The Virginian-Pilot
                             THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT 
              Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc.

DATE: Monday, November 6, 1995               TAG: 9511040072
SOURCE: Larry Bonko 
                                             LENGTH: Medium:   78 lines


IF YOU WATCHED ``Silk Stalkings'' on the USA network last night - and I bet you did because it's the guilty pleasure of 2.5 million cable subscribers - you saw detectives Rita Lance and Chris Lorenzo evolve from partners to lovers.

Soon they'll be married.

When I heard that news from USA Network publicist Karen Reynolds, it knocked my socks off.

Order more socks, she said, because the surprises keep coming.

A week after Lance and Lorenzo wed on Nov. 26, Lorenzo dies a heroic death.

Oh, no. Oh, yes.

On the Dec. 10 show, Lance announces that she is pregnant and gives up her badge and gun.

In its five seasons on television, including a tour on CBS' late-night schedule B.L. (Before Letterman), ``Silk Stalkings'' was remarkable for the fact that its sexy co-stars (Mitzi Kapture as Lance and Rob Estes as Lorenzo) did not fall into each other's arms.

Both were single. Both spent long hours together. She put her life on the line for him. He did the same for her. They were attracted to each other from the first case they worked as members of the Palm Beach, Fla., police department.

And yet. . . . they were never more than friends - like sister and brother.

There were times when Lance and Lorenzo, working undercover as a married couple, thought about sharing a bed. But it never happened until now because executive producers Stu Segall and David Peckinpah decided that the sexual tension was a good thing for the series.

``Moonlighting'' was never the same after Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis did it.

So why risk upsetting the chemistry of the highest-rated drama on cable by marrying off Lance and Lorenzo or having them live together unmarried? The answer is that it doesn't matter what happens to these characters now because Kapture and Estes are leaving the series.

Oh, no, again. Oh, yes, again.

She's pregnant for real. He wants to do other things - maybe revive the role as Mike Hammer in made-for-TV films, maybe develop a project with his wife, Josie Bissett of ``Melrose Place.''

When they're gone, I'll miss these two. ``There was something special between them from the first episode,'' said Peckinpah.

``Silk Stalkings'' is no prestigious cop drama like ``NYPD Blue.'' It is stuffed with enough bods in bikinis to enrage any feminist. The series isn't even up to par with the show that probably inspired Stephen J. Cannell to create this series - ``Miami Vice.''

But the show had all it needed to keep people watching every week. It had great chemistry between Lance and Lorenzo. I didn't care what dopey case about phone sex, gigolos for hire or suddenly dead volleyball players the two were working on.

The fun of ``Silk Stalkings'' is in watching the two detectives spar with each other, flirt a little, come to the rescue of each other, love each other without getting physical. Both Kapture and Estes know how to apply the light touch.

And soon they'll be gone, to be reunited only in re-runs which will be on USA Sunday nights at 11 following new shows at 10.

``Silk Stalkings'' will go on with Nick Kokotakis and Tyler Layton replacing Kapture and Estes. It won't be the same, of course, just as ``Law & Order'' isn't the same now that Chris Noth has left the show, and ``Homicide: Life on the Street'' isn't the same since Ned Beatty and Daniel Baldwin departed.

Peckinpah admitted that there was talk of ending the series with the departure of Kapture and Estes on the 100th show. ``The thought of going on without them is kind of scary,'' he said.

But press on they will, because ``Silk Stalkings'' is an international franchise worth millions. ``Interest in the show is the highest it has ever been,'' said Peckinpah. Adios, Rita. Adios, Chis. by CNB