Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fall TV Preview: Up All Night

Will Arnett, Christine Applegate; source: TV

Another new show launched tonight on NBC called Up All Night. Starring Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, and Maya Rudolph, the show is about how new parents Applegate and Arnett are dealing with their new daughter while Applegate is also adjusting to working again and Arnett is a stay-at-home dad.

There is a lot of typical parental humor here, the sort of thing that was done for a long time with Mad About You. And I was a big fan of Mad About You. The character here aren't as distinctive (yet?) as Paul and Jaimie Buchman but it might be good given time. Naturally, I've got some experience with the scenario of the show, so I am sympathetic with the possibilities that might come through in future episodes.

The largest potential for comedy outside of the frazzled parents and screaming baby stuff is the role of Maya Rudolph. Her character (Ava) is Applegate's boss. Ava is clearly meant to be an Oprah clone--a domineering and slightly unhinged talk show host who relies on Applegate to book shows and keep the office chaos (which Ava usually instigates) under control. Think the dynamic between 30 Rock's Tracy Jordan and Liz Lemon and you know what I'm talking about.

The show is on NBC and plays off some of the same 30 Rock elements that I like there. While they aren't wandering around 30 Rockefeller Center, Applegate's character did imagine that the Today Show's Matt Lauer was giving her advice through the television set as she got ready for work her first day back. (I love how Brian Williams is always a goad in the side of the TGS crew on 30 Rock and maybe (if we're lucky) Lauer can play a similar role in Applegate's sleep deprived mind?

Will Arnett isn't playing crazy Gob Bluth in this role, which is probably a good thing as he needs to be a bit more normal to be successful? His character is a former lawyer who gave up his job to be the stay at home dad. (If only he was as famous as John Lennon?) There is sure to be plenty of episodes where that resentment rears up in future Emmy bait episodes, but for now his funniest scene was desperately calling his wife from the grocery store because he (and the baby) couldn't find the "normal cheese" even though he was told it was right next to the eggs. In the end he failed and came home with the "fancy cheese" near the salad bar.

While I'm not nearly so inept, I understood at least a bit of the frustration of wandering around in the grocery store, trying to locate that one thing that you just can't see. Layer on some baby-induced exhaustion and I get what is going on.

So, I think Up All Night has some potential to be occasionally funny. I'll keep watching for a bit.

Channel: NBC
Night: Wednesday, debuted September 14th
Time: 8-8:30

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