May 15, 2011

THE SKED: 1st Pre-Look At NBC’s New Fall Comedies – UPDATED

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Written by: Mitch Salem


DISCLAIMER: These initial impressions are based on the clips (usually 3-5 minutes) released by the networks to use in their Upfront presentations and for promos.  They’re chosen to sell the show, not to accurately represent it.  So take the reactions below with a large satchel of salt–we may well feel differently about these shows once we see the full pilots.  That being said, it’s also true that these clips are carefully selected to give the best impression possible of a show–if it still doesn’t look great, that may not bode well. 

Clips are available, among other places, at

UPDATE 5/16:  NBC has now released the longer–and slicker–trailers for the shows that were unveiled at today’s Upfront presentation.

UP ALL NIGHT (Wed 8PM):  The network clearly has confidence in this single-camera sitcom written by Emily Spivey (Parks & Recreation) and produced by Lorne Michaels, since they’re using it to introduce comedy on a night where they’ll likely be facing off against The Middle and X-Factor.  The premise has Christina Applegate and Will Arnett as a hard-partying couple who have to change their lives to deal with parenthood, with Maya Rudolph as Applegate’s boss, who isn’t a good influence.  The jokes in the clips pretty much all hit the note of how much the couple misses their old lives, and how tough it is to get up in the morning to deal with a baby (not to mention the eternal sight gag of diaper-changing).  Nothing particularly distinctive, but Applegate and Arnett (much toned down from his Running Wilde persona) seem to have good chemistry.  Lots of new footage in the trailer, but not a ton of new laughs.  The oh-god-we-have-a-baby joke will only go so far, and it’s clear this one will ride on the appeal of Applegate and Arnett.
FREE AGENTS (Wed 8:30PM):  This will follow Up All Night on Wednesdays, and the shows (this one is written by John Enbom of Party Down) seem compatible:  Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn are co-workers with romantic tension.  Like Applegate and Arnett, Azaria and Hahn seem appealing together, although when you’re doing an office comedy on NBC, you’re going to get compared to The Office, Parks & Recreation and 30 Rock, so the bar is pretty high.  If this show is anything but pleasant people quipping at each other, they’re not proving it yet.  The trailer doesn’t prove it either–looks like Azaria and Hahn and a lot of pedestrian sit-com content.
WHITNEY (Thurs 9:30PM):   NBC is holding 30 Rock off the Fall schedule to make space for this show. It’s a slightly odd fit with Community, Parks & Recreation and The Office because they’re all single-camera shows and this one is multi-camera, with live (and not-necessarily-live) audience laughter on the soundtrack.  The stand-up comic Whitney Cummings (a busy lady who also co-created the new 2 Broke Girls for CBS) both wrote the pilot and stars with Chris D’Elia as a longterm unmarried couple –it seems to be sort of Mad About You without the ring.  It certainly feels better than other recent NBC relationship shows like Perfect Couples, and the clips have some laughs, but there’s nothing DVR-worthy about what we’re being shown so far.  The laugh track is even more annoying in the trailer, and the extra footage doesn’t offer anything more promising than the clips.





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."