Plunking down a blond, brassy Delta Burke in contemporary boomtown Nashville is not at all a bad premise for a sitcom; after all, in Designing Women, Burke specialized in devious ambition, and where better to nurture those qualities than in the music business?
But from the moment Reba McEntire starts warbling the theme song, Delta seems all wrong. First of all, if Burke’s character, bartender Delta Bishop, is an aspiring country crooner, why isn’t she herself singing the theme? Then there’s the bar where this Delta works — it’s Cheers with a poster of Wynonna Judd on the wall and without the jokes that make Cheers funny. TV veteran Earl Holliman (Police Woman) is bar owner Darden Towe; Holliman always comes across as a nice guy, but no one has given him any punch lines here.
Worst of all, Burke’s character is regularly punished for her ambition. In the second episode, for example, she goes against the wishes of Darden and approaches one of his friends, a record producer, for a backup-singer job. Darden gets angry, and Delta is repentant: ”I got so wrapped up in tryin’ to get ahead that I put it ahead of friendship.”
Oh, for gosh sakes, Delta — you think Patsy or Dolly or Tammy didn’t step on a few necks to get ahead? Where’s the greed and selfishness that made your Designing Women character such a realistic hoot? D