Thursday, October 6, 2011

Applegate and Arnett are great in Up All Night

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TV Show Review: Up All Night
Cast: Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph, Nick Cannon
Genre: Comedy
Network: NBC

On October 6, NBC announced that the freshman comedy, Free Agents, had received the dubious distinction to be the second of the 2011 season of fall shows to be cancelled (The Playboy Club was first, also NBC). Ironically, its next-door neighbor, Up All Night, shown before Free Agents, has been picked up for the entire season. What a difference a half hour makes.

Up All Night is/was definitely the better of the two. When the Hank Azaria comedy wasn’t over-the-top, it was offensive. Up All Night has a refreshing premise – a new family – but despite the eight o’clock hour, its not a family show. Created by Emily Spivey (NBC’s Parks and Recreation and Saturday Night Live), Up All Night stars Christina Applegate (the former airhead brat of Married with Children and sweetheart of the more recent Samantha Who) and Will Arnett (Arrested Development) as a married couple who probably waited a little too long to have their first child. Set in their freestyle ways they are realizing that they need to be more mature and act like parents. This tends to cramp their style and possibly risk their “cool” status.

Reagan (Applegate) works full time as a producer for the talk show while Chris (Arnett) has decided to put his work as a lawyer on hold to serve as the stay-at-home dad. Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids) plays, Ava, talk show host and boss of Reagan. Nick Cannon is thrown into the cast for no apparent reason. (I like the guy, but he is wasted here.)

Ironically, for a show about parenthood, Amy the baby is hardly ever shown. In fact, the baby element of the show seems almost like an after thought. You have to wonder if the writers actually have any kids themselves. The storyline of the pilot centered a lot about the fears one has about being a new parent. For the most part, this storyline has been dropped, which is a shame since the show gets a lot of its charm from that angle. Instead, the couple worry about not being the “cool” neighbors or not owning a “cool” car. Although not addressed, Reagan must not be breastfeeding Amy since she is seen drinking a little too much wine in each episode which leads her to make bad purchasing decisions on the internet.

The common thread of each episode appears to be the fact that the couple is “up all night” but not necessarily with the baby. The couple could be trying to impress the neighbors and working late for Ava. Although hilarious, Ava’s character is shown a lot more than one would expect. She is just as demanding as she is shallow. The talk show storyline could be a show in itself.

All in all, Up All Night is pretty lightweight material but fun to watch, but it could be better. Some of television’s best comedies are based on some of the most mundane storylines (Seinfeld anyone?) Hopefully Up All Night will embrace some of the simpler things about parenting and give the show a little more heart too.

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