Up All Night

In theory, "Up All Night" ought to resonate with young families who can identify feeling cooped up and grounded by a new baby.

Reagan Brinkley - Christina Applegate
Ava - Maya Rudolph
Chris - Will Arnett

In theory, “Up All Night” ought to resonate with young families who can identify feeling cooped up and grounded by a new baby. The premise, however, proves more fertile (pardon the expression) than the actual show, which as presented plays like a one-note gag about as subtle as watching the central couple, Christina Applegate and Will Arnett, do a lot of bleeped-out cussing in front of their newborn. Clearly, responsible parents will put the kids to bed early, unless they want to brave exposing their offspring to an uninspired if harmless piece of (bleep).

A high-powered producer of an “Oprah”-style talkshow, Applegate’s Reagan hasn’t fully grasped what a crimp an infant will be to her velvet-roped, on-the-go lifestyle. Her husband Chris (Arnett) is equally clueless, other than marveling with her about how their baby is just so (bleep)ing beautiful, before realizing they might need to clean up their language.

Still, Reagan is heading back to work, which means Chris has to step up and watch the kid.

No problem, he insists — “Why hire a nanny when you got me?” he assures his wife — but of course, things don’t exactly work out that way for Mr. Mom.

Again, there’s a template here — as devised by series creator Emily Spivey (“SNL”) under the aegis of “SNL” patriarch Lorne Michaels — which should be ripe for comedy and strike a nerve within the demo the networks desperately want to reach. Feeling unprepared to handle a baby — despite professional credentials, as more people defer parenthood until they’re older — taps into a reality for many viewers, a la “Baby Boom.”

It’s in the delivery, alas, where “Up All Night” goes awry. Even a toned-down Arnett — back for more after last year’s short-lived starring stint in Fox’s “Running Wilde” — again demonstrates he’s more palatable in small (see “Arrested Development”) or sporadic (“30 Rock”) doses than cast as a series lead. Similarly, Applegate – — whose new mom theoretically provides some kind of emotional anchor — pretty much follows him off that over-the-top cliff.

The shift from the pilot’s original work milieu in a PR firm to a show-within-the-show scenario also makes this feel like a bit of a me-too “30 Rock,” and isn’t helped by Maya Rudolph’s performance as the crazy host Ava, who oscillates between irritating and merely obnoxious.

Paired with the even-less-appealing “Free Agents,” “Up All Night” will be the beneficiary of modest expectations as NBC tries to lead off Wednesdays with comedy once the new series shift to their regular timeslots.

Nevertheless, if the mysteries of parenting grow more fathomable with time, the opportunity to grow up and into its premise might be one of those scheduling luxuries “Up All Night” lacks.

Up All Night

NBC, Weds. Sept. 14, 10 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Los Angeles by Broadway Video in association with Universal Media Studios. Executive producers, Emily Spivey, Jon Pollack, Erin David, Lorne Michaels; producers, Christina Applegate, Andrew Singer, Eric Kranzler; line producer, Anna Dokoza; director, James Griffiths; writer, Spivey;

Crew: camera, Oliver Bokelberg, Matthew Clark; production designers, Dan Butts, Kitty Doris-Bates; editors, Dean Holland, Rick Blue; music, Martyn LeNoble, Vincent Jones; casting, Mary Gail Artz, Shani Ginsberg, Jeff Greenberg. 30 MIN.

Cast: Reagan Brinkley - Christina Applegate
Ava - Maya Rudolph
Chris - Will Arnett

More TV

  • I Sing the Body Electric

    'I Sing the Body Electric': How a 'Fame' Monster Was Reimagined for the Grammys

    Longtime Grammy telecast producer Ken Ehrlich has delivered his Grammy swan song (figuratively and literally), and it couldn’t have happened without … Walt Whitman. To usher out his 40-year era as the guiding light behind some of TV’s greatest musical moments, Ehrlich chose the song “I Sing the Body Electric” from the 1980 movie musical [...]

  • Kobe Bryant Staples Center memorial

    Kobe Bryant Mourners Gather Outside Staples Center to Remember Basketball Great

    Within hours of the news of Kobe Bryant’s death breaking, a fast-growing crowd of about two hundred people had gathered outside of the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday to mourn the Lakers legend, who died earlier that day in a helicopter crash. Chants of “Kobe! Kobe!” broke out spontaneously outside of the sports [...]

  • Tanya Tucker and Brandi Carlile -

    Tanya Tucker Wins First Grammys, 47 Years After First Nomination

    Country music legend Tanya Tucker picked up her first two wins at the 62nd annual Grammy Awards on Sunday at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The 61-year-old singer won for best country song for “Bring My Flowers Now” and best country album for “While I’m Livin’.” “After 50 years in this business, I have a [...]

  • Kobe Bryant death

    News and Sports Outlets Scramble to Cover Kobe Bryant's Death

    Kobe Bryant’s shocking death forced major TV news and sports outlets to scramble on Sunday to cover the helicopter crash in Southern California that took the life of the legendary 41-year-old basketball star,  his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others. From the BBC to Fox News, Bryant’s death dominated coverage as soon as word surfaced [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content