by Bethany McHugh
While the pilot to “Up All Night” was by no means perfect, plenty of gears were set into motion that promised exciting twists in the coming episodes. I truly believed that “Up All Night” would be a great addition to the strong and underrated comedies already airing on NBC. Yet even by the second episode, “Cool Neighbors,” my faith in this series has been greatly diminished. The episode was boring – stale, even – eliciting only a few chuckles far too late in the episode to turn things around.
Reagan and Chris are still adjusting to their new life as parents to baby Amy, and Reagan continues to try to balance her work life and her life as a mother. Ava, with her need to have everyone love her, becomes increasingly upset when she realizes that Amy doesn’t seem to like her. Reagan and Chris meet their new “hip” neighbors, whom they try desperately hard to please, but when the new neighbors throw a party across the street that prohibits Amy from falling asleep, the new parents have no choice but to call the police and file a noise complaint. Suddenly feeling guilty, Reagan and Chris decide to pretend to be at the party for hours and be “cool” neighbors. Their plan is derailed when the police come to investigate and call Chris, whose phone is in his pocket and goes off for all to hear, to see if he would allow the new homeowners to continue the party with the music turned down.
It is unfortunate knowing that Will Arnett and Christina Applegate are capable of so much more than what was showcased in “Neighbors.” Astonishingly, Maya Rudolph is now the saving grace of this show (a complete reversal from my thoughts on her in the pilot.) Despite the last minute changes to her character, my fear is that the writers don’t know what to do with the story they have, nor how to utilize the strengths of the actors they’ve been given.
This episode felt strangely “safe,” which works against the very nature of the show’s cast and network. Arnett,is not a “safe” actor, and you can tell he’s struggling to make the most of the shallow lines written for him. Additionally, NBC isn’t a network airing “safe” half-hour comedies. “Friends” was a revolutionary show, and “The Office” took giant leaps that, while they have not always payed off, were intriguing enough to maintain an audience for 8 years. “Up All Night” is too early in its run to be sticking so close to the basics of television comedy.
Despite the boredom I felt watching “Cool Neighbors,” I’m still holding out hope the show can improve because if anyone can make this show work, it is the two powerful comedians at the center – Arnett and Applegate. As the episodes continue, I hope the writers will take some time to reflect on the work they’ve already done and enact the adjustments necessary to make the following episodes a success.
Bethany McHugh is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org