Picks and Pans Review: Linc's

Showtime (Saturdays, 10 p.m. ET)

Strong, opinionated, middle-aged, conservative and black, Russell Lincoln (“as Republican as Abraham,” he avowed in the Aug. 1 premiere) is the proprietor of a Washington, D.C., bar and grill and the dynamic central character of this sitcom. Played with confidence by Steven Williams (X on The X-Files), “Line” commands attention even when the show seems undecided whether to go for intelligent commentary or to settle for pungent repartee. Creator-executive producer Tim Reid, best known as an actor on such series as Frank’s Place and WKRP in Cincinnati, fills Line’s place with a cross section of African-Americans, from fat-cat lobbyist Johnnie (Georg Stanford Brown) to glamorous liberal activist Eleanor (Jackie Brown’s Pam Grier) to friendly hooker Eartha (Reid’s wife, Daphne Maxwell Reid). When the patrons take a break from debating racial and political issues, they gossip about Line: Will he pursue unhappily married Eleanor? Can he handle the news that his daughter Rosalee (Tisha Campbell), an Army lieutenant, may be a lesbian? We want to spend more time with the Line’s crowd, if they’ll ease up on the sarcastic jousting and just talk to one another now and then.

Bottom Line: Could develop into a capital comedy

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