Rarely has a bad sitcom been better acted than Bagdad Cafe. Executive producer Zev Braun — who saw the movie Platoon, watered it down, and turned it into Tour of Duty — now has bought the rights to the 1988 Percy Adlon movie about outcasts on the outskirts of Las Vegas.
Instead of watering it down, Braun has pumped it up, with stars Whoopi Goldberg and Jean Stapleton. Too bad Braun didn’t hire writers who would give them the sorts of sharp lines the movie had.
Whoopi Goldberg plays Brenda, owner of the rundown Bagdad Cafe and Motel.
At the start of this debut episode, she finds her husband fooling around and throws him out of the show — but just for this week. And that’s good, because guest star Cleavon Little is terrific as a bristly-bearded weasel.
Stapleton plays Jasmine, a middle-class housewife so fed up with her obnoxious husband that she abandons him while they’re driving through the desert.
On foot and headed vaguely for Vegas, Jasmine stumbles on Brenda’s cafe/ motel and, having nothing better to do, decides to stick around and help out.
Goldberg avoids her most annoying mannerisms, and Stapleton does the impossible — she makes you forget Edith Bunker.
But with exchanges such as ”Am I disturbing you?” ”Too late — I’m already disturbed,” this is one doomed odd couple. C