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Weekend Tv : It's That Time Again: '9 To 5' Gets Second Try

September 13, 1986|LEE MARGULIES | Times Staff Writer

In principle, viewers should be pleased that the television syndication business has grown to the point where it can now give a second chance to promising series that don't succeed on the networks. But when it does so for unpromising series, such as "9 to 5," which returns this weekend, the benefit is questionable.

Based on the hit 1980 film about three secretaries who get revenge on their sexist male boss, "9 to 5" wasn't funny when it premiered on ABC in 1982, and a major overhaul the next season didn't help. Now it's been transformed again for syndication--and it still isn't funny.

Debuting at 7 tonight on KTTV Channel 11, "9 to 5" returns Valerie Curtin and Rachel Dennison from the original TV cast and, as their compatriot, adds Sally Struthers, who still whines and whimpers like she did on "All in the Family" 15 years ago. It isn't becoming.

The producers say the new show will deal "with the travails of today's women in the work force" . . . as in tonight's episode, when Struthers' character struggles to cope with a new phone system ("I hate high tech; I like low tech") and Curtin's character pines after one of the men in the office ("I would degrade myself for that man, I really would--and he doesn't even know I'm degradable").

Women's travails evidently just aren't what they used to be.

More worthy of attention tonight is "The Lemon Grove Incident" (9 p.m., Channel 28), an hourlong docudrama produced by KPBS-TV in San Diego that illuminates a little-known piece of California history.

In 1930, 24 years before the U.S. Supreme Court's historic ruling on school desegregation, a group of Mexican-American parents in the San Diego suburb of Lemon Grove fought and won a battle to keep their children in the same school as those of the Anglo residents.

Through a combination of dramatic scenes, old film footage and interviews with some of the former students, the program recounts how the all-white school board sought to impose segregation and how the Mexican-American community resisted it--by pulling the kids out of school and going to court.

"The Lemon Grove Incident" is dry as drama but significant as documentary for its recognition of a group of poor, hard-working people who had the nerve to ask the government to live up to its promise of equality.

The program, produced and written by Paul Espinosa and directed by Frank Christopher, will also be broadcast Wednesday at 9 p.m. on Channel 24 and at 9:30 p.m. on Channel 50.

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