Damon Wayans and David Alan Grier are two of the most talented performers on all of television.
But you would never know that from watching the pilot of "Damon," the new Fox sitcom starring Wayans and Grier that premieres tomorrow night. The trajectory of their television careers has been downward since "In Living Color." Let's hope this is rock bottom.
Wayans plays a Chicago police detective who regularly goes undercover in various disguises. Grier is his older brother, a timid home-security officer making $2.50 an hour who dreams of joining his brother on the force. Andrea Martin ("SCTV") plays Wayans' commanding officer.
The pilot opens with Wayans dressed as a pimp trying to bust the owner of an escort service. Accompanying Wayans is a woman whom he identifies as one of his prostitutes.
I can't do much more in a family newspaper than suggest the kind of language Wayans uses and the movements the woman makes. Well, let me put it this way: The first few minutes of "Damon" make the former Fox sitcom "Martin" seem positively refined.
And it gets more offensive as the show slithers on.
The very next scene finds Wayans back at the office, where Martin announces a seminar on sexual harassment -- attendance mandatory.
"I hope it's a how-to seminar," Wayans' character says.
In case that's not offensive enough, he and a male co-worker then start dancing in a mock-effeminate manner, singing, "Don't touch me here/I won't touch you there."
But it is only a warm-up for the actual seminar, in which the instructor and the concept of sexual harassment itself are relentlessly mocked.
"No woman should be uncomfortable in the workplace," the instructor says.
"I agree. That's why there should be a pillow on every desk," Wayans' character replies.
And that's one of his milder lines -- about the only one I can cite. Some of the others border on sexual assault.
"Damon" is stupid, vile and sexist. I think it's homophobic and racist, too.
I supposed I could blame the racism on the big-name white producers, Tom Werner and Marcy Carsey, who have given us "Roseanne" among other hit sitcoms.
But I think the lot of them -- Fox, Wayans, Grier, Carsey and Werner -- all ought to be ashamed of themselves for "Damon." Let's hope it dies a quick, midseason death before it teaches too many of Wayans' young fans that sexism and ignorance are cool.
When: 8: 30 p.m.-9 p.m. tomorrow
Where: Fox (WBFF, Channel 45)
Pub Date: 3/21/98