the public to the Pryor household, you can see how it would have naturally evolved if given a chance. A comedic look at Hank’s eventual start-up might have been a great idea, or any other paths presented to the premise. The episodes we got, still underline how it is always great to see a comedy talent like Kelsey Grammer back in the sitcom saddle. The last episodes being buried in different networks shows that when the going gets tough, you can always rely on the diligent perseverance of Hank Pryor.
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