Frank's Place (1987–1988)
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Too funny, without being sexually explicit with adult material. Brilliant.
Beah Richards would deservedly win the guest actress Emmy as the widow of the man who "may" have killed himself, but to this day I enjoy fellow nominee Conchata Farrell from the same episode as the lawyer representing Richards. The lines "I spit up on her. My mother died in her arms" is a chilling, stunning setup.
"In other words, gentlemen, I am your worst nightmare come true."
The Rosalind Cash-Lynne Thigpen episode. Subtle, yet memorable. Cash was the old voodoo ways, Thigpen was the updated voodoo ways. Too classic.
Loved the "spell" being carried in by Thigpen in a paper bag covered in aluminum.
I had forgotten about the dead body being removed from the funeral home. The "body" would tip his hat and smile at the very end after credits rolled.
The boxing match. Sensational.
I suppose my fave was the restaurant episode with the country band, the drag queens, the white family and "Pick a bale of cotton." Around the same time, Robin Williams had pulled the same joke on a special "Carol, Carl, Robin & Whoopi" but it was still funny here.
My brother managed to record most of the episodes, only missing a two parter dealing with drugs.
I still think about this grand show.
Daphne Maxwell-Reid and Virginia Capers. Hilarious when she got mad and was in that wheelchair.
And the reverend! How could I forget him! "But the Lord loves me!"
He would have a quick scene in the boxing match that was too funny.
Toward the end, Frank would be told that Daphne was getting married to a football player and he would meet the guy, who had a voice like a cartoon character. Frank felt vindicated. At the very end, he mimicked MIckey Mouse giving football calls.
This show would be replaced with that horrendous retirement community show that starred Glynis Johns, Alan Young and the fellow who played Wimpy in the Robin Williams-Shelly Duvall Popeye movie.
Was Frank's Place ahead of its time? Who knows?
It would receive numerous nominations in the only year it was on, and other than Richards' guest win, it would only receive writing.
Yes, it seemed to be because they were Black. Even in the eighties it could be too much. It was a shame.
But thankfully the show was done for that year.
And, one of this show's most unique and classy perks was something that was pure class. There was NO LAUGH TRACK.
Frank's place was truly one of the greatest. This kind of quality is sorely missed. If only this show would be repeated now on any channel, anywhere- - that would be a wonderful thing. And if word got out that indeed it could be seen again on TV, it would not only instantly attract the viewers who still miss it very much; it would most likely establish a significant number of new loyal fans.
Somehow, someone, anyone, PLEASE create a DVD of it.
Definitely leads off the list of "why don't the networks spend the six hours it would take to hire some intern to transfer the tape to DVD and release this oblivion" shows.
Other characters were Hanna Griffin, the object of Parrish's affections and the assistant to Bertha Griffin-Lamour, her mother and the owner of a prominent funeral home; Reverend Deal, a part-time entrepeneur and part-time preacher; Tiger Shepin and Cool Charles, bartenders of the Chez; Big Arthur, the Cook (NOT the Chef, he insisted) and Shorty his assistant; Anna-May, who was the waitress and Miss Marie, the senior waitress who only waited on customers of the Chez that were customers for 20 years or more; Bubba was a lawyer who was a regular customer (Hugh Wilson said in an interview that this was the character that was a representation of him in the show, "the White guy").
There was much talent to be had in front of and behind the camera; playwright Samm-Art Williams wrote an episode, Hugh Wilson not only helped write the show, but even made a cameo; guest stars included Conchata Ferrell, the late Rosalind Cash and boxer Joe Frazier.
The show could have easily relied on humor, which it certainly had a handle on (one wonderfully absurd episode, "The Body" has the restaurant trying to deal with a pesky corpse, ala, "The Trouble With Harry"), however, it addressed many topics; relationships within the African-American community, it featured Dizzy Gillespie on one show and another one show had a strong Voodoo influence.
The most famous episode (shown on Nick at Nite's TV Land) and the most lauded was "The Bridge", which won Emmys for the writer, Hugh Wilson and guest star Beah Richards.
BET (Black Entertainment Television) re-ran the show, but has since stopped. TV Land, by all appearances has the rights to show it, but does not do so regularly.
This was a truly great show, culturally enlightening, funny, touching and always engaging. It can be said that there was not a single clunker in 17 episodes. The cast was predominately Black, however, it was a show that anyone could watch and enjoy. As Tom Shales said in a review, "This was not a "Black" show, this was a "People" show."
It is very dispiriting that such high quality entertainment is choked off as very possibly too black, but is followed by such a host of "black" shows so dumbed down, stereotypical, canned and downright silly as to only be able to aspire to mediocrity.
What a blessing it would be to be able to acquire the episodes on DVD. And/or to get the same dream team together for another stellar effort. I know the characters were only [?] fictional, but they felt so much like friends. COME BACK!!!
I had high hopes for it when BET aired it briefly, but they too unceremoniously dumped it.
I believe, at the time it was on the air, it (and "Hooperman") was called a Dramedy. Some people may have found the combination of drama and comedy unsettling. I thought it was superb!
Someone, somewhere give this show a second chance! Quality must count for something!!
I guess that's why this series had "doomed to failure" written all over it from the outset.
Tim Reid has a genuine talent although people don't seem to have many opportunities to experience it. Have a quick look at "Once Upon a Time... When We Were Colo(u)red" and you'll find yourself hooked on Reid if you have not succumbed already.
Tim Reid and Daphne M. Reid produced such a wonderful show, it calls to your attention that well written, sophisticated, intelligent television programs many times do not receive the praise and viewing slot that is necessary to make it a mega hit.
He (Todd) has all 22 episodes, and he will put them all together for you on five DVD's at the responsible price of ten (10) dollars per DVD.
Expect a very fast delivery from Todd once he receives your payment. I'm currently enjoying my Frank's Place DVD's.
So Sport Fan's , you now have it (the Frank's Place info).
Do write to Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you too will soon no longer "know what it means to miss New Orleans."
I hope that this did help all of those Frank's Place fanatics, like myself.