'Work It' premiere review: So bad, you felt a little sorry for it?

Work It made its sad little debut on Tuesday tonight, for a half-hour that ABC might have given over to coverage of the Iowa caucuses. Not that ABC deserves any special criticism in that latter regard — NBC might have saved the Republic two hours of idiocy if it hadn’t aired the 13th season premiere of The Biggest Loser.

Still, there’s no denying this was one lousy sitcom. Work It uses the same premise as the ’80s’ Bosom Buddies — two guys, due to lack of money, impersonate women to get by — but fails to allow its stars the freedom to transcend that dull premise. Koldyke and Nolasco were trapped reciting lines like “Thanks for the tampon” and “I’m not your ordinary girl.” With Bosom Buddies, you always had the feeling that that Chris Thompson, Thomas Miller, and Bob Boyett creation left room in its scripts for Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari to improvise a bit, even if it was just a slow burn or a double-take or some slapstick playing off the cross-dressing.

Work It is also a victim of the current trend in sitcoms to try and coin comic phrases in the manner of the network’s own Happy Endings. Thus a solid stand-up comic, John Caparulo, is cast as a schlub named Brian who utters the line “It’s not a recession, it’s a man-cession.” That unoriginal phrase hasn’t really caught on widely yet; let’s see what happens after its delivery on Work It.

This show was supposed to be a bridge between Tim Allen’s guy’s-guy sitcom Last Man Standing preceding it and Celebrity Wife Swap (look — as TV Guide phrased it — “Ted Haggard’s pious wife goes to Gary Busey’s household”!); that’s an unenviable, weird time-period squeeze.

The kindest interpretation to give Work It is that its premise is also operating in the real world that surrounds it: That in our poor economy, even good actors have to take what work they can get, each hoping that one day, he or she will transcend this vehicle to become a Tom Hanks, or a Peter Scolari, or a Holland Taylor, or a (much-missed, late) Wendie Jo Sperber. I say this without sarcasm: Good luck to the Work It cast.

If you watched Work It, I wonder how you felt it worked for you. Like it, dislike it, kinda feel sorry for it?

Twitter: @kentucker

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