By Ken Tucker
Updated May 22, 1992 at 04:00 AM EDT

As Jack Evans, the owner of a swanky big-city restaurant and bar called Jack’s Place, Hal Linden wears better suits than he ever did on Barney Miller, but he has also acquired a show far inferior to Barney. Based on the two episodes I’ve seen, it looks as if Jack’s Place is going to be a cross between Cheers and The Love Boat: Jack and his staff — a cocky cocktail waitress played by Finola Hughes (General Hospital) and John Dye (Tour of Duty) as an earnest young bartender — welcome guests and become involved in their lives for an hour each week. Like Cheers, Jack’s Place is supposed to be a warm, inviting establishment; ”The whole idea is to make people feel this is just another room in their house,” says Jack. And like The Love Boat, Jack’s Place specializes in weekly guest stars who stop by, fall in love or bicker, and then leave, never to be seen again.

In the debut episode, for example, Linda Purl (Under Cover) appears as a Jack’s Place cook who launches an affair with a struggling artist (Trevor Eve). By the end of the episode, Purl has quit her job and gone off to Paris to live with her free-spirited painter. In a comic subplot, Jack sells his old car and then spends the rest of the show trying to get it back — he finds that the jalopy holds too many memories for him to give it up.

Drearily sentimental and banal, Jack’s Place is a surprisingly dumb piece of work overseen by executive producer Scott Brazil, who has worked on smart shows like Hill Street Blues, The White Shadow, and most recently, WIOU. Linden strolls through the restaurant as he does this show: exuding charm, smiling at the customers, but looking empty-eyed and distracted, as if he’d rather be back in the kitchen, sampling the soup. C-