A kiss is still just a kiss

February 11, 1991|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic

An hourlong retrospective on great screen kisses?

That's what cable's TNT channel is offering tonight at 8 p.m. and again at 11.

If it seems to you that TV has been feeding a lot lately on the carcass of its own past -- with clip-shows, such as NBC's "Sunday Best," specials celebrating 100 or 200 epsiodes of on-going shows, and reunions of shows that are no more -- you are right.

But this is another level of video-and-vulture. This is Ted Turner, the owner of TNT, rummaging through his Hollywood film library for scenes involving kisses, getting Lauren Bacall to host and selling it as a "celebration" of love for Valentine's.

The strange thing is that it almost works. Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, Bacall and Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh: For about the first 20 minutes, it is engrossing to skip visually from kiss to kiss. It's fun to watch.

But at some point, you will start to hear the words of the crackpot script Bacall is reading from. And you will realize what an artificial concoction -- whipped up to fill an hour of programming at virtually no cost -- this is.

By the end of the hour, you will probably be sick of hearing the lyric, "A kiss is just a kiss." It is sung over and over until you fear such excessive recycling may ultimately come to make us loath some of the most cherished moments of our shared past.

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