October 29, 2012

THE SKED: “Up All Night” 4.0–This Is A Real Thing


Once upon a time, there was a single-camera sitcom pilot at NBC called UP ALL NIGHT.  It was the story of Reagan and Chris Brinkley (Christina Applegate and Will Arnett), who had to cope with becoming new parents and the resulting loss of their “coolness” factor.  Chris was a stay-at-home dad, while Reagan worked at a PR agency with her best friend Ava (Maya Rudolph).  By the time the series reached the air in fall 2011, Ava was the host of an afternoon TV talk-show, and Reagan was her producer.  When the show’s second season premiered just a few weeks ago, Ava’s show had been cancaled, Reagan was a stay-at-home mom, and Chris had gotten a new job working with Reagan’s previously unseen brother Scott (Luka Jones)–and behind the scenes, new showrunner Tucker Cawley (best known for his work on Everyone Loves Raymond) had been brought in to work with series creator Emily Spivey.

None of this particularly worked, and this season Up All Night hasn’t gotten higher than 1.4 in the ratings.  However, with the A-list talent involved (not to mention uber-Executive Producer Lorne Michaels), NBC isn’t ready to give up, and today it announced yet another transformation.  After the current run of episodes are done in December, Up All Night will go off the air until at least April, when it will return… as a multi-camera sitcom.  That new version will have a 5-episode run (NBC also increased the year’s order from 13 to 16 episodes.)  The network is currently madly spinning the experience all concerned have in doing live and/or multi-camera projects (Applegate hosted SNL this season!  And she didn’t suck!), but this is clearly a Hail Mary.  The problems of tone and sheer lack of laughs that have beset the show from the start won’t be fixed by the presence of a live audience or a lack of location shooting; all we can expect is that the new Up will be broader and more geographically confined.  It will, in fact, probably look and feel quite a bit like Guys With Kids, with which it would be an obvious hour-mate… assuming Guys lasts that long.

Meanwhile, the temporary absence of Up All Night and the scheduled end of 30 Rock‘s final season means that come January, NBC’s Thursday 8-9PM hour will be wide open.  Assuming the network decides to keep it a 4-sitcom night, competitors for the 2 slots will include the return of COMMUNITY and the new 1600 PENN and SAVE ME(There’s also the Dwight spinoff from The Office cooking off in the distance.)  Update:  NBC has decided to pass on The Farm, the planned Office spin-off–the pilot will air as an episode of the Office, but it won’t go further than that.  None of these are likely to turn things around for the Peacock on Thursdays.  But hey, if all else fails, the network can always shove in another hour of THE VOICE.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."