"Frank's Place" served delicious TV

“Frank’s Place” was a groundbreaking TV comedy that aired for one brilliant season on CBS in the late 80s. It was a critical smash but a ratings dud, and it vanished trailing a raft of awards in its wake. 

The premise was that Frank, an African American college professor from Boston (played by series executive producer and WKRP veteran Tim Reid), inherits his father’s Creole restaurant in New Orleans. Story lines about Frank’s fish-out-of-water New Orleans experiences were certainly one of the first and still one of the few TV portrayals of African American society that were anything other than monochromatic. (Literally. One episode concerned a men’s social club that wouldn’t admit members whose skin was darker than a paper bag, as Frank’s was.)

It was a very funny, smart show, shot single camera style with no laugh track (revolutionary then, common today), where episodes rarely ended with tidy conclusions. Instead, viewers would be left to think for themselves, a deadly proposition for a network television show to this day. 

Here’s a perfect overview from the Museum of Broadcast Communications. 

Evidently because of problems with music rights, the show has never been released on video. All I could find was the title sequence below. Not only does it make me miss New Orleans, it makes me miss “Frank’s Place” more than ever.