Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review - Up All Night

Up All Night has one of the strongest casts of the new shows this season, heralding three true comedy veterans: Christina Applegate, who has been starring on television on and off since she was a teenager (you may not know that Married With Children was not her first regular series role: she previously co-starred on the ABC drama Heart of the City).  Later series included NBC's Jesse, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award, an Emmy-winning guest stint on NBC's Friends and most recently the ABC series Samantha Who?, for which she was nominated for both a Golden Globe and 2 Emmy Awards.

Co-starring alongside Applegate is Will Arnett (husband of Parks & Recreation's Amy Poehler).  Best known as George "Gob" Bluth II on the critical and fan favorite FOX series Arrested Development, Arnett has also leant his voice to the animated series Freak Show (Comedy Central) and Sit Down Shut Up (FOX), guest starred as Alec Baldwin's nemesis on NBC's 30 Rock and most recently starred opposite Keri Russell on the FOX series Running Wilde.  

Joining the couple on screen is Saturday Night Live alum Maya Rudolph, coming fresh off the hilarious summer blockbuster Bridesmaids. Rudolph also played a nurse on two CBS series, Chicago Hope and City of Angels and co-starred on the NBC series Kath & Kim.
Applegate and Arnett star as Reagan and Chris, 30-something parents to new baby Amy who find parenthood to be far more than they ever bargained or prepared for.  Very 2011 is Reagan being the breadwinner of the family - producer for a talk show - while Chris is a stay-at-home dad, a common trend of today's modern families. Real-life parents themselves, both stars no doubt have a lot of personal experience to draw on for their characters.

As for the characters, they are very credible and their dialogue feels like actual conversation as opposed to setup-punch-setup-punch.  It feels like you are looking into a real home with real people having real discussions, from finding out they were having the baby to Reagan's going back to work vs. Chris' staying at home to arguing about who has stayed up more with the baby at night.  "At least you don't have to work," comments Reagan.  "Yeah, cause raising a human's no work at all," retorts Chris.  I'm sure stay-at-home parents raised an "amen" to that zinger. 

Rudolph's Ava - Reagan's Oprah-esque boss - is a great catalyst to the couple, especially her inability to relate to their new parental existence.  She often shows up to their home bright-eyed and bushy-haired, ready to party, while Reagan and Chris barely cling to sanity due to lack of sleep.  She gets to be the larger-than-life character, giving nice balance to the trio.

From a Matt Lauer cameo (Reagan believes he's talking to her through the TV) to bleeped-out swearing (making the couple realize they should probably curb the cussing) to a wrestling match with the scarily strong infant, Up All Night is charmingly humble, offering a refreshing, chuckle-worthy perspective to the standard family sitcom landscape.
Bottom line:  Straight "Up" good viewing fun.

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

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