As long as it’s Frannie’s turn, this new sitcom from the “Cosby” team of producers glides along appealingly, propelled by actress Miriam Margolyes’ sympathetic portrayal of a fed-up housewife and professional seamstress who always manages to keep her wits–and wit–about her. But whenever any other character gets the spotlight, the show unravels, falling apart as surely and as quickly as a “Gucci” or a “Rolex” bought on one of the street corners in New York’s Garment District where Frannie supposedly works.
Most of the other roles are written as thin caricatures or, even worse, stereotypes: a loutish Cuban husband, not unlike Archie Bunker to Frannie’s Edith; Frannie’s sissy male fashion-designer boss; the sarcastic, good-for-nothing-but-backtalk teenage son in heavy metal T-shirts.
Wisely, they’re given little airtime, though Stivi Paskoski as the son, Eddie , demonstrates a fine sense of comedic timing when he is called upon to do something.
Frannie is a fabulous role, spunky, wise and embodying all the frustrations of women torn between family and furthering their careers, between struggling against the tide and going with the flow.
She’s also determined not to let her daughter make the same mistakes she did. Frannie spends most of this premiere episode trying to stop daughter Rosa (Alice Drummond) from getting married at 20, the same age Frannie tied the knot with Joe (Tomas Milian).
When Rosa replies thatshe remembers her mother as always being happy while she was growing up, Frannie thinks for a minute and replies that she thought she was happy but now she knows she wasn’t.
Wise as she is, Frannie has no comeback to Rosa’s retort that “you can’t do that, you can’t change whether or not you were happy” at any given point in time.
“Frannie’s Turn” is engaging. But if some of the other players don’t get a turn to keep the action going and the interest up, the game will be over very quickly.