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Mid-season merry-go-round: ABC's Work It a dog in women's clothing

Take it from Work It: He's not heavy, he's my bra-ther. ABC photo

Premiering: Tuesday, Jan. 3rd at 7:30 p.m. (central) on ABC
Starring: Ben Koldyke, Amaury Nolasco, Beth Lacke, Rochelle Aytes, John Caparulo, Kirstin Eggers, Rebecca Mader, Kate Reinders, Hannah Sullivan
Produced by: Andrew Reich, Ted Cohen

The statute of limitations perhaps has passed on comparisons to Bosom Buddies, the ABC sitcom that gave
Tom Hanks his start back way back in 1980.

After all, any self-respecting network is allowed to house a men-in-drag comedy every 30 years or so. So here's Work It, in which a pair of unemployed guys try to pull off a Tootsie maneuver in hopes of beating a rampant "mancession." Damn those women.

There's one big run in the panty hose, though. It's impossible to believe that anyone -- particularly a female executive -- would mistake either of these dudes for a woman during their job interviews. Other than that . . .

Out-of-work salesman Lee Standish (Ben Koldyke) takes the first plunge after being unemployed for a year. His wife, Connie (Beth Lacke) remains eerily cheery. But Lee is spurred to action after learning that a $900 prostate exam isn't being covered by his newly lapsed health insurance.

His desperation is further flamed by a corpulent drinking buddy named Brian (John Caparulo), who drops "mancession" into the conversation while they're joined in knocking down beers by the likewise out-of-work Angel Ortiz (Amaury Nolasco), who had been a mechanic.

"When the women take over, they'll make pride illegal," Brian carps. "That and eating on the toilet."

While trying to digest that bottom-of-the-barrel line, you might also wonder how Lee, Brian and Angel can still afford to regularly drink at a bar. Particularly in light of an earlier scene in which Lee cuts off his teen daughter's cell phone to save money.

Lee's been apprised, though, that a pharmaceutical company is hiring sales women. He's soon giving it a shot, donning a skirt, wig and makeup to sit among women applicants and thank one of them for letting him bum a tampon. His voice inflections and overall camouflage job are about as convincing as Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher doing commercials for Summer's Eve.

But Lee preposterously gets the job anyway, telling Angel about his good fortune without filling in the particulars.

"I'm Puerto Rican. I'd be great at selling drugs," Angel rejoins in a line that eventually might prompt a protest from LULAC.

Angel's miffed, though, when Lee says he can't go to bat for him. He ends up working the counter at Astro Taco before Lee finally fills him in. It's then presto change-o, with a newly high-heeled Angel breaking the ice during his interview by telling the pharmaceutical company boss lady, "Your ass looks tight in those pants."

She looks only mildly miffed. And Angel ends up getting hired after he fixes her car. Plausibility has long left the building at this point, and has been ordered to take a long rest.

Replacing the canceled Man Up!, and following Last Man Standing on Tuesdays, Work It may prompt a grin or two with its initial sight gags. And Koldyke isn't lacking in effort or enthusiasm when it comes to getting all dressed up. That's not nearly enough to hold this thing together, though. Toot toot tootsie goodbye.

GRADE: C-minus