Hal Linden’s summer series tumbles out of the tradition of cute and/or heartwarming tales connected by a central theme–i.e., “Jack’s Place,” restaurant owned and benevolently operated by Jack Evans (Linden). With Finola Hughes as waitress Chelsea Duffy, John Dye as bartender Greg Toback, series kicks off as soft, gooey and contrived.
Jack’s main concern in the first episode is his old Cadillac. Otherwise, he’s father confessor to secondary characters as they go about resolving situations.
Chelsea’s ex has grabbed their pet animal and won’t relinquish; single dad Greg can’t rent a certain house without a wife. Writers Daphne Pollon and David Castro solve their minor dilemmas without strain.
Linda Purl’s in for the opening chapter playing an underchef at Jack’s. She meets neighbor Trevor Eve, painter who wants to go back to Paris, where, of course, Purl wants to go cook. Pollon and Castro are up to building an unlikely ending, which they boldly do.
Director Kristoffer Tabori pulls a few happier hijinks from the bland, computerized material, and actress Hughes makes waitress Chelsea a particular attraction. Linden, left with little to do, does it.
What could have been a charming hour has been frittered away with thin characters, simple plights and obvious solutions; at least the laugh machines weren’t plugged in.
Tech credits are OK.