Work It

Some like it hot, but more like it funny. By either or any standard, ABC's atrocious Work It fails miserably.

An instant early candidate for Worst Show of 2012, this ham-fisted drag-farce sitcom (8:30/7:30c) desecrates the memory of '80s guilty pleasure Bosom Buddies (not to mention '60s comedy classic Some Like It Hot and the peerless Tootsie) in its desperately overdone attempt to be timely, as it depicts two chronically unemployed guys (Ben Koldyke and Prison Break's Amaury Nolasco) masquerading as women — about as convincingly as putting lipstick on a pig — to score jobs as pharmaceutical reps. They mince and bounce frantically while an office full of apparently sight-impaired female co-stars, shrill caricatures in their own right, gossip and titter.

The cornball premise that assumes the sight of men wobbling on high heels and fretting over their panty lines is a scream — it certainly agitates the laugh track — has struck a politically correct nerve with organizations like GLAAD, which feels the show is insulting to transgender people. GLAAD should learn when to pick its battles. Work It is insulting to anyone of any gender with half a brain and a lick of taste. Ignoring it is the best revenge.

What this show needs is a RuPaul intervention. And a rewrite.

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DESIGNING NOT-QUITE-WOMAN:
Here's the high concept of ABC Family's Jane By Design (9/8c) in a nutshell: "Do I continue to work at my fashion dream job or do I return to a life of high-school obscurity? What should I do?" Jane Quimby (the doe-eyed Erica Dasher) is joking, of course. She's going to keep a jauntily clad foot in both worlds, even if it kills her — and even if we die of boredom in the process.

The devil wears baby powder in this toothless hourlong teen-com, which features Andie MacDowell (channeling Madeleine Stowe's frozen-by-Botox grimace) as Jane's icy dragon-lady boss, shown mostly on video remote from various corners of the globe she's scouring for fashionable accessories. Jane gets the job as her assistant — part-time, which makes no sense — when she's mistaken as an adult while applying for a high-school internship. She accepts in part because she needs the dough, being newly parentless and living with a big brother who's currently unemployed — and apparently unwilling to strap on a girdle to find work.

If stealing from The Devil Wears Prada wasn't enough, there are also echoes of the far superior Ugly Betty in the workplace (including an evil co-worker out for Andie's job) and Pretty in Pink at school, where Jane hangs with a faux-hawked hipster misfit best bud who somehow isn't named Duckie. In the first episode, Jane risks missing a vital midterm if she attends a critical meeting called by her boss's rival. In the second episode, once again double-booked, she races back and forth between a high-fashion preview party and the school's winter formal, where she's scored a date with the jock she has long pined for (shades of MTV's awesome Awkward, though this is merely inept). Guess whose self-constructed party dress ends up on the runway? If only it all weren't so synthetic. How long before Jane has to choose between graduation and a cover shoot? Hoping for better later this week when Project Runway: All Stars premieres.

WHAT ELSE IS ON? CBS' hit lineup is all new, starting with NCIS (8/7c), which brings the MIA E.J. Barrett (Sarah Jane Morris) back into the picture, which will either delight or dismay the show's fans. ... It's Little Nell's (Renee Felice Smith) turn in the spotlight on NCIS: LA (9/8c), when the young analyst goes undercover as the replacement of a murdered DOD researcher. And Hetty's leadership comes under scrutiny by the new Assistant Director (Miguel Ferrer). ... ABC Family's best series, Switched at Birth (8/7c), resumes its first season after a daylong marathon (starting at 11am/10c) of nine episodes from last summer. Tensions are high as Daphne and Bay continue to fight over Emmett, while Bay insists on another meeting with her skeevy biological dad (Gilles Marini). ... Recipe for disaster: a Braverman road trip on NBC's Parenthood (10/9c), initiated by Zeek as he organizes a caravan to surprise his mother (Frances Sternhagen) on her birthday. Look for lots of revealing family dynamics, none more emotionally loaded than Kristina's continuing struggle to discipline Max.

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