Picks and Pans Review: Frank's Place

updated 09/14/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/14/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

CBS (Mon., Sept. 14, 8 p.m. ET)

B

On your list of fleeting TV trends, add this one: At least four sitcoms this season come without laugh tracks or laughing audiences—just quips followed by silence. Call it Molly Dodd disease. Producers think that eliminating recorded laughter makes their shows instantly classy, heady and high-brow. But live audiences and even laugh tracks—except the really obnoxious ones recorded at second-grade slumber parties—do occasionally perform a useful function: They remind the people making sitcoms to be funny. Frank's Place has no laugh track; neither does it have quite enough to laugh at. But the show has other things going for it. Charming Tim Reid, late of WKRP and Simon & Simon, stars as a Boston professor who inherits a Creole café from the father he never knew. A stranger in a strange land, Reid comes down to New Orleans to run the place and mingle with its wonderfully weird characters: a beautiful mortician (played by Reid's real-life wife, Daphne Maxwell Reid), an aged "waitress emeritus," a killer cook who keeps a baseball bat behind the deep fryer, an ethnically confused lawyer named Bubba Weisberger and a preacher of dubious virtue. The cast is delightful. The food looks scrumptious. The jazz sounds delicious. But in the premiere episode, so much time goes into setting up the story that there's not much left over for jokes. Frank's Place has the sit; now it needs a little more of the com.

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