September 22, 2011


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot in the spring and production of episodes for the regular season:  a writing/producing team is hired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover in the off-season) give plenty of notes, both helpful and otherwise, and critics begin to rear their ugly heads.  The results can include changes to tone, pace, casting and even story.  Here at THE SKED, we’re going to look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular episodes of this year’s new series as well.
Previously… on UP ALL NIGHT:  Reagan (Christina Applegate) and Chris (Will Arnett) are a formerly fun-loving couple who are delighted to be new parents, but appalled by what it’s doing to their lifestyles.  Christina is producer of a wacky afternoon talk show hosted by her best friend Ava (Maya Rudolph), while Chris works from home so he can take care of the baby.
Episode 2:  Up All Night was one of the few pilots to undergo a major change after the Fall Schedule was announced.  In the original version of the pilot, Reagan and Ava worked at a PR agency, but that’s been changed to the talk show millieu.  (Nick Cannon and Jennifer Hall, whose characters work at the show, are listed as guest stars, although they seem intended as regulars.)  The idea may have been to accommodate Rudolph’s extravagant comic persona (not coincidentally, one of her go-to characters on Saturday Night Live was her dynamite version of Oprah), but there’s now a dichotomy in the tone of the show.  The scenes between Applegate and Arnett are very low-key and observational–they’re close to a more comic version of Parenthood–while the Rudolph sequences seem to have wandered in from 30 Rock, particularly since Rudolph’s Ava is precariously close to Jane Krakowski’s Jenna.  
Episode 2, written by Caroline Williams, demonstrates this split.  The main story is about Reagan and Chris wanting to impress their new cool neighbors, but finding they’ve become “those people” who complain about loud music and not-so-ironically listen to Train–it’s OK, though, because the reveal is that cool as the neighbors seem, they’re soon going to have a baby of their own, which means they won’t be hip for much longer.  Alongside that is the Ava story, in which she obsesses that the baby doesn’t love her as everyone must, and insists on buying the child a wallet and change purse for “baby money”.  This story actually has a nice ending with Rudolph and the baby that doesn’t go over the top, but clearly the balance between the two kinds of performing and writing will be the show’s big challenge.
Up All Night is still a superior show, and Applegate and Arnett are terrific together.  But even if it can work out its schizophrenia, it’s not going to be a “big” show, and we’ll see tomorrow if it can hold its own in a very difficult 8PM slot, required to open up the night for NBC against major competition.
Original Verdict:  Potential DVR Alert
Pilot + 1:  Still Looking Good


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."