Times Staff Writer

You've got to like cantankerousness to enjoy "The Redd Foxx Show." That's what Foxx plays.

It worked well enough in "Sanford and Son," but, in his new ABC comedy series, premiering Saturday at 8 p.m. (Channels 7, 3, 10 and 42), it doesn't jibe with the premise.

Foxx is cast as Al Hughes, a widower who lives above the small coffee shop and newsstand that he owns in New York City, with one cook-waitress (Rosana De Soto) in his employ. In the first episode, he's asked by a social worker to take in a teen-ager who's in danger of going to prison.

This is supposed to be something that Hughes and his late wife had done many times before, with great success. "You've got a gift for helping people believe in themselves," the cook reminds him.

A gift? If so, it's well-wrapped.

"You and me got a personality problem," he tells the kid. "What's the problem?" the kid asks. "Your personality," says Hughes.

Deft touch.

Yet you know they're going to wind up liking each other, because in the land of the sitcom, surliness is nothing more than a defense to cover loneliness and vulnerability. What TV kid can't melt that? Just ask Punky Brewster.

Still, Redd Foxx as a lovable old geezer? He's got the old and geezer parts down pat, but two out of three isn't good enough.

The premiere was written by Bob Comfort and Rick Kellard and directed by Dave Powers.

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