May 12, 2014

NIELSENWAR 2014-15 Trailer Review: FOX’s “Mulaney”


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MULANEY:  Sunday 9:30PM on FOX

THE FACTS:  John Mulaney, in real life a stand-up comic and TV comedy writer (most notably on SNL, where his biggest claim to fame may be co-creating Bill Hader’s Stefon character), plays one in the sitcom he created for himself, too.  His TV show boss is Martin Short, and his wacky friends are Seaton Smith and fellow SNL alumnus Nasim Pedrad.  (Not at all coincidentally, the show is produced by Lorne Michaels.)  After NBC passed on the project, FOX grabbed it with a 6-episode order, which the network has already increased to 16.

WHAT’S IT SAYING:  Do you remember Seinfeld?  Do you like multi-camera sitcoms about a comic and his wacky friends, with plot scenes intercut with bits of the comic doing his stand-up?  We’ve got a show for you!

WHAT’S IT REALLY SAYING:  A striking amount of the trailer is made up of Mulaney doing his stand-up routine, and since that won’t (presumably) be what makes the show work, it’s slightly worrisome.  The template is Seinfeld, but the dialogue scenes look awfully generic, and Mulaney’s own place in the narrative–is he wacky too, or is he the straight man?–will have to be clarified.  Nobody told the cast to hold it down or aim for anything like naturalism.  Martin Short’s character will either be a breakout or an enormous annoyance once the show is 3 episodes old.

THE OUTLOOK:  FOX is breaking its own mold by airing Mulaney (as well as Brooklyn Nine-Nine) in what had been the network’s animated line-up, with Family Guy as the lead-in.  Since Seth MacFarlane’s flagship show is FOX’s highest-rated comedy, that’s a big vote of confidence, and that of course goes for the extended order, too.  Airing such a guy-oriented show directly against Sunday Night Football isn’t ideal, but if Mulaney can deliver numbers within its lead-in’s universe, FOX will be very happy.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."