Tuned In

Test Pilot: Up All Night

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Test Pilot is a semiregular feature sharing my first impressions of the pilots for next season’s shows. These aren’t reviews, since these pilots can be rewritten, recast and retooled before airing, and the shows that eventually get on the air can prove much better or worse. But premature opinions are why God invented the Internet, so let’s get on with…

The Show: Up All Night, NBC

The Premise: Reagan (Christina Applegate) and Chris (Will Arnett) have just had a baby, and fun time is over. This sitcom looks at their adjustment to stress, sleeplessness and the responsibility of keeping a small human alive. While Chris stays at home with the new baby, Reagan returns to her public-relations job, where her boss and best friend (Maya Rudolph) is a reminder of the unencumbered, free-drinking life she’s given up. If you’re stuck in fron tof the TV because your six-week-old has finally fallen asleep in your lap and you don’t dare move, this is the show for you!

First Impressions: This is my favorite broadcast sitcom pilot I’ve seen so far for this fall (the caveat being that I have not watched all of them yet). It’s charming without being cloying, it captures the delight and torture of new parenthood deftly and it shows the value of a top-shelf cast. (Why Rudolph is supporting and not starring in a sitcom is beyond me, but she’s Up All Night’s gain, and Arnett manages to play a non-despicable character credibly.) Looking forward, my big concern is the show’s structure. Sitcoms usually work best when they have the potential to expand their world and a bench to hand off storylines to (think Modern Family’s ensemble). Up All Night so far has a world of three characters–OK, four and one can’t talk–which could make for a claustrophobic show in the long-term. Of course, new parenthood is kind of a claustrophobic bubble, so that might be a plus in this case, or the show could expand.

Do I Want to See Another Episode? Sure. Hopefully it will grow up fast.