Directed by: Daniel Attias, Peter Farrelly, Nicole Holofcener, Jude Weng
Distributed by: AMC
Written by Jeff Sparks
After the sunsetting of the wildly successful “Better Call Saul,” Bob Odenkirk has returned to AMC to begin another show. In “Lucky Hank,” he stars as Hank Devereaux, a washed-up writer turned college professor who struggles to balance his personal and professional lives. Going into “Lucky Hank” I didn’t expect it to be anything special. Not very often does an actor jump from one great show into the next, but for me, this series is one of the best of the year so far. My acclaim mainly stems from the show’s great characters. Odenkirk gives yet another great performance as Hank, who is actually not that different from his last character, Saul. Our main man in this series is a pessimistic writer who has long lost his love for the art form. This leaves him unsupporting of his students and unreliable to his co-workers. Hank shows his lack of dedication by constantly wise-cracking in every situation. Besides the lead, the supporting cast delivers as well. Gracie (Suzanne Cryer) is a feisty poet who clashes with everyone around her, especially Hank. Emma (Shannon DeVido) is another snarky, often hilarious professor at Hank’s school. The people in Hank’s personal life also entertain. His naive daughter (Olivia Scott Welch) often brings out his comedic struggles as a father while his quarrels with his headstrong wife (Mireille Enos) allow for Odenkirk’s dramatic side to come out.
The writing for all these characters is extremely focused, allowing them each moments to shine with their own witty dialogue. While the plot isn’t anything special, its slick writing reflects that of the characters. The story sees Hank tasked with firing three of the professors at the school. Although his cold and silly manner makes it seem like he doesn’t care about any of these people, his internal struggle to find a way out of the situation proves otherwise. On the personal side of things, he enters a mid-life crisis when his estranged father moves nearby and looks to reconnect, much to Hank’s dismay. Meanwhile, his wife plans to move to New York for a job whether he goes with her or not. After any difficult experience, Hank’s avoidant personality keeps things light while not taking away from the story. After a fight with his wife in one episode Hank heads to the fridge for a snack. Through his inner thoughts, we hear him not thinking about his problems with his wife, but rather contemplating what jar of pickles he should open. Odenkirk’s delicate touch lets us have a laugh while also knowing he’ll have to face his marital issues at some point.
Although I wish it was longer, eight episodes were likely the best option for this first season because while it was a consistently engaging watch, the great characters couldn’t hold this simple story up forever. As some of the storylines reached an expected conclusion in the final episode, others are left up in the air. The nature of their progression is to be decided in a hopeful second season.
“Lucky Hank” Trailer