01/22/1990 at 01:00 AM EST
NBC (Thurs., 9:30 P.M. ET)
The two requisites for a successful sitcom are a talented cast and witty, rhythmic writing. Grand, from Carsey-Werner, the folks who brought you Cosby, succeeds on 1½ counts, missing in its debut only a consistent punch-line pulse.
The ensemble cast represents three social levels in Grand, a depressed Pennsylvania town. Abandoned mom Pamela Reed and her overweight daughter, Sara Rue, are the trailer-park contingent. The most promising chemistry occurs in the mansion of patriarch John Randolph—between his spacey son, Joel Murray, and the acerbic family retainer, John Neville. Then there's Randolph's middle-class, affection-starved niece, Bonnie Hunt, and her stuffed-shirt husband, Michael McKean.
The premier episode lays out the premise and the characters expeditiously. While the writing is often self-conscious and artificial, making about a third of the jokes fall flat, that's easily fixed. The tone of the show, melding the ring-around-the-blue-collar brashness of Roseanne with the cockeyed humor of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, is often raunchily disarming. Quality hardly matters, anyway. Nestled in the golden hammock between Cheers and L.A. Law, Grand is a can't miss proposition.