by Bethany McHugh
As Episode 6 of “Up All Night” is the first new episode ordered after the full season pick-up, I had hoped that the writers would have taken the time to watch the first episodes to learn what did and did not work. My hopes were dashed within the first 3 minutes by the sagging pace and tone in addition to a middling plot introduction. And, much like last week, I can’t recall eliciting a single chuckle throughout the course of “Birth.”
This was essentially a flashback episode, centering on the day Reagan gave birth, and it could have been an interesting story, but we’re 5 episodes into the season. It should have been the plot of the pilot. At this point, there’s really no reason to go back to this day, because we’re already so engrossed (a term I use lightly, as there’s nothing really engrossing about this show) with Chris and Reagan’s life post-birth. Reagan believes the only reason she’s keeping calm is because of her birth plan, which, surprise, is basically thrown out the window when nothing turns out the way she planned.
Many shows do the “baby” episode, but they all had higher stakes than in this one, in which the biggest concern is that Reagan didn’t have the headband she wanted to wear while in labor. “The Office” two seasons ago had its baby episode, but there was more going on driving the plot, including mother Pam not wanting to leave for the hospital because of the insurance policy not kicking in until a few hours later. Not everything has to revolve around the premise of a car crash (“Grey’s Anatomy), a husband physically unable to get to his wife (“Scrubs”), or having a child in the presence of a serial killer (“Desperate Housewives”).
At least all these plots are more entertaining, however, than sending best friend Ava to retrieve a headband because Reagan’s isn’t in her go-bag and calling this the tension of the episode. Baby episodes are so hard to write because it’s easy to confuse the biggest thing at stake being the birth when it doesn’t have to be. The birth is what writers would call a “first turn” – the first complication for the episode. yet each installment of a series needs a “second turn,” and that never really surfaced during “Birth.”
One of the few positives about this episode deals with my wanting last week to see Chris in his element at a law firm. Will Arnett, as per usual, makes the show worth watching, doing the best with what he’s given. Nervous after learning that Reagan is in labor, he scrambles together possessions on his desk, shoving them into his briefcase, taking unnecessarily a stapler with him. This cute moment is the reason why I kept watching; I want to see Reagan and Chris become so overwhelmed by the situations they find themselves in, fail, and learn from their mistakes. I want to see how they deal with being parents. I need that moment of Chris’s confused scrambling to be 21-and-a-half minutes longer.
Here’s hoping that the next 22 minutes will be nothing but those cute moments.
Bethany McHugh is a staff writer. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org