Warning: Spoiler Alert
There has been a fair amount of conjecture regarding last week’s episode. I’m not going to go into great detail, but there are some common sense issues that viewers and critics as well as studio executives need to consider. Anytime you air a sitcom pilot up against the season premiere of Homeland, Major League Baseball playoffs, and Sunday Night Football, you are going to have less than desired ratings. It’s a sitcom. It’s not like you should expect immediate success like that of Gotham or The Blacklist.
For those who can’t get past the premise, you’re focusing on the wrong details. For my money, Mulaney is already better than Two Broke Girls, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The New Girl, The Goldberg’s and a litany of other renewed sitcoms already on television. I’d include Modern Family in that as well, but I don’t want to incite the wrath of their fandom. Mulaney is in a difficult time slot for what it is. A new sitcom.
Do keep in mind that this is the juncture where my expectations are raised. I admittedly am a fan of John Mulaney, Seaton Smith, and Nasim Pedrad. And with John and Seaton specifically, I am familiar with their stand up work and believe this can be the kind of show it was designed to be. Last week a bulk of the material was previously written stuff. Verbatim. So this week I’m looking for new material. I want to hear new material and how that fits in.
With all of that said, it appears that FOX was shaken if not flat-out scared by the ratings and critical backlash. Multiple websites indicate that “The Doula” episode was intended to be the 7th episode in order. However, here we are week 2, and we’ve jumped ahead. The only reason I can imagine they’d do that is to shake things up. Maybe “The Doula” is edgier or something. Let’s find out.
“I was got a message”. OK John, here we go again. Here, let me finish it for you, “so I put on a sweater and a pair of corduroy pants, and I felt safe”. Welp, we have new material. For those that watched tonight’s episode, the “bodily functions that are acceptable to talk about” bit is new material. And I found genuinely funny. It’s not “Ice-T giving examples” funny but nice to see new material.
“Midwifery, sounds like an ugly girl on Downton Abbey”.
This episode definitely has something the pilot did not. Painful, Ben Stiller movie like awkwardness. Starting with Lou Cannon channeling his inner Richard Dawson. Cannon, who recently broke up with this girlfriend, is now treating the female contestants (and even female crew) as if they are willing participants in the game show, “Find Lou a New Girlfriend”.
A lovely little comedic device that I personally have not witnessed yet made its appearance tonight. The “We’re helping carry this heavy thing, but not really” shtick. Poor Andre. But onto a longer bit. With Andre carrying the new air conditioner up to the apartment, they need to get the old one out. Motif goes out on the terrace to push it through with his feet. Naturally, looking like a woman in stirrups trying to deliver a baby just as John’s new item, the Doula, shows up. Which then turns into a great interaction with the “Doula” treating Motif like an actual woman delivering an air conditioning unit.
Side note. The Doula, is played by Maria Thayer. She seemed very familiar to me. Maria Thayer starred in the made for TV movie “Annie Claus Comes to Town”. And yes, Annie Claus is exactly who you think it is. No actor or actress who played even a small role in any Christmas movie (big or small) will ever escape my gaze.
In another great Elliot Gould moment, Oscar suggests to John that he learn as much about childbirth as he can so that it is no worse than watching a friend get their hair cut. Gould 2 for 2 on stealing scenes by the way. So with the help of Motif and Jane, John begins learning everything he can about childbirth. From shedding to episiotomies. All of that is difficult but fine. Until they get their hands on a video of “the Miracle of Life”. Midway through, escalating the last bit involving Andre, Andre comes in carrying a couch in a box by himself thinking Jane and Motif and eventually John are helping when they are not. He set the box down, looks at the TV and says, “hey, those are my parents”. Andre the obnoxious grass dealer is the Miracle of Life baby.
The last scene starts out well enough. John has educated himself as much as possible to prepare himself for watching Amanda (the Doula) do her job. Or in other words John is going to attend a home water birth. He even comes off well-meaning and prepared when he mentions that he brought a container for the placenta.
Amanda: Well, you’re like a Doula apprentice.
John: Well, whatever helps to create a calm and serene atmosphere for the baby to enter. Nothing’s going to spoil this moment.
(Lou Cannon slides into frame sitting down front and center next to John)
Lou: Wow, a home birth. You know they come out real slimy. Not all cute like on Murphy Brown.
John: LOU. The worst thing that someone can do at a birth is panic, but I am very concerned that you are here.
The entire episode, John Mulaney has been worried that some turn of events at this delivery was going to be his undoing. The prospect that he might see something that would turn him squeamish and he would embarrass himself or Amanda. Turns out he had nothing to worry about. Well, at least pertaining to the birth. Lou decides to tell and then show John about the thing he and Mary Jo did together to solve his ‘release’ problem. Then seeing Lou naked and Mary Jo naked was enough to make him pass out. Into the pool the pregnant mother is sitting in that will retain all of her and her baby’s bodily fluids. And there lies John face down in the delivery pool.