Tuned In

The Morning After: Up Another Night

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Amid the crush of new fall-TV reviews, the premieres of returning shows tend to get shortchanged, and here at Tuned In I’m no exception, so I’ll give you this Morning After post to talk about what you thought of, for instance, last night’s double shot debut of Modern Family. (I will say this: if the premiere of Revenge that followed it was a fantasy of sticking it to the rich, Modern Family is its flip side. Even in these tough times, mass America is glad to embrace a clan so well-off they can take an extended-family trip to Jackson Hole, and even bring along one of the daughters’ boyfriends.)

Another thing that gets shortchanged: the second (and later) episodes of the shows who pilots critics spent the summer mulling over. (Broadcast networks, unlike cable, rarely send more than one episode of fall debuts for review.) Last night was the follow-up episode of Up All Night, which confirmed a lot of what I liked about the debut and some of what bothered me.

The main plot involving Reagan and Chris was funny and well-observed. The subplot, with Maya Rudolph’s Ava, was funny in its way, but belonged on an entirely different show—one that operates on a different, more 30 Rock-like level of reality. (I don’t think sitcoms need to be realistic; I do think they need to pick a level of realism and stick with it.) More and more I get the feeling that NBC, after Bridesmaids, simply wished it had given Rudolph her own separate star vehicle, and, failing that, turned her talk-show-host sendup into almost a show-within-a-show. But Up All Night still hasn’t entirely figured out how Ava fits into Reagan’s show—boss? friend? frenemy?—and when the stories overlapped last night, it felt like watching a crossover episode involving two NBC sitcoms.

If you watched, I’d like to hear what you think about it—or, for that matter, Revenge, Free Agents, or any other Wednesday-night program. The comments are yours—I’m only one man!

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