I went out of my way to set my DVR to record the newest FOX sitcom, "Mulaney" last night and I still am unsure what to think of the new multi-camera series starring comedian and former Saturday Night Live writer John Mulaney.
The series got off to an admittedly rough start. I may have cracked a smile or two early on but the series premiere was well over half finished before I laughed for the first time. Given John Mulaney's history -- hell, he wrote and created the hysterical SNL character "Stefon" -- I still have hopes that this show finds its footings and starts to become a consistent performer and generator of laughs.
In terms of what "Mulaney" is all about, the series is drawing a lot of comparisons to "Seinfeld". Both comedies star a stand-up comedian who appears to have absolutely no acting chops. Both show feature roughly the same number of supporting cast members including a man who could be compared to "Seinfeld" arch nemesis Newman, an Elane character portrayed by former SNL player Nasim Pedrad and John Mulaney's best friend who is also a comedian and appears to be the George Costanza of the cast.
The biggest problem with John Mulaney is that his acting is stiff. No, scratch that, his acting is as stiff as setting concrete. His on-camera presence is lifeless while what I have seen of his stand-up performances, while still somewhat stiff, has sings of life. Somewhere, buried deep beneath the fact that "Mulaney" appears to be about, wait for it, NOTHING again like its on-paper cousin "Seinfeld", there is a decent sitcom hiding.
After reading numerous reviews about "Mulaney" from those privy to seeing screeners of future episodes, the FOX sitcom does manage to find the funny and shore up its shaky footings by, at the latest, the sixth episode. With this being a desperate network and that the executives had enough faith before this series even aired a single episode to hand it a whopping sixteen episode commitment means that the suits at FOX will either ride out the 16 ordered episodes and see how things pan out or unceremoniously ax this show over the extended Christmas break. All signs, though, point to "Mulaney" airing its 16 episodes in their entirety and maybe more if ratings and reviews improve.
I, for one, want this show to succeed even though it has the often maligned laugh track and is a blatant "Seinfeld" rip-off. Be sure to get in on the ground floor of "Mulaney" and watch as it improves. It airs Sunday evenings at 8:30 PM C/T on FOX.