Judging by Wednesday night's premiere of "The Jenny McCarthy Show," former "Playboy" centerfold and zany blond bombshell Jenny McCarthy can be described, generously on both counts, as Carol Burnett trapped in Marilyn Monroe's body. Like Burnett, her most pronounced feature, at least from the neck up, is a big mouth she's willing to use recklessly --- belching, barfing, and shamelessly mugging at the drop of a pair of bunny ears. Her broad, physical style suits the format and the network. The question is whether this energetic girl from suburban Chicago, at pains not to take herself too seriously, can carry --- or find --- material that goes beyond the self-referential. Three sketches traded on her well-deserved reputation as the most overexposed woman in America and equally deserved image as the decade's chief sex object.
In the opening filmed bit, she stalks a guy who was sick of seeing and hearing about her; in another, she plays an office worker obsessed with the dorky mail boy. Both were amusing enough. But a third sketch forced the issue of her persona, as she portrayed the host of a children’s program who cursed out the animal puppets for ogling her boobs. On the other hand, the least successful and most cerebral skit was the one she wasn’t in. It’s difficult to judge the acting ensemble — they just aren’t seen enough.
Needless to say, the folks at MTV know their audience. Based on the debut’s thrust and a half-hour special “A Day in the Life of Jenny McCarthy” that aired before it, she’s on the right wavelength, with bodily functions a priority. A realistic sketch in which she vomited her lunch onto a boardroom table and proceeded to pick at it was pretty good. And a film about a chef befriending a rat was certainly unappetizing. Still, McCarthy needs better material to definitively prove her talent.
The excellent title sequence spoofs the openings of television programs with women in the leads: “That Girl,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Wonder Woman,” “Three’s Company” (with Suzanne Somers) to name a few. In true postmodern fashion, the title song, with a melody reminiscent of “The Love Boat” theme, is sung by Somers — yet another case of retro blending that permeates the show.