TV Review: ‘Mulaney’

Mulany TV Review Fox

At one point the star, namesake and creator of “Mulaney” refers to himself as a “Seinfeld ripoff,” which is not a good idea, even in jest. That’s because this uneven and uninspired Fox series exposes the difference between sharp observational comedy and funny sitcoms, and those that, well, aren’t. Beyond a “Seinfeld”-like framing device — John Mulaney opens each episode doing standup — and a couple of self-absorbed pals, the show proves inordinately flat, punctuated by a few moments of silliness that, ultimately, enough to justify still add up to less than nothing.

Young and fresh-faced, Mulaney approaches his material with a perplexed, self-effacing persona. Once the actual show begins, he’s a standup — living with another comic, named Motif (Seaton Smith) — who is forced to take a job writing for an aging comic star, Lou Cannon (Martin Short), presently relegated to hosting a daytime gameshow. (Not surprisingly, Short’s character is all raging ego and venality, which starts to get old by, oh, the second-act break.)

Mulaney’s circle also includes his platonic pal Jane (Nasim Pedrad) and a fabulously gay neighbor played by Elliott Gould, who waltzes in periodically to throw off a couple of sex jokes, and just as quickly disappears.

Written by Mulaney and directed by Andy Ackerman, “Mulaney” doesn’t take itself too seriously, and its broad approach might explain why Fox opted to give it a shot on Sunday nights behind “Family Guy.” In this case, however, “live-action cartoon” really can’t be viewed as a compliment. It’s more like a contest — only here, to present the characters in the most banal and predictable manner possible.

To be fair, the four episodes previewed yield a couple of laughs, including a bit where Motif — who is African-American, and a complete stranger to “Friends” — begins binge-watching the show, which proves an eye-opening experience.

Still, it’s small compensation for a sitcom that feels dated enough to have come out of the way-back machine — and that too often seems to stop time when trying to watch it.

If there’s a low point, incidentally, it’s a later installment in which Jane tries to win the affection of her aloof new cat, treating the scenes like a relationship with a guy.

Although after watching four episodes of “Mulaney,” the cat summed up my indifference purr-fectly.

TV Review: 'Mulaney'

(Series; Fox, Sun. Oct. 5, 9:30 p.m.)


Produced by Broadway Video, Jurny Mulurny TV and 3 Arts Entertainment in association with Universal Television.


Executive producers, John Mulaney, Lorne Michaels, Jon Pollack, Andy Ackerman, Dave Becky, David Miner, Andrew Singer; producers, Erin Doyle, Franco E. Bario; director, Ackerman; writer, Mulaney; camera, Patti Lee; production designer, Wendell Johnson; editor, Richard Candib; music, Matter; casting, Jill Anthony Thomas, Beth Liebetrau. 30 MIN.


John Mulaney, Seaton Smith, Nasim Pedrad, Martin Short, Elliott Gould, Zack Pearlman

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  1. Jtgefroh says:

    Do you remember how horrible the Seinfeld pilot was ?

  2. S says:

    Sorry but its boring. … ..

  3. It’s just like Seinfeld–except its not funny at all.

  4. Crackers81 says:

    Fox got rid of America Dad to make room for this? This channel is just about to ruin the one block of programming a week that is actually watchable.

  5. H.M. says:

    The “Mulaney” show trailer


    Sometimes real things are perfect sketches for satire themselves-unintentionally. Thus, thinking that someone was pitching to SNL creator Lorne Michaels this new Fox show “Mulaney”-a new pseudo-Seinfeld (that publically they deny it is) made with some witty post ironic, inverse changes to modernize it for today and make Lorne Michaels, not Seinfeld (the indignity) more rich & praised.

    The imagined pitch…
    -Hey Lorne, Tough luck NBC said no. So our Seinfeld will now be…a young Irish-Catholic stand-up comedian! And he will be from SNL so you know he’s hilarious! People are tired of hearing about C.K. Louie and his weird and not so well rated show, am I right?
    Think of it this way, we can get all those people who felt Seinfeld was you know too, um, ‘semitic’.plus add the old “Seinfeld” crowd. Win-win.
    Our lead John Mulaney will be as soothing as Ovaltine. I mean Vanilla isn’t the most popular ice cream flavor for nothing.

    We will counter him being so white bread *wink* by giving him a black friend!
    Remember how they said Seinfeld hardly ever cast any blacks, despite it taking place in N.Y.? Well, hello-that past problem solved! PLUS, we will give him a really cool, odd name like ‘Kramer’ had. His name’s ‘Motif”. Ya, it gave me a creativity boner too!

    And speaking of being even more N.Y.! How about this- A kinda young, Willliamsburg hipster ‘George Constanza’ character. BUT! Instead of him
    being a bald, negative loser-he will be a–TADA!–confident, shaggy haired & bearded guy who looks more like Zach Galifinakas now.

    Of course we do want some of that past big “Seinfeld” audience so lets concession cast Elliot Gould to add some matzoh to the meal-ya know. So hello Mr. ex-Streisand. That old “Seinfled” demo is in their 50’s & 60’s after all now anyway right?
    And here’s a fun spin. Lets cast another former SNL comedienne that WON’T be all that different from ex-SNL’s Julia Louis-Dreyfuss ‘Elaine Benes’ character from 20 years ago. This will actually be a uber smart, meta subversive way to make a statement on how little progress women in primetime has made in the last 20 years! Sheer *beep* genius!

    Let’s even cast another ex-SNLer buddy of yours-Martin Short. But we’ll give him such lame material on purpose that even though he’s been very funny & successful on Broadway, films & TV with lotsa awards-his lead balloon lame character will make all the other characters on the show look funnier-.

    Get ready for Emmy nomination time Mr. Michaels!
    Sadly, this show’s trailer isn’t an intentional joke, It’s real and real sad. How much must a show suck for Lorne Michaels not to have it get on NBC? But it’s awfulness amuses me on a lot of levels. The labored, forced acting & mugging from Mulaney, Short & especially Perdrad (gosh, she’s bad). Mulaney’s comatose wrap around stand-up bits are the perfect lame coda.

    I love labored, obvious bad TV. I did have some good memories of his past brief SNL appearances that I had seen. So better luck in the future for quality.

  6. Mark says:

    Should never have dumped Rick the intern.

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