And McCarthy's Down For The Count!There's a certain part of me that desperately wants to like Jenny McCarthy's new sitcom Jenny; to laugh heartily at Jenny's whippet-quick japes; to giggle gleefully at Jenny's open-mouthed, bug-eyed faces; to chuckle knowingly when Jenny slyly pokes fun at her own calendar girl image.
Fortunately that part of me was long ago hauled into a dark alley and beaten into bloody submission for its rank stupidity....
The best thing that can be said about Jenny is that it's not unspeakably awful in the way of, say, NBC's new Thursday night patsy Union Square. Union Square is an abominable television show, an alleged comedy that took a wrong turn on writing, veered further off course at performance, and plunged into a big ditch just off chemistry. If bad TV shows were natural disasters, Union Square would be the catastrophic earthquake that drops half the West Coast into the sea, crumbles buildings, crushes disparate kids, burns homes, and swallows whole small puppies.
Jenny is more like a really bad flood.
Jenny, as you may have heard, stars the aforementioned McCarthy--a former Playmate of the Year who rose to stardom on the power of her spectacular zoomers and stayed there thanks to the inspired judgment of several numbnuts who shop at Brooks Brothers--as Jenny McMillan, a New York transplant who inherits an L.A. home from her dead father (George Hamilton) and decides to live there with her best friend (Heather Paige Kent). McCarthy is, to put it mildly, a limited talent, not skilled enough to play anyone but herself, bereft of anything remotely approaching comic timing, not nearly perceptive enough to exploit the world's oddities. The result is a half-hour spectacle driven by her celebrity, not unlike George, the ill-fated 1993 ABC sitcom that starred middle-aged pugilist and one-time KFC pitchman, George Foreman. Which is to say, one tunes in not so much because one expects to be entertained, but more because one wants to see famous people make asses of themselves.
And make an ass of herself Jenny does. Oh, don't get me wrong. Jenny isn't nearly on the scale of such previous McCarthy-ian efforts as Singled Out, the wonderful MTV game show that launched her career, or her self-titled sketch comedy opus The Jenny McCarthy Show, or even her much ballyhooed guest appearance last year on Wings in which the buxom blonde went so far over the top that she conked her pretty little head on a low-hanging beam and woke up next to Tom Arnold in "The Stupids." No, in those shows Jenny distinguished herself pretty much by her willingness to do just about anything that would horrify and repulse America--scream at the camera, inhale her armpits, make time with Steven Weber. And, to her credit, she made a pretty big name for herself doing it. Unfortunately she failed to realize until it was too late that the wave of hype sweeping her up wasn't so much appreciation for her many talents, as it was the stunning incongruity of it all: Holy cow, look at that drop dead gorgeous woman with her knuckle up her nose!
So Jenny's reinventing herself with Jenny, a half hour sitcom that (in the premiere at least) features nary a scream, nor a proboscis-bound digit, nor an inhaled armpit. (It does, however, feature Jenny doing her trademark, bug-eyed face. Apparently that's how she defines "range.") The result? Stupefying boredom. Utter banality. Union Square with a faint, faint pulse. Jenny still makes an ass of herself, but now it's because she's the headliner for a really crappy show.
Then again, what did you expect? Take away a gal's bag of tricks, leave her to her own natural devices and, well, you may as well just strip her naked. Jenny's problem is she's not a comedian, so she's not naturally funny. She's not an actor, so she can't act funny. And she's not a performance artist, so she can't interpret an actor acting funny. She's really not much of anything, except for a pretty girl who happened to pose for the right people at the right time. Credentials like that may land you a spot in Shannon Tweed's next thriller, but they glare like apple- sized zits when you have to carry your own sitcom.
In all fairness I should point out that it's not entirely Jenny's fault. It doesn't help that she's burdened with a writing staff whose idea of funny is a gratuitous intercourse-slash-birth control joke in the first two minutes. Nor does it help that the supporting cast includes two utterly immemorable dolts who look like they were recruited from a California Pizza Kitchen. And it certainly doesn't help that she swims in the wake of the criminally unfunny Men Behaving Badly. As I believe the careers of Chris Farley and Kevin Nealon conclusively demonstrate, Rob Schneider's stench has a way of spreading everywhere.
But in the end, the bulk of the blame lies at the manicured toes of Jenny McCarthy. The fact is she has as much business having her own sitcom as you or I do. She's famous and beloved because we homo sapiens are a stupid breed. But she's not entertaining and, once the novelty wears off, she's not capable of being entertaining. Eventually, I suspect, this truth will bore its way through Warren Littlefield's thick skull. And then Jenny will be out on the street, a punchline and unemployed. I don't know, maybe she could fight George Foreman.
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