It started with the idea that Bubba Weisberger, the country lawyer, would rescue Chez Louisiane. It ended up being an episode of "Frank's Place" that drew 700 phone calls.

"We like Bubba and we wanted him to solve a legal problem for the restaurant," said co-executive producer Hugh Wilson, who wrote "The Bridge" episode. But legal research turned nothing more stunning on which to base such a story than a man who'd sued a restaurant after breaking a tooth on an oyster. But in California, he said, the idea of an establishment being responsible for its patrons is well known.

The episode evolved into the story of a customer who drove off a bridge after drinking at the Chez. His family sues, claiming the restaurant allowed him too much liquor and bears responsibility for his death. Weisberger investigates and discovers it was a suicide, finding the key to the case, in the person of the customer's widow, living in a black ghetto.

"We also wanted to go into the projects," said Wilson. "We wanted to show that the safety net is not in place and that a person might want to commit suicide {to reap insurance money for his family}. But I didn't want to hit it that hard. That's not the purpose of a comedy ... The story served me well."

It also spotlighted a character who is close to Wilson's heart. He resembles Robert Harper, who plays Weisberger, and has a similar laid-back manner. "Yes," said Wilson, "I think maybe he's my voice in the series -- the white guy."