February 01, 1988 12:00 PM

ABC (Fridays, 9 p.m. ET)


They’re almost as rich as the real-life Bill Cosby, but they’re nothing like he is on TV. Thank goodness. No, they’re more like a high-demographic version of The Tortellis or the Bundys from Married…With Children. They’re unslick and slightly sick, and that’s why I think I’ll love them. The Thorns stars Tony (every other Woody Allen movie) Roberts and Kelly Bishop as a noxiously well-to-do Manhattan couple who care only about appearances. If you were looking for dirt in Dallas or vice in Miami on the Friday night that The Thorns premiered, then you missed sicker sins here—a TV dad having the family dog killed so it wouldn’t bark and ruin the TV mom’s party. (What’s most shocking about this sickcom is that it comes from Mike Nichols, a co-creator of that 1976 gushfest Family.) The Thorns could stand a little more work in the plot department, but it has a great bunch of characters. Mary Louise Wilson as the growling maid Toinette is the best French joke on the screen since Inspector Clouseau. And Roberts and Bishop are not completely unsympathetic (only 99 percent so). The Thorns is more than fresh and funny. It is a symptom of a new, healthier America. Here, at long last, is a show that takes the passion of the ’80s—greed—and turns it into an object of humor and derision. Bravo.

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