Pilot Perception: Mulaney

Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.

The Show: Mulaney, FOX in the U.S. on Sundays at 9:30/8:30c and Global TV in Canada on Sundays at 7/6c.

The Pedigree: The show was created by John Mulaney (Saturday Night Live), who wrote the pilot and executive produces with Lorne Michaels (Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock), among others. The pilot was directed by Andy Ackerman (Seinfeld).

The Cast & How You Know Them: Along with Mulaney, the show stars Martin Short (Damages), Nasim Pedrad (Saturday Night Live), comedian Seaton Smith, Zack Pearlman (The Inbetweeners), and Elliott Gould (Ray Donovan).

The Premise: John Mulaney is a young stand-up comic who gets what’s supposed to be his big break working for a comedy legend, but the job doesn’t turn out to be what he expects.

A Taste:

What Works: I liked some of the jokes – and that sounds like damning with faint praise, but there have been plenty of comedy pilots that haven’t made me laugh once. The characters were caricaturish, but there was enough humanity in them to make me care enough to watch another episode. The juxtaposition of extremely traditional sitcom set pieces with more modern-feeling characters mostly worked for me.

What Doesn’t: Everyone’s delivery was very slow and wooden, and I had trouble telling if and when this was deliberately for effect. While, as I said, some of the jokes were funny, some just didn’t land at all, and that’s a common problem but sticks out more when most of the characters are literally supposed to be comics. I have zero interest in stand-up, so the bits we saw from Mulaney’s performances did nothing for me.

Our Favorite Line: “I’m sorry, you’re from Maryland and you yell at video games. You’re not a Buddhist.”

You Might Like This if you like comedies about weird, dysfunctional groups of friends. It’s getting a lot of Seinfeld comparisons, and it does follow a similar template, but it probably does everyone a disservice to expect it to be as good as such a legendary show right off the bat. It’s also not as good as You’re the Worst, but it reminded me a bit of that one in the way the characters interact and relate to each other.

If You’re Interested: Catch the pilot on the FOX or Global TV sites, then set your DVR for next Sunday.

(Photo courtesy of FOX.)

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