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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Up All Night - "Pilot"

     While technically NBC's new sitcom Up All Night premieres next Wednesday, the pilot aired last night at a special time. Starring Christina Applegate (Samantha Who?, Married With Children) and Will Arnett (30 Rock, Arrested Development), the series follows two brand new parents, who weren't exactly expecting a child. Reagan (Applegate) is a career woman who basically single-handedly runs the talk show Ava, while Chris (Arnett) is going to be a stay-at-home dad for their new bundle of joy. Add to the mix Reagan's best friend slash boss, Ava (Maya Rudolph, Saturday Night Live), who doesn't quite understand why the couple can't party like they used to, and there is the makings of an interesting, fresh series here.

     Rudolph is perfect, as she almost always is, as an Oprah-like host. She's larger than life, with an immaturity that makes her reckless actions somewhat endearing. Reagan is her Gayle, confidant, always by her side, and up for anything. With the arrival of baby Amy, this isn't so much the case any more. Reagan tries to make Ava happy, but eventually learns to say no, as she must to keep her sanity. Thankfully, Ava takes the news well, understanding that priorities must shift, and appears ready to adjust, too. After all, while Reagan was on maternity leave, the series practically falls apart. It's better to have some Regan than no Reagan.

     Applegate brings the same charm she has in her previous series, but with a bit more maturity. After all, she can't run around and be crazy on this show. Reagan has responsibilities. Too many, it seems, when she hears Matt Lauer (himself) talking to her from her television set. Applegate is able to convey that Reagan cares about both work and home life, and is searching for a balance that only a fully grown adult can find.

     Surprisingly, Arnett rounds out the trio well. Though the man can definitely do funny, his character are usually over the top. On an ensemble-less show, that would be far too much to take on a weekly basis. Instead, he plays Chris as a caring, loving husband and doting father. Chris can take care of the baby, and knows how to relax without burning out. Believe it or not, he actually shows better judgment than Reagan, encouraging her not to party too hard on their anniversary... though he sticks around when she doesn't listen, both of them paying the price the next morning.

     Because of Ava's obvious close relationship to the couple, Up All Night is actually about three people adjusting to a newborn who suddenly has a huge impact on all of their lives', rather than just following the parents. It's an interesting concept that might not work in lesser hands. But all three performers are completely solid, and have wonderful chemistry. As such, it's a delightful little treat of a show. Not sure where it's heading for the long-term, but for now, watching this trio just get by is enough to keep viewers interested. Bravo.

     If you missed the pilot, please click here to view it for free.

     Next week Up All Night moves to its regular time, 8 p.m. ET Wednesdays on NBC.

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