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TV CAN'T KEEP ITS PANTS ON.

Byline: David Kronke Television Writer

Workplace romances, we've all heard (or learned firsthand), are a bad idea.

Long before any sort of bad behavior could be transformed by a cunning litigator into a sexual-harassment lawsuit (just ask the some of the ``Friends'' writing staff, currently facing just such a suit), interoffice liaisons were commonly understood to be vexing distractions to all - except to those engaged in them, who usually found them to be something much worse.

TV characters somehow routinely prove to be far more mindlessly libidinal than your average human being. Perhaps it's a function of existing within a finite world in which there are generally fewer than eight recurring characters. Or it's because everyone is so darn physically perfect that it's nearly impossible to keep one's clothing on. Or maybe these characters must serve as surrogates for the rest of us and enjoy the tantalizing sessions of groping and smooching that the rest of us are generally denied.

Whatever. It seems a lot of television characters tend to dally freely with their professional colleagues. Duly noting that workplace romances frequently spell doom - at least for a TV show's popularity (remember ``Moonlighting''?) - we present a select list of prime-time's current couplings.

Our most brazen show in this regard currently has to be NBC's ``Las Vegas'': Our young hero, casino fixer/security guy Danny McCoy (Josh Duhamel), was introduced in flagrante with his boss's daughter (Molly Sims), who soon joined the payroll. But Danny wasn't content to let it rest there; he was variously flirting with, being propositioned by, or dating, many other young lovely co-workers (Nikki Cox, Vanessa Marcil, Marsha Thomason).

Apparently, Vegas' main drag isn't called ``the Strip'' for nothing.

Other shows seek to out-Danny Danny and become the new Real McCoy. To wit:

NBC's upcoming ``LAX'' proffers two folks competing to control the airport (Blair Underwood, Heather Locklear) who have trysted in the past.

Fox's ``North Shore'' offers a similar dynamic: Two top executives at a Hawaii resort (Kristoffer Polaha, Brooke Burns) have crested one another's undulating waves.

Love is the drug on NBC's ``ER,'' which has offered such a revolving door of romance - Anthony Edwards and Alex Kingston, George Clooney and Julianna Margulies, Noah Wyle and Maura Tierney, just for starters - that it's amazing these randy doctors and nurses have found time to save any lives.

Likewise, the characters in the network's ``Scrubs'' frequently pursue uplift more amorous than medicinal: Last year, Turk (Donald Faison) and Carla (Judy Reyes) married after a prolonged romance; J.D. (Zach Braff) and Elliot's (Sarah Chalke) fitful relationship hasn't fared so well, but don't count them out yet.

ABC's ``NYPD Blue'' is nearly as wantonly incestuous - after many, many sundry relationships in the precinct, Sipowicz (Dennis Franz) and McDowell (Charlotte Ross) have procreated, for better or worse.

CBS' ``Without a Trace'' suggested that Jack (Anthony LaPaglia) and Samantha (Poppy Montgomery) had a history and that Martin (Eric Close) is more than happy to replace Jack where Sam's investigations are concerned.

In UPN's upcoming ``Kevin Hill,'' the charismatic title character (Taye Diggs) has scored with most of New York's eligible women, including new co-worker Jessie (Michael Michele). Chances are he'll get around to the rest of the cast - and the rest of New York's available pulchritude - pretty quickly.

The WB's upcoming ``Jack and Bobby'' concerns teens in their formative years who are slated to become politicians serving an American halcyon, but their mother, a college professor (Christine Lahti), spends much of the first episode meeting cute with her school's new dean (John Slattery).

Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford) is to ``The West Wing'' what Danny McCoy is to ``Las Vegas'' - a nice guy who gets too lucky with the help. (This being a Democratic White House, Josh should probably be president). In the first season, he recruited former paramour Mandy (Moira Kelly); more recently, he finally renounced allegiance to anyone but Donna (Janel Maloney). Also, press attache C.J. (Allison Janney) enjoyed a brief bipartisan dalliance with reporter Danny Concannon (Timothy Busfield).

Fox's ``Arrested Development'' is a hotbed of bad behavior. Gob (the character, played by Will Arnett, who pronounces his name ``Job,'' though God knows he hasn't suffered ever) is a self-centered magician who has ensured that his assistants spend more time making things arise than disappear. Worse, family patriarch George (Emmy nominee Jeffrey Tambor) has enjoyed a relationship with his comely secretary that Gob is more than willing to usurp (if she keeps her eyeglasses on and hairpin intact, that is).

ABC's upcoming ``Desperate Housewives'' features a disaffected suburban woman (Eva Longoria) whose lawns (etc.) are serviced by a servile young gardener (Jesse Metcalfe). And that's probably the most wholesome activity the neighborhood traffics in.

The WB's ``Reba'' offers the messy fallout after a family is blown apart when the father (Christopher Rich) marries his office subordinate (Melissa Peterman).

In ``Commando Nanny,'' coming soon from the WB, Phillip Winchester stars as a macho guy hired as a Beverly Hills au pair; one of his charges (Beatrice Rosen) wishes to seduce him.

Where to begin with ``The Simpsons''? Well, there's Smithers' long- unrequited infatuation with his boss, Mr. Burns (both are voiced by Harry Shearer, which somehow makes it even stranger).

Which brings us to NBC's upcoming animated comedy ``Father of the Pride'': Siegfried and Roy. `Nuff said.

David Kronke, (818) 713-3638

david.kronke(at)dailynews.com

CAPTION(S):

5 photos

Photo:

(1 -- cover -- color) ``KEVIN HILL''

(2 -- cover -- color) ``LAS VEGAS''

(3 -- cover -- color) ``DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES''

(4) Heather Locklear and Blair Underwood play airport administrators with plenty of sexual baggage in NBC's ``LAX.''

(5) Leis are plentiful in Fox's ``North Shore,'' in which Brooke Burns and Kristoffer Polaha try not to let their past affect their working relationship.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 2, 2004
Words:958
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