That voice! Fran Drescher is back on television


10:30 p.m. today, TV Land

"I love her voice," says Fran's date, in TV Land's new sitcom, "Happily Divorced," which premieres today.

"Give it time," says her ex-husband.

It has been a while since we've had Fran Drescher and her lovable honk in a sitcom. "The Nanny" closed down in 1999.

It's like a long-lost lullaby when Fran rolls over in bed at the top of the show and asks her anxious husband, "Whatsa mattah, Peetah?"

What's the matter is that he has finally concluded he is gay.

"Happily Divorced" will chronicle the lives of Fran and Peter, too broke to move out of their house, after this moment. There are many possible pitfalls, not the least of which is that the show could just be one agonizing gay joke.

But since Drescher and her real ex-husband, Peter Marc Jacobson, who did get divorced after he realized he was gay, are the executive producers, that doesn't happen.

Drescher looks great, and she's basically her old "Nanny" self. Nobody would accuse her of being an accomplished actress. But she delivers a joke just fine.

John Michael Higgins ("Best in Show") is Peter. Tichina Arnold ("Everybody Hates Chris") is Fran's best friend.

The show signals that there's a little more going on than the usual frantic search for jokes when D.W. Moffett shows up as Fran's first post-divorce date. Moffett, a straight actor, broke ground in the '80s playing compelling gay characters in the original production of "The Normal Heart" off-Broadway and "Early Frost" on TV.

"Happily Divorced," full of old-fashioned laughs and cast members, completes a comedy marriage made by clever programmers that shows signs of lasting past the honeymoon.