Mailbag: Mulling a Couple of Fox Shows

mulaney2A friend writes:

 I think I like ‘Mulaney’ better than I’m supposed to. I always felt not enough sitcoms really learned from ‘Seinfeld’ ‘s example, or maybe that all the ones that were sort of in its mold missed the important “No hugs, no lessons” rule. The only one I can think of that actually came close was ‘It’s Like, You Know …’ from 13 years ago now.

Of course, I’ve seen exactly one episode of ‘Mulaney’ at this point (and seeing a lot more, where it’s scheduled, is going to be highly problematic) but I don’t think trying (even almost slavishly) to be like ‘Seinfeld’ is a big problem in itself. More power to it.

“Mulaney” is certainly aware of how similar it is to “Seinfeld” with its standup starts, and its apartment building full of lovably nutty friends. But they also seem to take time in every episode to mention the similarity. Which doesn’t make it immune to copycat charges, but does show some self awareness. I still have hopes for it, even though Fox recently cut the original 16 episode order to 13 (“Seinfeld” had similar growing pains).

Another friend writes about “Gracepoint.”

After having seen “Broadchurch,” the U.S. version feels like a re-enactment.  The only reason I tuned in for 5 minutes was to understand David Tennant whose own Scottish accent made his original character hard to understand.

I’ll probably watch the last episode to see who the U.S. killer is.

BTW Tennant is a great actor and I just watched a DVD of his “Hamlet” which I found to be the definitive version of the role. I also thought he was great in “The Escape Artist.”

I found it kind of interesting probably because I liked the first one so well. I kept hearing how it was going to veer from the original. But up through the first seven episodes, it hadn’t shifted very much. I think some of the U.S. characters do a particularly good job (Michael Pena as the victim’s father), but others are not as good (particularly the young local reporter).

Tennant remains the puzzle. He’s not bad here, but way out of place. I wonder how he feels about doing the same role twice with a whole new cast around him. He’s currently shooting the second season of “Broadchurch” so there’s that to look forward to. I agree with you on “The Escape Artist.” I’ll have to look for that Hamlet. Here’s an unrelated story I wrote for the Washington Post about sitcom stars who might play Shakespearean roles.

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