Sex, sex, sex. Is that all it ever is with you, you crazy Fox network? Maybe Rupert Murdoch should consider springing for a little saltpeter in the primetime budget.
Prudishness is not the issue. It’s just that Fox’s new sitcom “Party Girl” (based on the 1995 feature film of the same name) suffers from being a raunchfest in search of a punchline. Any punchline at all will do.
Instead, the script by Harry Birckmayer, Daisy von Scherler Mayer and Efrem Seeger settles for forced jokes about chastity belts and Steven Spielberg, as in , “Oh sure, he’d be as good-looking without the money.”
“Party Girl” is the story of adorably naive woman-child Mary (Christine Taylor, who radiated ditzy charm as Marcia Brady in the “Brady Bunch” movies), a confirmed New York City party animal who decides on a whim that what she really wants to do in life is be a library clerk.
Rather than trust her acting instincts, Taylor opts to emulate Alicia Silverstone in “Clueless,” minus the earnest panache. The show’s touch of class, Swoosie Kurtz, dumbs herself down embarrassingly in playing Mary’s sensually wanting, neurotic boss and godmother Judy.
Only Fox (well, OK, maybe the WB too) could turn a show set in a library into a lust romp. Sleaze among the hardcovers. Do me on the Dewey decimal file. Within the space of 23 very odd pilot minutes, Mary gets stuck in a chastity belt, Judy volunteers to be beheaded and cleavage obscures the literature.
The best thing about “Party Girl” is the wisecracking support of theater-trained John Cameron Mitchell as Derrick, the only character possessing active neurons. Unfortunately, his droll, sassy turn tends to accentuate the banality surrounding him.
“Party Girl” wants very badly to be a broad farce, but under Michael Lembeck’s scattered direction, it comes across most of the time as a misfiring jumble, struggling to be wittily eccentric while backing it up with little character development or soul. Plenty of skin, though. Instead of a laugh track, it should have supplied a drool track.