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'Mulaney' react: A grave robbery, a musical number, and a Jewish Shiva

Season 1 | Episode 3 | “Halloween” | Aired Oct 19, 2014

Almost any TV fan would agree, a new show—and especially a new sitcom—needs time to grow. It’s hard to make an informed judgment based only on a 22-minute sample. Enter: The Three-Episode Rule. Used by many to test the waters on a new series, the rule grants a show a three-episode grace period to make a positive impact on its viewers. It’s no secret that Mulaney is off to a rough start, facing negative reviews and disappointed viewers in its first two episodes (despite an odds-defying ratings jump in its second week). The success of its third episode could make or break the show.

Due to some interesting scheduling choices from FOX, Halloween came two weeks early, with themed Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Simpsons, and Mulaney episodes. Holidays can be fertile ground for sitcom material (think of all those Thanksgiving episodes on Friends!) but they can also be traps for clichés and overdone tropes. Luckily, Mulaney took advantage of the opportunity, and produced the best episode of the show’s short lifespan yet. Complete with a grave robbery, a musical number, and a Jewish Shiva, it managed to pass my three-episode test.

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What’s working:

Nasim Pedrad and The Musical Number

Nasim Pedrad continues to shine as Jane, the only female character in the main cast. Though SNL fans have known about Pedrad’s star power for years, it’s still a pleasant change of pace to see her succeed in a role that’s more down-to-earth than characters like Bedelia, Shallon, and Kim Kardashian. In this episode specifically, Pedrad brings serious energy to her solo story line about scheming to inherit her recently deceased neighbor’s rent-controlled apartment—including that amazing musical number about the joys of living in an old guy’s home. It was a risky choice for episode writer Dan Mintz (we’ll get to him later), but Pedrad’s performance, with her bright, energetic eyes and ability to project the song’s subtler undercurrent of dark sarcasm, locked it down as a risk worth taking.


Dan Mintz

Perhaps best known as the voice of Tina on Bob’s Burgers, Dan Mintz is a comedic voice to be reckoned with and a long-time friend of John Mulaney. He’s the brain behind this episode, and the face of the character “Don Mintz.” It’s his writing that gives this episode of Mulaney the sense of self-awareness it needs to reach audiences. From the unlikely success of Lapidus’s terrible, outdated jokes (which felt like a joke and commentary in and of itself) to Jane’s bizarre musical number, to the genuinely hilarious grave-digging twist at the end, Mintz cements the surreal, dark, and meta tone of this show; a tone that’s hard to nail down and off-putting to viewers who aren’t in on the joke.

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 What’s not working:


It’s a combination of the way the character is written and the way Zack Pearlman plays him so earnestly that makes Andre the weakest link in the friend group. Of course, we’re not supposed to like him, but his stories are so often juvenile and unfunny that it’s hard to understand the greater purpose he serves. This week, he tries to avoid teenage Halloween bullies by dressing up as a “little brother” and only going to houses he found online that don’t allow anyone under 18 within 50 feet of the property. (Get it? Pedophilia jokes!) Mulaney, Jane, and Motif aren’t getting any great material by using him as the butt of their jokes, and his presence is doing nothing for the cast’s chemistry as an ensemble. Of all the characters, he’s the least necessary and the least entertaining.

Winning One-Liners

“I’ve been watching me for hours. It’s like the black House of Cards.” —Motif

“Lou fired me! I don’t know what I’m gonna do. I have three teenage girls. Now they’re all gonna break up with me.” —Mintz

“Is there anything I can do for or to you for five dollars?” —Mintz

“I was shoveling dirt for a few seconds before I realized I was insane. I have almost no upper body strength.” —Mulaney

“Maybe just a lip sync to top-40 radio? Could be funny.” —Lapidus’ Notebook

Mulaney airs Sundays at 9:30/8:30 central on FOX.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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