LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Howie Mandel tosses his hat into the hidden-camera arena with "Howie Do It," a reasonably entertaining piece of whimsy. The show premieres on NBC on Friday, and simultaneously in Canada on Global Television.
The improbable "it" guy of the moment -- thanks to the monumental success of "Deal or No Deal" -- has an annoying habit of always reacting to his own jokes. But the actual situations are fairly clever, and the marks are treated with a degree of quasi-humanity, if not exactly respect.
There's the poor schmo working for a singing telegram service who is sent, in a bunny suit, to what he discovers is a funeral (actually a set up with actors). He's forced to sing "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" to the corpse as his grieving widow whimpers nonstop in the front row.
Another segment gauges a husband's reaction to a plastic surgery nightmare perpetrated on his wife, while another hubby watches his wife get felt up by a commercial producer for what he thought was a tryout for a mouthwash ad.
Mandel does a lot of the heavy lifting in the skits himself, only to reveal his bald-pated identity at the conclusion. He looks to be having a good time, the victims slightly less so. But there have been far nastier hidden-camera efforts than this. Better ones, too. Yet to be sure, in the opening hour, "Howie Do It" at least delivers laughs more often than it inspires groans.