The pilot for Fox's Mulaney features one of the show's two stand-up comedian characters struggling to write a joke that sets up what the comic has already decided will be his catchphrase punchline.
In the same way, the series — created by and starring John Mulaney, a former Saturday Night Live writer and one of the sharpest, funniest stand-up comedians working today — has all the ingredients needed to create laughs, but it just can't seem to find a consistent way to deliver them.
Fall TV: Check out all the must-see new shows
Not surprisingly, the best parts of the early episodes feature Mulaney doing his stand-up routine for the live audience in front of his darkened apartment set. (Yes, it's a weird setting, but go with it.) But when the action shifts...
Rupert Friend, Claire Danes
If last season (and the last parts of the season before) left you wanting to run away from Showtime's Homeland, the good news is that it's safe to come back. The show may never again achieve the intensely suspenseful and emotional heights of year one, with its psychosexual tango between Carrie and the enigmatic war hero/possible terrorist tool Brody, and I'm still not convinced that basket-case analyst Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) should be posted anywhere hotter than Antarctica. But this Emmy-winning international spy thriller suddenly feels much more topical and urgent again in its fourth season, where the only remaining remnant of the Brody storyline is the infant daughter — a ginger baby, naturally (hauntingly Damian Lewis in aspect) — whom Carrie bore after witnessing the father's cruel fate.
Vinessa Shaw, Liev Schreiber
[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from the Season 2 finale of Ray Donovan. Read at your own risk.]
Some people just don't know when to quit.
On the Season 2 finale of Ray Donovan...
Jada Pinkett Smith, Robin Lord Taylor
Gotham City to the rescue? Fox certainly hopes Gotham, its dark and stylish noir set in the corrupt, broken pre-Batman metropolis, will revive the fortunes of a network undergoing one of its most significant leadership transitions. (The architect of this fall's schedule, Kevin Reilly, stepped down in late May, and Dana Walden and Gary Newman, the Fox Studio heads who will take over network oversight in a more streamlined operation, won't start their new positions until the end of the month.)
The Gotham panel was the first and most impressive new-series presentation on Fox's day at the TCA press tour. (For more Fox news, go here.) With its revisionist twist on Batman mythology as it spills out origin stories featuring various supervillains-to-be, Gotham is the buzziest show on Fox's fall slate — airing on Mondays alongside breakout hit Sleepy Hollow won't hurt — but it's not without risk.
Emmy-winning actress Ann-Margret will recur on Season 2 of Ray Donovan, Showtime announced on Monday.
Ann-Margret will play June Wilson, a major star back in her day who has a past with Ezra Goldman (Elliott Gould), the boss of Ray (Liev Schreiber).
Penny Marshall and Lorraine Bracco have signed on for Fox's Mulaney, TVGuide.com has confirmed.
Based on the life of John Mulaney, who will also write and star in the comedy, Mulaney follows...
Nasim Pedrad, Elliot Gould, Seaton Smith and Zack Pearlman have joined the cast of Fox's multi-camera comedy Mulaney, TVGuide.com has learned.
Based on the life of...
Liev Schreiber realizes it's ironic that he's chosen to meet for lunch at a downtown Manhattan café called the Smile. "Ray Donovan doesn't smile — it's not my fault!" he says with a laugh. "[Showtime president] David Nevins said to me, 'Could you maybe find a place to smile?' 'I had no idea I had permission. You want me to? I'll smile!' So you'll notice a bit more smiling."
The 45-year-old actor certainly has reason to grin these days:
Fixer, fix thyself. Easier said than done in the gaudy cesspool of soul-sucking mendacity we call Hollywood, where Ray Donovan plies his gruff trade as the strong and silent go-to problem-solver of the stars. Showtime's Ray Donovan (Sunday, 10/9c), the summer's best and boldest new show, is a Scandal for the serious-minded: outrageously compelling and teeming with sinister surprise, yet never seeming crazily sensational as it goes to emotional and violent extremes.
Liev Schreiber is joking that he could use a Ray Donovan right about now. The title character Schreiber plays on Showtime's new drama is a fixer for the Los Angeles elite — the guy you call when your agent, lawyer, manager, publicist, Pilates instructor and raw-food chef can't help you with a crisis. A high-priced-hooker habit? A taste for drugs? A gorgeous corpse in the bathtub? That's when Ray steps in with a plan.