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 V.20 No.38 | September 22 - 28, 2011 
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Idiot Box

Hell Is Other People’s Kids

“Up All Night” on NBC

“Up All Night” arrived early in the fall season with some high expectations. It’s created by “Saturday Night Live”/“MADtv” writer Emily Spivey. It stars two highly regarded sitcom vets, Christina Applegate (“Married ... With Children”) and Will Arnett (“Arrested Development”). And it features strong support work by beloved “SNL” vet Maya Rudolph. Entertainment Weekly went so far as to preordain it one of the five best new series of fall. If that’s true, it’s gonna be a loooong winter.

“Up All Night” is based on a vaporously slim premise. Reagan (Applegate) and Chris (Arnett) are a hip, thirtysomething couple who like to hobnob and party. That lifestyle comes crashing down, though, when they find themselves unexpectedly with child. Now, instead of staying up all night having fun, they stay up all night tending to baby. Isn’t that hilarious? The show is based on the hope that new parents will roar with delight over the show’s “Ain’t that the truth?” comedy. Changing diapers? Gosh, that sucks. Losing sleep over crying infants? Been there, my friend. If, however, you are not the proud parent of a newborn infant, “Up All Night” holds precious little humor.

The “sit” on this “com” isn’t exactly inventive enough to sustain storylines. The show seems to think it’s being awesomely progressive by giving Reagan a fancy job (she’s a producer on Maya Rudolph’s daytime talk show) and sending her back to work while hubby stays home with baby. Stay-at-home dads may have been a radical idea back in 1983 when Michael Keaton did Mr. Mom, but it’s kinda standard these days. Arnett’s normally smarmy personality is dialed down to near zero here, so that doesn’t help much. And Applegate just seems to be biding her time until the first “spit-up on the designer pant suit” gag. (Only Rudolph displays any spark as the kooky “Oprah meets Pepa from Salt-N-Pepa” diva.)

The very premise on which “Up All Night” is constructed (hell, the freakin’ title of the show) is dangerously shortsighted. What’s going to happen to this show in six months’ time when the baby is no longer a newborn and is actually sleeping through the night? I say ditch the new parents angle, concentrate on Maya Rudolph’s character, give her a late-night talk show instead, name it “Up All Night” and forget there was ever a baby involved in the first place.

“Up All Night” airs Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. on KOB-4.

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