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'Mulaney' review: Subversive, or maybe stupefying, sitcom

Roommates John (John Mulaney, right), Motif (Seaton Smith,

Roommates John (John Mulaney, right), Motif (Seaton Smith, center) and Jane (Nasim Pedrad) in the "Mo'laney Mo'Problems" season premiere episode of "Mulaney," airing at 9:30 p.m. EST Sunday, Oct. 10 on Fox. Credit: Fox / Ray Mickshaw

THE SHOW "Mulaney"

WHEN | WHERE Premieres Sunday night at 9:30 on Fox/5

WHAT IT'S ABOUT There's this standup comic with two pals and this weird guy who lives across the hall. Sound like "Seinfeld"?

Let's call it "Mulaney." Longtime "Saturday Night Live" writer John Mulaney delivers deadpan standup, then bounces off tense roommate Jane (Nasim Pedrad, "SNL") and laid-back roommate Motif (standup Seaton Smith). Door knocks come from hippie neighbor Oscar (Elliott Gould) and pot purveyor Andre (Zack Pearlman, "The Inbetweeners"). Mulaney then lands a TV gig as conscripted BFF to Martin Short's big-baby game show host.

MY SAY Mulaney isn't much of an actor. Not sure he's much of a standup. Not sure of much. "Mulaney" shifts focus at near the pace of its "Family Guy" lead-in -- settings, sidetracks, cameos, studio-audience howls.

So the show seems either a subversive deconstruction of the laugh-track sitcom blueprint or a stupefying misfire built around the blandest star ever. That I can't decide signifies there might be something here. (It took awhile to take to "Seinfeld," too.)

At least Short is an instant delight, anchoring things as the narcissistic loon who controls Mulaney's life. He's the show's beating heart, while Mulaney inhabits cerebral territory.

Which some will consider brain-dead.

BOTTOM LINE You hate it, then loathe it, then like it, then love it? It could happen. Or not.

GRADE B or D, depending on how you grade on a curve.

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