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Megan Mullally's surreal debut

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1599__meghan_lBig day of premieres in Daytime Talk Show Land, and the good news is, they seem to really be freaking us out over here at PopWatch.  First, Rachael Ray scared the bejeebus out of (and apparently brainwashed) Slezak, and now I’ve been forced to watch enjoyed myself an hour of The Megan Mullally Show, where the woman who played everyone’s favorite TV lush and abuser of illegal immigrants takes off the Chanel and strives to prove that there’s more to her than a squeaky voice and some unfortunate M&M commercials.

Now, look. I’m rooting for Megs, I really am — I loved her on Will & Grace and mostly just watch Saturday Night Live at this point to see how long Kristen Wiig can sustain her Karen impersonation. But there was a sad point during today’s premiere when I found myself wondering why Saturday Night Live was on in the middle of the afternoon, and what Megan was there to plug. Example: It took her less than 30 seconds to actually say, “What a great crowd!”  Then we moved into a musical number featuring rewritten songs from Hair, came to an uncomfortable resting point on the sofa, and suddenly I found myself choking on my sandwich when first guest Will Ferrell appeared, clad only in blue underpants, and the two proceeded to tell a lovely story about the time they got a flat tire on their way home from wine country (in between telling each other how much they liked each other and attempting to pretend like every second of what they were doing hadn’t been planned within an inch of its life).

addCredit(“The Megan Mullally Show: Chris Haston/NBC”)

The rest of the show was a pastiche of space-fillers: A 10-year-oldkarate whiz came out to show off his (very impressive) skills, andMegan got stuck interviewing him from a sort of half-crouch, doing anadmirable job of not touching the kid as much as possible; JennyMcCarthy (???) brought in a flock of sheep (???) and pimped her newbook, then wandered into the audience to take not-at-all-stagedquestions from women about Megan’s likes and dislikes (which had theunfortunate side effect of making me wish Jenny McCarthy had a daytimetalk show). Next, Megan sat down with her mom in the audience and wasclearly about to do something touching and moving… but my phone rangand I had to do a 10-minute interview with Bob Weinstein, so I missedeverything that came after that. I didn’t get to un-mute the TV untilthe very end, when, inexplicably, this talk show that had existed forless than an hour launched into a clip reel of past episodes. Orsomething. I missed the intro, but it was, like, four minutes of Megsjuggling with Josh Radnor and joshing with Allison Janney, and I am so,so confused.

BTW, if you’re in charge of keeping track of these sorts of things, it was at 3:22 p.m. ET that The Megan Mullally Showofficially jumped the shark: Ferrell changed into a tux during thecommercial break and came back out to salute Megan with a rendition of”Wind Beneath My Wings,” a nod to Bette Middler’s “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)” farewell to Johnny Carson. I’m not surewhat I was supposed to make of this, except that I guess it’s okay tocancel Megan on Wednesday.

[Here’s the thing: I think she’s got potential. When she’s justtossing off little quippy remarks, Mullally is funny. Her response toMcCarthy’s gift of sheep: “I have a hatchback, so that’ll work outwell.” But dear God, woman, loosen it up! We are not in the Catskillsand you are not an elderly Jewish man! Also, you can’t beat Rachael Rayin the perk category — please find another objective to play!]