Change This Infant Show’s Diapers: A Review of Up All Night
- Monday, October 03, 2011
But Up lacks the genius of Tina Fey that gives 30 Rock the exquisitely calibrated screwball tone which keeps its stories and characters so funny. You feel Up All Night's scripts straining to find that frequency but falling short.
As my wife and I watched the first three episodes, we'd follow each week's show with an episode or two of the classic Dick Van Dyke Show on streaming Netflix, which was to the 1960s, what I Love Lucy was to the 1950s, that decade's quintessential domestic sitcom.
In Van Dyke's new autobiography, he recounts how the show creator Carl Reiner, knowing that human nature doesn't change, sought to make the show timeless by focusing on plots and behavior any generation would recognize.
With a brilliant cast including Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore and sometimes Reiner himself, the plots were frequently inspired by domestic experiences of the cast and writers themselves and thus stayed rooted in the audience's frame of reference.
Finding the humor potential in everyday life gave the Dick Van Dyke Show its initial success and longevity with succeeding generations of viewers. Up All Night might consider adjusting its premise to bring it character back down to earth.
This might be underway already. The third episode featured Ava in meltdown mode when her ex-boyfriend announces his engagement to another woman. Ava receives a news text on her smart phone announcing this while she's shooting an interview for her show, walks off the set and begins tearing up the control room.
Reagan tries to refrain her friend and boss from doing something everyone will regret. At the same time, Chris sees Reagan come home every night with anything but amour on her mind. His clumsy efforts to get her to slip into something sexier than her old maternity clothes backfires and she angrily consigns Chris to the doghouse.
Reagan is actually feeling what many women do after childbirth, like a deflated weather balloon, anything but sexy. By the end of the episode Ava has realized she's better off without her old boyfriend and counsels Reagan to go easy on Chris. "I may not be good at relationships," Ava quietly admits to Reagan, "but I am really good at helping other people with theirs. That's why they gave me my own show."
So there's hope that allowing the characters to be more grounded will allow this new comedy to rise up.
*This article first published 10/3/2011
**Watch Up All Night Wednesdays on NBC
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