Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Up All Night, season 1 (2011-12) ***

NR, 24 23-min. episodes
Creator: Emily Spivey
Directors: James Griffiths, Randall Einhorn, Troy Miller, Joe Russo, Jay Chandrasekhar, Michael Blieden, Beth McCarthy-Miller
Writers: Emily Spivey, Caroline Williams, Erica Rivinoja, Tim McAuliffe, Tucker Cawley, David Iserson, Alex Reid, Brian Rowe
Starring: Christina Applegate, Maya Rudolph, Jennifer Hall, Will Arnett, Jean Villipique, Mat Braunger, Jason Lee, Nick Cannon, Steven Pasquale, Chris Diamantopoulos, Will Forte, Molly Shannon, Megan Mullally, Blythe Danner, Eve Best

The term ‘bubble’ gets thrown around a great deal at this time of year in respect to television shows. Shows that are “on the bubble” are ones the may or may not get renewed for the next season. There’s often a group of shows that lead the pack and there’s no chance they’re going to be cancelled unless the producers have chosen to end it. Other shows are quite obviously going to be cancelled because of their poor ratings, or have already in fact been cancelled. All of the rest of the shows are “on the bubble.”

One of this season’s shows that is on the bubble but has finished up its season is the NBC comedy “Up All Night”, starring Christina Applegate (“Married with Children”), Maya Rudolph (“Saturday Night Live”) and Will Arnett (“Arrested Development”). It’s a good show. It isn’t one of my favorite new shows, but it’s solid. It has a good cast, good guest stars, and doesn’t pander to typical sitcom formulas.

When the show was being promoted last summer I had the impression it was going to be very different than it actually turned out. The promos suggested that it would be a comedic exposé on just how difficult it is to be a parent in this day and age. With a couple that had obviously come to parenting later in their relationship, the pre-airing adds suggested that the show would be all about those dirty little secrets no one ever tells you about being a parent.

My favorite spot had the couple admiring their new baby when the woman suddenly gets a horrified look on her face. “Have you fed the cat?” she says, or something like that. “We have a cat?” he says, “Oh my God. I forgot all about the cat.” They start to panic, searching around. “How long has it been?” she asks. He’s really starting to panic, “I don’t know, like two weeks!” The End. That one just cracked me up.

I was a little disappointed to find the show shift away from that type of comedy and more into adult relationship comedy, much of it involving the woman’s boss (Rudolph), a diva daytime talk show host. But, the great cast keeps it fun and feeling fresh. At first, the writers didn’t seem to know what to do with Rudolph, but as the season went on she started to fit in and by the end they had a pretty solid sitcom family formed. I really like the way the writers have allowed the husband (Arnett) to shine. Arnett has long been a fairly underrated comedy actor, who stole much of the episodes of “Arrested Development”. It’s nice to see him getting treated to the leading status he deserves. I hope the show makes the cut, so we can enjoy more of this great cast.

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