Lucky Hank Review 2023 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online
If there is one thing we’ve come to know about Bob Odenkirk, it is that there is no one out there who can play a sad man quite like he can. In AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” he brought us into the troubled psyche of Jimmy McGill and showed in painful detail how, despite the goodness deep inside him, he became the charismatic yet slimy lawyer Saul Goodman. It remains a titanic performance over six spectacular seasons of television. Be it in the small moments of internal crisis or the explosive external ones where Jimmy’s callousness begins to catch up with him, Odenkirk brought life to a man facing moral annihilation.
His return to the small screen, in “Lucky Hank,” is not on the same level as that. Of course, there is little that ever could be and there is much to appreciate in his latest role. Often silly though with a healthy heaping of snark, Odenkirk disappears once more into his character as he crafts what promises to be another precise portrait of a man who remains lost. It doesn’t have the same rich darkness and sharp direction of “Better Call Saul” as it is more broadly comedic in tone than it is incisively cutting. However, it is elevated by both Odenkirk and the rest of the cast when it counts.
In the first two episodes provided for review, we observe Odenkirk’s Professor Hank Devereaux as he teeters on the edge of the personal and professional chaos of his own creation. An opening scene sees him remaining utterly uninterested in his creative writing class until one student, Jackson Kelly’s arrogant Bartow, challenges him to offer feedback and engage with them. When Hank then proceeds to give constructive criticism about where he finds this student’s story to be lacking, this quickly descends into a more testy argument. Bartow has the class on his side in pushing their Professor to actually care, but he is still unwilling to actually reflect on the advice he had been asking for once he gets it. When he proceeds to turn to insults, Hank takes the bait. He launches into an extended diatribe against this student, the college where he teaches, his own colleagues, and even himself. With the room in stunned silence, Odenkirk delivers a fitting punchline to cap it off when he says “Well, you wanted me to talk more.”
It is a great way to thrust us into the show as it wastes no time in showing Hank’s discontentment with his life and profession. For all the ways it may sound like the character is just another version of Jimmy, with Odenkirk’s caustic wit remaining as intact as ever, he has a greater insecurity that sneaks up on you. Out are the gaudy suits of Saul and in their place is a gray beard that masks the recurring grimace etched on Hank’s face.
As the chair of the English department at the fictional Railton University, he seems mostly exhausted with the bickering of his fellow professors yet also feeds the fire with his own disparagements. There can be a gleefully mean spirit to this, expressed most in one moment where Hank’s nose is caught in the spiral notebook of one of his colleagues who takes a swing at him and splatters blood on the shirt of another. His physical pain elicits a wince, but it is his personal emotional strife that really begins to take hold.
Based on the 1997 novel “Straight Man” by Richard Russo, the series is never afraid to have a go at Hank’s own flaws. Though his narration can be a little clunky as he opines on the failings of others, his curmudgeonliness is a shield as he frequently runs from his problems. In one standout gag, this is literal as he sprints away at the far edge of the frame. The only person he actually seems to have any real respect for is his wife Lily, but he remains piss-poor at actually showing her this. Played by Mireille Enos, she knows him better than he may even know himself and delivers some great zingers that take him down a peg. She isn’t just there as a foil for him as we learn she wants to leave to live in New York and has life aspirations of her own. In many ways, Hank is holding both her and himself back. Amidst this quietly interpersonal tragedy, it remains funny just to see Odenkirk continuing to work at the top of his game. Even a moment where he just leans forward with an exasperated expression on his face is delightful, proving that he can almost effortlessly hit all the comedic notes just as the dramatic ones loom.
The exact plot machinations of how all this plays out are best left to discover in the show as there are some surprises that often prove to be absurd and bittersweet. When Hank faces potential fallout from his outburst in class, he becomes almost relieved that his academic career may soon be coming to an end. Though there is a dearth of visually dynamic shots that convey such complexity in “Better Call Saul,” Odenkirk remains unparalleled in how he captures a range of emotions as his face falls into sadness. Hank is still sarcastic and, frankly, kind of a prick. Even those who try to be kind to him are not immune from his biting disposition. He seems angry with the world, but it is primarily anger with himself.
This is all played with a more light touch as felt when Hank delivers a confessional monologue towards the end of the first episode. It is undercut with a joke that serves to poke fun at his self-seriousness while also showing how, in the one moment where he really opened up, it didn’t seem like he was listened to. There is part of this that feels like the series is blinking in the face of a greater sadness, but Odnekirk ensures we never lose sight of his character. Scenes would benefit from lingering just a bit longer with one closing exchange at the end of the first episode carrying a heavy weight that passes far too quickly. There obviously remains plenty of room to explore this in future episodes, but these moments still hold it back from building as strong a foundation as one would hope. It feels like his emotions are slipping away.
With that being said, as Hank settles back into the routines he has built to protect his delicate day-to-day life following this, we come to see him more fully and understand this is also fundamental to who he is. As he deals with more potential professional and personal pitfalls, the realization becomes that his biggest problem is that he is not confronting the internal sources of his anxieties. It is possible that Hank may never actually realize this for himself until it is too late. What remains a certainty is that, no matter how much the series doesn’t always match his spark, Odenkirk continues to excel at playing sad men.