Dana Palladino (Annie Potts) comes bursting on the scene early in the second-season premiere of “Love & War,” and — no offense to the departed Susan Dey — the suddenly missing Wally Porter becomes a rapidly fading memory. Episode, written by series creator Diane English and brightly directed by Michael Lembeck, gets the show off the ground like a guided missile; series’ future has never seemed more secure.
Porter, owner of the Blue Shamrock restaurant and bar, has moved without warning to Paris, leaving the eatery to bartender Abe Johnson (Charlie Robinson) and ex-fiance Jack Stein (Jay Thomas) to the Fates. Without a cook, the restaurant is in turmoil until the door opens and Palladino virtually bursts in, quickly taking over the kitchen.
She’s as sour on men (having been passed over for promotion from sous-chef at another restaurant in favor of a less-qualified male) as Jack now is on women. The only question is how long English can stave off their doing the Wild Thing; best bet is, a ratings period.
English and Potts have created a real character in Palladino. Far removed from Southerner Mary Jo Shively on “Designing Women,” Potts speaks with a New York accent that’s a softened-down combination of Cyndi Lauper and Amy Fisher.
The rest of the cast remains intact: Robinson, now management, suddenly hates Bill Clinton (“Tax and spend, tax and spend … I like that nice Bob Dole; why doesn’t anybody listen to him?”) There’s also Joanna Gleason as ditzy waitress Nadine Berkus; Michael Nouri as Porter’s ex-hubby, a self-involved actor; and Joel Murray and Suzie Plaxton as a couple of Blue Shamrock regulars.