Christina Applegate and Will Arnett are both parents in real life which, one would assume, makes them uniquely qualified to take on the role of mom and dad to a newborn in NBC’s latest entrant into the funny family category, “Up All Night.”
Applegate plays Reagan, a career-focused hip chick trying to reconcile mommyhood into her self-image as she returns to work after maternity leave. Arnett is the somewhat childlike husband, Chris, who gives up his job at a law firm to do the stay-at-home dad thing. Both of them seem somewhat shell-shocked by parenthood and not yet ready to give up their pre-kid party pasts.
Maya Rudolph co-stars as Ava, Applegate’s super-demanding boss — an Oprah-like talk-show host with an ego the size of Chicago (and a sidekick in the form of — wait for it! — Nick Cannon). Rudolph’s character had originally been a PR exec, but in August show creator Emily Spivey said changes were made to allow more comedic opportunities for Rudolph’s character. Think of her as a kind of female version of “30 Rock’s” Jack Donaghy — totally self-centered, but there for Reagan in a pinch.
With a dream-team cast (Cannons excepted), we were really pulling for “Up All Night” to totally win. That just didn’t happen. While there’s definite potential in the show, there were a few things about it that just didn’t work.
Believability: Since some of us happen to have the products of our own experiments in baby-making at home, we can totally identify with Reagan and Chris’ existential crisis. But by the time three months with baby unfolds, you’ve pretty much made peace with the fact that your all-nighters at the karaoke bar are a thing of the past.
In the pilot, Reagan and Chris decide to call in a sitter so they can go on a spur-of-the-moment late-night bender to celebrate their anniversary. We’re all for taking breaks when possible, but please point us in the direction of the babysitter who doesn’t mind coming over after 9 p.m. and staying through several baby wake-ups until the wee hours of the morning when you stumble in drunk. Also, not to get graphic or anything, but we’re going to assume Reagan isn’t breastfeeding.
Is Will Arnett under-used? Unless his character has a major arc in store, we’re a little worried that Arnett’s talent is being squandered here. This is the guy who held his own opposite Alec Baldwin as “30 Rock’s” recurring bad guy Devon Banks and played the fabulously self-involved (and magical) Gob Bluth on FOX’s “Arrested Development.” We don’t want to see the guy relegated to fish-out-of-water trips to the grocery store and a hole-y T-shirt. Give the man something to work with here — a randy neighbor, anything.
Is the premise sustainable? It’s a show about first-time parents coping with the bumpy adjustment into familyhood. That adjustment only lasts so long and before you know it, the kid’s off to college and all that time you had before the kid arrived becomes a happy memory, one you store next to the new happy memories with kid in tow. And, unlike Maggie Simpson, baby Amy can’t stay forever young. If the show’s going to stick around, it needs to diversify. Or, you know, Reagan and Chris need to get into Duggar mode and have a kid a year for the duration of the series.
“Up All Night” premieres at 10 p.m. ET Wednesday, Sept. 14 on NBC and moves its regular 8 p.m. Wednesday time on Sept. 21.
Will you watch? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.