Mulaney: “Worlds Collide”

TV Reviews
Mulaney: “Worlds Collide”

Well, we’ve entered the selection of Mulaney episodes that were held back because they weren’t considered to be quite as good as the others. The folks at FOX wanted to lead with what they felt was a stronger batch, and even those were largely met with indifference. Now, it basically feels like episodes are being burnt off, starting with “Worlds Collide.”

This episode is clearly an early episode of Mulaney, and, indeed, it was fourth in the original running order. Even so, it feels like it could have aired earlier. In particular, Jane barely feels like Jane. To make the millionth Seinfeld comparison for this show (in hopes that there is some sort of prize for hitting this landmark number), Jane is the George of Mulaney, and she is excellent in that role. Here, she’s too normal, too reasonable, and too nice. Yes, it’s fun to watch her happily cut up red peppers for a photo shoot, but everything else feels like a show trying to find a character—a character that had already been found.

The main plot centers around Jane hanging out with Lou. She doesn’t laugh at his jokes when she’s in the audience of his show, and so he hires her as a personal trainer in a desperate attempt to get her to laugh. Oh, also Jane is a personal trainer. Was this mentioned at any other point? Has it been mentioned in months? John convinces her to fake laugh, and she does, and then she becomes Lou’s go-to confidant and muse. She starts dressing like a Real Housewife. Then, John and Andre unleash Andre’s Rasta skateboarder dog on Jane, and she unleashes a real laugh, and the whole ruse falls apart.

In and of itself, the storyline is fine. It’s not great, but there are some funny bits and Nasim Pedrad has been excellent in this role since day one. Had this run earlier in the season, this review would probably be more generous. Also, the Rasta skateboarding dog isn’t quite the big moment the show is really hoping for. Plus, John’s interactions with Lou have never been the strength of the show. It’s all even clumsier this early in the show’s run.

Meanwhile, Motif is accidentally outed by John as somebody who has grown up with privilege and happiness, which ruins the act he’s been doing. Oscar tries to convince him to make jokes about happy things. Eventually he just makes jokes about his roommates and neighbors. This is a thing that happens. There is really nothing more positive or negative to say about it. Oh, also in the little standup intro at the beginning of the episode, actual John Mulaney tells us a little bit about the plot. It felt a tad strange, even if the material was rather funny—perhaps even the humor highlight of the evening.

It makes some sense that “Worlds Collide” was held back. It is the least successful episode of Mulaney thus far. It would have been pretty good had it run in order, and it would have caused none of the cognitive dissonance it caused airing now. Of course, by this point, so many people have given up the ghost on Mulaney, which is a shame. Now, it would seem we are left to watch a handful of episodes that even the people who had faith in the show weren’t enthused about. Television is a strange business. Stoner bulldogs can’t solve everything.

Chris Morgan is an Internet gadabout who writes on a variety of topics and in a variety of mediums. If he had to select one thing to promote, however, it would be his ’90s blog/podcast, Existential Parachute Pants. (You can also follow him on Twitter.)

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