It continues to wear third-place Nielsen ratings like a horse collar, but credit ABC with at least exploring some interesting side streets, from "thirtysomething" to "The 'Slap' Maxwell Story."
The latest off-center twist is "The Thorns," a promising, somewhat dark comedy series from Mike Nichols arriving at 9 tonight on Channels 7, 3 10 and 42 as part of a Friday night schedule shift that drops "The Pursuit of Happiness" from the ABC lineup.
Literate and urbane, "The Thorns" pursues laughs with a family that does for parenting what the Bakkers did for ministering. Taped in New York, the setting is a swank Manhattan townhouse occupied by the social-climbing Sloan and Ginger Thorn (Tony Roberts and Kelly Bishop) and their three kids, a grouchy French maid, a street-tough mother's helper and Sloan's earthy Brooklyn mother, Rose (Marilyn Cooper).
Rose goes to live with them after her house burns down, throwing a kink in a fund-raising bash thrown by Sloan and Ginger for typically self-serving reasons.