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TV REVIEW : Stiff-Arm CBS’ ‘Bodywatching’

“The body tells wonderful stories--stories of murder, love, sex and power. It’s really rather like watching television,” says behaviorist Desmond Morris in “Bodywatching,” a CBS special airing at 9 p.m. tonight on Channels 2 and 8.

Put a handful of oil on that body and it’ll be a lot like “Bodywatching,” a slick, superficial look at some aspects of body language--onto which the briefly appearing Morris has his name stamped like some sort of seal of approval.

True to its double-entendre title, the hour is half-PBS-like information and half-CBS-like breeziness. Make that KCBS-like: “Bodywatching” resembles Channel 2’s “Two on the Town” as much as it does something like “Nova.” Only it’s not as good as either.

For its first 10 minutes, “Bodywatching” can’t stop blinking--there seems to be an edit per second. After that, flashy images actually give way to two solid segments on a blind sculptor and on training at the U.S. Naval Academy (a dramatic form of behavioral modification).

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It’s downhill from there. We meet Kyle Goodwin, who’s--pull those easy chairs a little closer to the set, guys--a “bra engineer.” We learn almost nothing about how Goodwin designs, but we do learn that the most popular brassiere size in the United States is 34-B.

Next up: a little bikini-watching at the beach (where’s Melody Rogers?) and an incredibly dumb final story--set up with phony “Reporters"/"A Current Affair"-style restaging--about how, supposedly, a trial lawyer can tell his client is lying by watching his face.

Even when “Bodywatching” does get some morsel of information across, it’s often obvious or specious. This unnecessarily lightweight show reveals less about the human body than it does about the compromises made when a serious subject with entertaining aspects is put together for CBS rather than PBS.


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