Kelsey Grammer is downsized in 'Hank,' and so are laughs

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THE SHOW "Hank," ABC/7, 8 p.m.

REASON TO WATCH Frasier Crane returns, albeit with another name. Plus, Melinda McGraw ("Mad Men") and David Koechner ("The Office").

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Hank (Kelsey Grammer) has been downsized by the sports retail giant he founded, and now it's time to start over. Where? In the small Virginia town where wife Tilly (McGraw) grew up. Hank professes to be a changed man. He now wants to spend time with his kids - teen drama queen Maddie (Jordan Hinson) and "Star Wars"-obsessed son Henry (Nathan Gamble). They buy a house, settle in and endure visits from the in-laws, or notably one - Uncle Grady (Koechner), who is Hank's nemesis.

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BOTTOM LINE "Hank" is ABC's 8 p.m. bookend to 9:30's "Cougar Town." Both feature big-name stars and deploy current social trends as springboards. Both were written by stellar TV talent - Tucker Cawley ("Everybody Loves Raymond") and Bill Lawrence ("Scrubs"), respectively. But the similarities abruptly end there. "C Town" is oversexed. "Hank" is unsexed. "C Town" is frenetic. "Hank" is soporific. Neither is particularly funny. What happened with "Hank"? An unwillingness to take chances or break form, or even break with the past. This isn't only "Frasier," recast as a standard family sitcom. It's "Green Acres."

GRADE C+

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