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Bagdad Cafe aired on CBS from March 1990 until November 1990 on CBS.
Brenda and Jasmine ( Whoopi Goldberg, Jean Stapleton) were in their way a female " Odd Couple"- two women with seemingly incompattible personalities who became fast friends. Brenda was the owner and operator of The Bagdad Cafe diner and motel, an isolated, fleabitten rest stop in the middle of The Mojave Desert between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Jasmine had been traveling through the desert with her husband when their car broke down. The argument that followed was, for her, the last straw. She abandoned him and dragged her luggage through the desert until she staggerd into The Bagdad Cafe. With limited funds and no desire to return to her former life, Jasmine went to work for Brenda and took up residence in one of the rooms at the motel.
Jasmine was a perfect compliment to Brenda. She was very neat, structured and organized while Brenda was a disorganized slob. She was philsophical and optimistic while Brenda was a crude, loud-mouthed synic. The one thing they had in common was being seperated from their husbands-Brenda having thrown out her philandering Sal when she caught him in bed with a guest at the motel. Other regulars were Juney ( Scott Lawrence), Brenda's talented piano-playing son who served as the Diner's cook and was rasing his infant daughter Amarah; Debbie ( Monica Calhoun), Brenda's daughter who was much more interested in boys then in her schoolwork; and Rudy ( James Gammon), a regular at the diner who took a fancy to Jasmine. When Bagdad Cafe returned for it's second season in the fall of 1990, Rudy's nervous nephew Dewey ( Sam Whipple), unable to cope with a high-stressed job in the space industry arrived and took over as the diner's cook. Juney had departed to seek his fortune, leaving Brenda with the additional burden of rasing her granddaughter.
Whoopi Goldberg abruptly left the show after the first 9 episodes of the fall 1990 season and the show immediately sputtered to a halt.This sitcom was adapted from the theatrical film of the same name with Monica Calhoun reprising her role as Debbie.
A Review From The New Your Times
Open Season on Husbands as Comedy Stars Return
By JOHN J. O'CONNOR
Published: March 30, 1990
Two of television's most successful comedy actresses are returning to the grind of a weekly schedule. Jean Stapleton, for years the dizzy but shrewd mate to Archie Bunker on ''All in the Family,'' can be seen tonight at 9 o'clock on CBS's ''Bagdad Cafe,'' based on the 1988 Percy Adlon movie. Her co-star is Whoopi Goldberg. Tomorrow at 9:30 P.M. on NBC, Carol Burnett offers a ''special sneak preview'' of ''Carol and Company,'' an anthology series featuring a new comic sketch each week.
As a movie, ''Bagdad Cafe'' was a genial study of oddball characters, almost as if William Saroyan's ''Time of Your Life'' were transplanted West to an isolated setting in the Mojave Desert. Now, done up by Mort Lachman, Sy Rosen and Zev Braun as a typical sitcom, it has become a vehicle for wisecracks and a soundtrack that goes ''aaahhh'' whenever the camera focuses on a cute infant. Ms. Stapleton is Jasmine, who simply walks away from her husband in the middle of the desert when their car breaks down and his blood pressure rises dangerously. ''You promised me for 25 years you were going to die,'' she tells him, ''well, I'm sick of waiting.'' This is not a good season, it seems, for husbands.
Ms. Goldberg is Brenda, proprietor of the Bagdad Cafe and its adjoining motel. The cantankerous Brenda has a sexy teen-age daughter (Monica Calhoun) who's wild for good-looking clods and a musician son (Scott Lawrence) who looks after his daughter (that's where the adorable infant comes in). Brenda's husband is Sal (Cleavon Little). This one is quickly dumped when Brenda finds him in bed with another woman. Enter dusty Jasmine, lugging her suitcases and looking for a room.
Excitable Brenda and gentle Jasmine - she does magic tricks in her spare time - are opposites but clearly meant for each other in prime-time's world of insult humor. The stars seem to be enjoying themselves immensely, and Paul Bogart, a sitcom miracle worker, directs the first episode with enough aplomb to qualify himself as a master illusionist.
A Review from Entertainment Weekly
(CBS, FRI., MARCH 30, 9-9:30 P.M.)
By Ken Tucker
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 ut 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
A Review from the Los Angeles Times
Goldberg, Stapleton Team in 'Bagdad Cafe'
March 30, 1990|HOWARD ROSENBERG
Whoopi Goldberg and Jean Stapleton are a match made in desert--parched and barren.
Their ample individual talents don't really mesh in "Bagdad Cafe," a new CBS comedy series based on and named after the theatrical movie "Bagdad Cafe." It premieres at 9 tonight on Channels 2 and 8, followed by another new comedy, "Sugar and Spice," which was not available for preview.
"Bagdad Cafe" finds Goldberg as Brenda, the agitated operator of an isolated roadside diner, motel and gas station in the Mojave Desert where the clientele is a sort of "Separate Tables" with tumbleweed.
Also on hand are her 16-year-old daughter, her musician son and, briefly tonight, her philandering husband, Sal (Cleavon Little). He is also the cook, sweating in the kitchen behind a wall of steam and his own cigarette smoke.
Early in the episode, Sal storms out after an argument with Brenda, which is a shame because their volatile exchanges are the only glints of humor in this first episode. Although Sal will resurface from time to time, it's Jasmine (Stapleton) who is meant to be Brenda's comedic partner, arriving on the scene after abandoning her obnoxiously tyrannical husband when their car breaks down in the desert.
Goldberg works hard and Brenda is the kind of likable, energetic character on whom a comedy can be built. However, the awkward budding friendship between Brenda and the well-meaning, super-tidy Jasmine not only doesn't click tonight, it yields no laughs. More than merely an unlikely pairing, they're an arid one.
An Article From Entertainment Weekly
Pop Culture News
By Mark Harris
Mark Harris is a writer and former executive editor of EW.
With her movie career resuscitated thanks to Ghost and the upcoming Long Walk Home, Whoopi Goldberg didn't waste any time bidding farewell to CBS' struggling sitcom Bagdad Cafe. As executive producer Kenneth Kaufman heard the tale, Goldberg simply called network president Jeff Sagansky late in , November and announced she was quitting-effective immediately. With no time to recast her role, CBS shut down Cafe so quickly it didn't even have time to remove the Nov. 30 show's listing from TV Guide. Her walkout came as little surprise to insiders, who say the actress had been in increasingly fierce and abusive clashes with Cafe's creative team. Goldberg had no comment about her decision, letting contracts speak louder than words: Within days of her departure, she signed a film deal with Paramount.
Posted Dec 21, 1990 | Published in issue #45 Dec 21, 1990
To watch an episode of Bagdad Cafe go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5cUy1Acir8
For the official Facebook Page of Whoopi Goldberg https://www.facebook.com/whoopigoldberg/
For some Bagdad Cafe-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to https://interviews.televisionacademy.com/shows/bagdad-caf%C3%A9
To watch the opening credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91dbRyhANBs
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Keywords: Whoopi Goldberg & Jean Stapleton (Links Updated 7/24/18)