TV REVIEWS : Shining the Light of Day on Fleshy 'Baywatch Nights'

A "Talk Soup" sketch a couple of years ago imagined a TV series entitled "Baywatch Second Unit," in which each episode dwelt exclusively on random footage of the bikini-clad extras cavorting on the beach. No pesky plots to bog you down, just perfectly tanned flesh and lots of it--more of what you watch "Baywatch" for.

Not a bad idea, the "Baywatch" brain trust must have thought, although their response is entitled "Baywatch Nights" and still insists on retaining a smidgen of story line.

The premiere of this ogle-fest opens tonight with something of an apologia, with David Hasselhoff disputing the notion that "the beach closes when the sun goes down."

"Uhn-uhn," Hasselhoff corrects us with a knowing smirk. "That's when it really starts to heat up." "Baywatch" has been on TV for years; why didn't they ever let us in on this before?

"Baywatch Nights" focuses on the moonlighting Mitch (Hasselhoff), who now owns part of a struggling private investigation agency with his friend Garner (GregAlan Williams), the one actor who approaches this with the humorous self-deprecation it deserves) and your typical gorgeous forensics expert named Ryan (Angie Harmon).

The debut episode is your standard-issue supermodels-in-peril piffle, with supermodel-in-career-peril Carol Alt showing us a side of herself that we're all probably better off not knowing about. "I want to hire you guys to protect me around the clock--I'll pay you whatever it costs," she intones expressively.

By the time things shake themselves out at episode's end, cursory rumination will expose the plot as lethally illogical and just plain preposterous.

* "Baywatch Nights" premieres at 8 tonight on KCOP-TV Channel 13.

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