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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Up All Night giving "Birth"

     NBC's Up All Night made episode six, "Birth," very special by setting it months before the series begins. Reagan (Christina Applegate) is preparing to have Amy, and sets up a very detailed birthing plan. When she goes into labor early, things begin going wrong. First, she forgets her bag. Then, her doctor is unavailable, so the young, attractive Dr. Goddard (Sam Page, Mad Men, Shark) fills in. It doesn't help that Ava (Maya Rudolph) is still in denial about the whole situation. But luckily Chris (Will Arnett), who plans on taking just a short leave from work, keeps calm.

     It's interesting to see the characters prior to how they've been seen thus far. Of course, they are the same people viewers are already getting to know, and there aren't too many surprises. Ava still is clueless about the world, and has problems coping with things. Chris has his priorities in order, whether they be a job or a baby, and can roll with the punches. Reagan is a control freak, but can also adapt when she needs to.

     The cosmetic changes, through unimportant to the overall formula, are why "Birth" is fun. Ava has an old announcer who annoys her, and jokes that her driver, Calvin (Nick Cannon) could do a better job. Those who watch the first few episodes of Up All Night know that Calvin does, indeed, get the occupational change, and will soon be on stage alongside Ava. We also get to see that Chris is actually quite great at a career, but the moment his daughter is born, he realizes he is plenty willing to give it up out of love for his child. It highlights just what a good man he is.

     Less funny is Missy (Jennifer Hall, now a series regular) trying to get Ava to the hospital. Perhaps it's because the character of Missy is more pathetic than humorous, and she lets herself be walked all over, but it's hard to laugh at her. Hall commits fully, so it's hard to blame the actress. Yet, it just seems cruel to find her sad ways funny, and so, in feeling bad for her, it kind of ruins the jokes. Even the gag when Ava cuts Missy's hair falls flat. It's a wonder the series decides to upgrade the character, and potentially a mistake to do so.

     In all, "Birth" is less successful than other show's flashbacks, and thus, a disappointment. It has good moments, and things worth seeing, but perhaps those could have been inserted in a present day story, as stretching the plot for an entire episodes feels forced. Too bad. The "Pilot" was so promising.

     Up All Night airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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     To catch up on episodes of Up All Night that you missed, please click here.

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