Stars: Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph
Writer: Emily Spivey
Director: James Griffiths
Network: NBC, airs Wednesday nights
Original Telecast: September 14, 2011
It’s been a tough road for NBC the last couple of years what with mergers and executive turnovers, but the new comedy UP ALL NIGHT could potentially turn things around.
A clever comedy that’s hinged on a familiar concept (parents of a newborn must cope with their new baby-filled life) is elevated with the excellent casting of Christina Applegate and Will Arnett. Additionally it has the rich pedigree of former SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE writer Emily Spivey who created the series and brought along former SNL star Maya Rudolph to help prop up the cast (and stories).
One of the biggest problems with any new series, particularly comedies, is that all the best lines, scenes and dialogues have been spoiled by the constant commercials throughout the summer. Hence, there aren’t a lot of surprises in the “Pilot” episode that we haven’t already seen. In fact, it makes watching it very disjointed, because the familiar stuff is inherently better than the other stuff that’s leftover.
Applegate and Arnett star as Reagan and Chris Brinkley – brand new parents to a baby who are used to the wild life, but now are trying to ease into baby life. Chris quit is law firm to be a stay at home dad, while Reagan continues to work for a daytime TV show headed by an Oprah-like diva Ava (Rudolph).
The episode is very choppy – taking us form “I’m pregnant” to baby arrival in less than a minute. The office stuff with Ava sticks out like a sore thumb too, because it was reworked from the pilot to not only change the Ava character’s profession, but to also give Rudolph an opportunity to do what she does best.
Still, this disjointed nature is actually quite refreshing, because it offers up a strange sort of intimacy you don’t get on comedies of the nature. Spivey has reinvented the comedy wheel just enough that UP ALL NIGHT isn’t predictable nor is it boring.
It also has three great performers headlining it. Both Applegate and Arnett bring a comfortable charm to their domesticity. They’re great together. Applegate’s funny and sweet, without being abrasive, while Arnett is perhaps his most grounded and normal he’s ever been. It doesn’t take away his bite, it actually makes him even more engaging.
And Rudolph is a delight. It’s clear her character is in the growing pangs of being redeveloped, but it was the right direction to change her in. This will lead to some amazing comedy later.
Strangely, NBC is using UP ALL NIGHT to anchor Wednesday night, even though it would be much better fit for its Thursday night line-up. Let’s hope this strategy pays off, because I see great things ahead of UP ALL NIGHT. It’s a funny comedy – not crass or self-referential and it gets so many things right, I hope it lasts long enough to prove how great it could potentially become.
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Article: TV Review – Up All Night – Season 1 – “Pilot”