I have now seen two episodes of the new NBC comedy Up All Night, and while I really, really reallllllllllly want to love it, alas, I do not. I laughed out loud, hard, eight times while watching the season premiere of Raising Hope. For Up All Night, the laugh total was zero. I didn’t even feel that amused thing in your tummy where there’s a little ball of joyful emotions, but no sound comes out. Truly, all I felt was embarrassment, and annoyance.
It’s clear NBC is pumped for Up All Night – the commercials are so shiny, the production value is obviously very high. Aside from the big-name stars (Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph), the look of the show is very crisp. So far though, the writing is poor. I adore Arnett and Rudolph (I hope she hears my plea to be BFFs). They are both mentally insane-funny. They have that unstable aura – at any moment they’re gonna do something WHACK. But here, they are frenetic, and it’s tiresome. Rudolph’s character, talk-show host Ava, (kinda like Oprah) is supposed to be hilariously out of touch with the real world, and in love with herself, yet so far none of that has elicited an actual laugh from me. Applegate and Arnett’s energy and spasticness is bugging me. Watching them spank each other and dance lamely in front of a window because they thought their new neighbor couldn’t see them (oh surprise, he totally saw) was just gross and stupid beyond belief, not funny. I found the premise of this show (happily married couple unexpectedly has a child in their early 30s) to be really promising, and the promos were hilarious, but it’s not gelling for me – yet. The thing is, I like the stars and the idea enough to keep watching; that is, if others do the same and NBC has enough faith to give it a little time (which I’m going to assume it does, given the shit-ton of ads I see constantly. Sidenote: I always feel bad for the slew of shows that networks don’t promote. They’re like little abandoned babies).
Comedies take time to find their “groove.” Some will never find it, for others it comes quicker (The Office, 30 Rock), but my point is, it’s never immediate. The audience needs to become familiar with the characters and situations, and also the particular kind of humor a show is offering up – broad, niche, raunch, family friendly, etc.
I think Parks & Recreation is a perfect example of this phenomena. The first season felt (to me, at least), like it was trying to be The Office in a government building. The second season had the storylines and characters finding and solidifying their footing, while the third absolutely blew my mind. I can no longer imagine my life without the delightful absurdity of Tom Haverford and Ron Swanson – two of my favorite TV characters, possibly of all-time, folks. At the show’s infant stages, they were simply weird dudes. But now, knowing their personalities and what to expect from them, glory is achieved weekly, people.
I’m soooo forever grateful NBC stuck with P&R, and I’m hoping they’ll do the same with Up All Night – as long as the latter is up for the challenge of coming into its own. It has all the DNA of a quirky, zany comedy – maybe 30 Rock spliced with Modern Family? If it can find that sweet spot, it’s all win.
PS: If you have ever agreed with me on anything I have mentioned on this site, do yourself a favor and go watch Parks & Rec (from the beginning, DUH). The whacked title of this post is a direct quote from last night’s season premiere, to give you an idea of the awesomeness. Your life will never be the same.