Lay Off The Repartee

TELEVISION REVIEW

October 18, 1991|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic

There is one thing of value in the debut of "Palace Guard," the last new show of the fall TV season, which airs at 9 tonight on WBAL-TV (Channel 11). Coming as it does after the Clarence Thomas hearings, its relentlessly knuckleheaded dialogue raises questions about our attitudes toward sex-edged badinage between co-workers on television.

What do you think -- is what follows very-very-very low-rent Dave and Maddie from "Moonlighting" or a kind of on-the-job sexual harassment?

Here's the set up: A man and a woman are working together. She's the head of public relations for a big hotel chain; he's the head of security. They are off together in Acapulco trying to solve a murder. Technically, she's his supervisor, but she does not have the power to fire him. If she wants to keep her job, she must get along with him.

She says, "There are going to be some rules here."

He says, "How about I just kiss the end of your nose now?"

At another point, she finds him in the hot tub of the presidential suite of one of the chain's hotels and orders him out of the suite.

He replies, "You want to strip naked and get in with me?"

Next, she orders him not to go into a certain building because she thinks it's dangerous.

"You going to stop me, Peaches," he says before ignoring her order.

As they say on TV, you be the judge. But, I'll tell you that kind of interplay is pretty much all that goes on for the full two hours of "Palace Guard," and it's mighty tedious.

D. W. Moffett plays Tommy Logan, the head of security, who says all these things to Christy Cooper, the head of public relations, played by Marcy Walker. The thing that is supposed to bTC be so cool about Logan and the show is that he's a former jewel thief who served time in Attica and is now this really deep, spiritual guy.

And Cooper, see, initially has this stuck-up attitude toward her co-worker because he's an ex-con. But after two hours of flat-out verbal aggression from him, of course, she starts to really admire him. She thinks he's neat.

I think most viewers are going to label Tommy Logan a jerk and never watch "Palace Guard" again after tonight. But, after watching it, I also think we should all rethink our attitudes toward such TV shows that deal with workplace relationships, sex, power and gender. Even Maddie and Dave seem considerably less charming now.

"How about I kiss the end of your nose now?" is not the correct response when your boss tells you there are going to be some rules.

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