Fall 2011 Review: Up All Night

15 Sep

Up All Night is a sitcom about a couple, Will Arnett and Christina Applegate in their late ‘30s/early 40s, whose life is changed when they have a baby.  Arnett’s character leaves his law job to care for the baby while Applegate’s character goes back to work for her wacky and overbearing boss, Ellen/Oprah-like daytime talk show host Ava, portrayed by Maya Rudolph.

I came in expecting the show to be disappointing, and I found the show in practice to be underwhelming, and I’m still not sure if these are the same thing.  While the blogosphere lit up in excitement for a show that combined the considerable talents of Will Arnett, Christina Applegate and Maya Rudolph, I was less impressed, having never seen Arnett as successful outside of playing the oversized G.O.B. in Arrested Development, a character who can’t work as a lead in a non-absurdist show.

Yet this wasn’t the problem with the show at all.  Arnett was absolutely fine, as were Applegate and Rudolph.  I don’t mean fine as a bad thing.  It’s not that they didn’t sell the lines or the jokes well, it’s just that there wasn’t that much to sell.  It was by no means bad with a capital b; unlike watching the previews of Whitney or 2 Broke Girls or the poster of How to Be A Gentleman I never cringed or felt bad for the actors and the producers and everyone who made the decision to put that particularly show on the air.  I just didn’t really feel anything.  There were a couple of smiles, I’d admit, maybe a chuckle or two but not much more.  I was waiting for it to gel and get to the point where the light turns on and I know why I’m watching but it just didn’t hit that point in the first episode.

I will note that Maya Rudolph’s character has the potential to become very cartoonish very quickly.  As the outsized television host personality, Rudolph is needy, loud, and a little bit off her rocker and is clearly looking to be the break out character.  I normally dislike that type of exaggerated sitcom character but while I by no means found it hilarious, it didn’t bother me too much either in this episode.  That said, it’s something to watch for and see how the writers handle in future episodes.

Will I watch again?  Not right away, I don’t think..  I’ll take the Parks and Recreation route.  When I watched the pilot, I wasn’t impressed and I didn’t watch the rest of the season.  When everyone I have ever met told me it was different and better and that I NEEDED to watch it, I gave in, and everyone was absolutely right and it’s one of the best comedies on TV today.  That is to say I’m going to assume it’s just kind of okay unless I hear an outpouring of raves later in the season; it could need time to grow into its own.

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