1 9 8 7 – 1 9 8 8 (USA)
CBS ‘dramedy’ Frank’s Place lasted only one season, but was an innovative television programme and won critical praise for the ways in which it used situation comedy to explore serious subject matter.
As Rolling Stone writer Mark Christensen commented, “rarely has a prime-time show attempted to capture so accurately a particular American subculture. In this case that of blue-collar blacks in Louisiana”.
Tim Reid, who had previously played super-cool disc jockey, Venus Flytrap on WKRP in Cincinnati, starred as Frank Parrish, an African-American college professor from Boston who inherits a New Orleans restaurant from his estranged father.
From the beginning, Frank’s Place looked and sounded different (it had no laugh track for a start). The humour was subtle and often poignant, as Frank encountered situations his formal education had not prepared him for.
He was the innocent lost in a bewildering world, a rich and complex culture that appeared both alien and increasingly attractive to him.
The ensemble included Hanna Griffin, a mortician who became a romantic interest for Frank, and Bubba Weisberger, a white Jewish lawyer from an old southern family.
The restaurant staff included Miss Marie, the matriarch of the group; Anna-May, the head waitress; Big Arthur, the accomplished chef who ruled the kitchen; Shorty La Roux, the white assistant chef; Tiger Shepin, the fatherly bartender; Cool Charles, his helper, and Reverend Deal, a smooth-talking preacher in constant search of a church (or a con man’s opportunity).
Frank’s journey into the world of the southern working-class African-American begins when he visits Chez Louisiane, the Creole restaurant he has inherited and plans to sell. The elderly waitress Miss Marie puts a voodoo spell on him to ensure that he will continue to run the restaurant in his father’s place.
After Frank returns to Boston, his plumbing erupts, telephones fail him, the laundry loses all his clothes, his girlfriend leaves him, and his office burns.
Convinced he has no choice, he returns to New Orleans, to the matter-of-fact welcome of the staff, the reappearance of his father’s cat, and the continuing struggle to turn the restaurant into a profitable venture.
Sy “Bubba” Weisburger
Daphne Maxwell Reid
Francesca P. Roberts
Frances E Williams
William Thomas Jr.
Shorty La Roux