[In case you’ve Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots.]
Show: “Up All Night,” NBC
The Pitch: When you have Will Arnett, Christina Applegate and Maya Rudolph, plus Lorne Michaels producing, you don’t really need a pitch.
Quick Response: I don’t have children, so I haven’t been around an infant on a regular basis since my younger brother was born. But watching the Emily Spivey-scripted pilot for NBC’s “Up All Night,” I still got the feeling that I was in the hands of somebody who had a very clear sense of the trials and tribulations of first-time parenthood. I didn’t laugh at “Up All Night” very often — my only laughs came at Maya Rudolph — but every second felt plausible and rang true. To my mind, that’s a very good start for a series. If you have authenticity and a cast like this, it’ll go far. Arnett is shockingly schtick-free here, without even a hint of Gob Bluth or Devon Banks from “30 Rock” or Steven McRunningWilde from his short-lived FOX dud. It’s a wonderful change — Arnett’s usually Arnett-esque even in interviews — and I felt like I was watching a real human here, rather than a character on a sitcom. I’m certain Applegate can be funnier than this — I always thought she was splendid on the otherwise uneven “Samantha Who?” — but she’s still likable. And Rudolph remains one of those performers whose talents have barely begun to be tapped, but she has some line-readings here that are unique and send the material soaring. Because the premise is so basic — first-time parents are shocked to realize that having a baby changes your life — I have no worries about sustainability with this one. The pilot is loose-to-barely plotted and the single-camera aesthetic only enhances the relaxed formlessness. Again, that aids sustainability. The big litmus test for “Up All Night” has nothing to do with me, though. Will actual parents think that the things I assumed were authentic were totally bogus? Or will it prove too authentic and hit too close to home without being funny? Or will NBC actually successfully tap into a massive audience here and find a rare hit?
Desire To Watch Again: I’ll watch “Up All Night” again. Definitely. I may, however, watch “Up All Night” on OnDemand, since it’s paired with a pilot I detested and I’ll almost certainly have to dedicate the hour’s DVR time to several other shows.
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: ABC’s ‘Revenge’
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: ABC’s ‘Once Upon a Time’
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: NBC’s ‘Awake’
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: FOX’s ‘I Hate My Teenage Daughter’
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: The CW’s ‘The Secret Circle’
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: CBS’ ‘Unforgettable’
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: NBC’s ‘The Playboy Club’
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: ABC’s ‘Charlie’s Angels’
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: NBC’s ‘Grimm’
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: FOX’s ‘New Girl’
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: The CW’s ‘Hart of Dixie’
Take Me To The Pilots ‘ 11: ABC’s ‘Apartment 23’
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: CBS’ ‘A Gifted Man’
All of last year’s Take Me To The Pilots installments.