Some sitcoms have to rely on laugh-laugh-laughs to keep you hooked; they’re joke machines. Up All Night is more of a character sitcom: If you like the people in it, chances are, you’ll like the show. Which is one way of saying that, while I didn’t always laugh my tail off at this new show, I liked the characters a lot, and want to see how they develop. Which in turn could lead to a richer, more satisfying sitcom experience over the long haul.
Christina Applegate and Will Arnett as panicky new parents Regan and Chris captured the sometimes-elated, sometimes-exasperated exhaustion of having a new tiny person in the house. The show, created by Emily Spivey, is trying to capture that transitional moment that’s not often addressed for more than one episode in other sitcoms: The period in which a couple must abandon old, possibly enjoyable habits (staying up late, partying, just laying around idly, reading) and adopt new, unfamiliar ones (civility while sleep-deprived, remembering that just because the baby is wearing fresh clothes doesn’t mean you remembered to wear some yourself).
About Maya Rudolph: After the pilot was shot, someone obviously took a look at this thing — and, I would bet, at the movie Bridesmaids — and said, hey, you know who the funniest person really is in this show? Maya Rudolph, initially cast as the head of a P.R. firm Regan works for. So the producers changed and expanded Rudolph’s role, or at least that’s the way it seemed to me in watching both versions. Now Rudolph plays Ava, a rather Oprah-like talk-show host who makes her employees tremble in the wake of her powerful we-are-all-wonderful-but-I-am-more-wonderful-than-you philosophy.
Up All Night will have to take care that Rudolph doesn’t run away with the show. It’s done such a good job of giving us a new aspect of Will Arnett — a less self-absorbed, nutty side of his acting — and has enabled Applegate to be even more of a madcap than she was in Samantha Who?, that I have confidence that Up All Night will integrate Rudolph’s Ada eruptions without having them push the baby stuff to the margins of the series.
All in all, it’s off to a good start, don’t you think?