'Work It' is a real drag

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COMEDY PREMIERE "Work It"

WHEN | WHERE Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. on ABC/7

REASON TO WATCH Proceed at your own risk.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Times are hard in St. Louis, so when unemployed dad and family man Lee Standish (Benjamin Koldyke) gets a big medical bill, he's forced to take drastic measures -- dress up as a woman to land a gig in sales at a pharmaceutical firm. Why a woman? Why pharmaceutical sales? Because as one character explains, they're the only ones the doctors want to . . . umm, well, you know. Lee has to withstand gibes from some of the office mean girls, like Grace (Rebecca Mader, "Lost"), but otherwise the scam works. In fact, it works so well his other unemployed pal, Angel (Amaury Nolasco, Sucre of "Prison Break") dresses up for success, too.

MY SAY The story about "Bosom Buddies" -- Tom Hanks' bad dream from the early '80s -- is that when the show's producers turned up at ABC to pitch the series, they said they wanted to channel the spirit of Billy Wilder's "Some Like It Hot." An excited executive thought this meant the show would be about cross-dressing, and -- just like that -- Hanks walked through his first on-screen job in pumps. There was a reason he left TV as fast as his agent could get him out; take your belated bow, "Bosom Buddies." Like that dinosaur, "Work It" is just about as subtle as you'd expect -- a knuckle-dragging sitcom that parlays racial and gender stereotypes about as adroitly as a chimp parlays Chekhov. A couple of the lines are surprisingly offensive, and a couple others even surprisingly amusing. But with too many of the former, and too few of the latter, you may actually experience an odd sensation of guilt to even consider laughing.

BOTTOM LINE New year. Inauspicious start.

GRADE C-

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