by Bethany McHugh
Reagan faces essentially an invasion of her parents when they’re in town for a book party for her mother, Dr. Angie Chafin (Danner), who has just written a how-to book on parenting, based on Reagan’s life. Reagan is adamant about not allowing her parents to come visit, but when Chris is convinced that he’s going to die in 2032, he surprises Reagan by inviting them over so that everyone can be at peace before he passes away, which only brings more stress into Reagan’s life. After Amy makes the same noise Reagan makes when describing her mother, Reagan is petrified that Amy will grow to dislike her as well, and insists on bonding with her mother, which doesn’t go over well. Blythe Danner does an excellent job as Dr. Angie, giving Christina Applegate a run for her money as the best female on the show. I hope this guest stint will result in many more appearances.
Chris’ storyline felt like the highlight of this episode, however. The patriarch of the family dealt with his “certain” death when both his lifetime subscription to “Sports Illustrated” and “Death Clock” (a website) confirm he will die in 2032. Panic-stricken and overwhelmed is what Will Arnett does best on “UAN,” so seeing him in his element is always wonderful. When Chris discusses his fear of death with Reagan’s father (also a psychiatrist), instead of counseling him, the father-in-law, drops the f-bomb while explaining he’s scared of death too.
This moment brings about my weekly “Writers, what were you thinking?!” comment – if a show is on a “Big 4” network and featured in primetime (so the FCC will fine the network if the word is un-bleeped), don’t say the word. It makes for a very jarring result. Unlike situations on “The Office” and “Modern Family”- all filmed in the mockumentary style – we can believe that they would curse because as an audience, we assume that the action was true to life. We embrace that “Up All Night” doesn’t follow that format. To hear a bleep where a curse would be isn’t funny. It’s sloppy.
I can’t deny that I have many problems with “Up All Night,” but I must insist that this is not the worst comedy on television (that title belongs to NBC’s other show, “Whitney”). I would even say that on the whole the show is worth watching. There are many great moments peppered throughout that I just wish, week after week, would be expanded upon, but rarely are. I’ve mentioned how much I love Christina Applegate and Will Arnett, but it is true I wish the stakes would be raised. I’m hoping these beginning episodes can be looked back on one day like the beginning episodes of “Parks and Recreation,” with the thought, “Remember when this show just didn’t have it together, and now it’s can’t-miss?” Granted, this moment may not come until next season, but I have enough faith in this comedic dream team to stick around. I hope that you do too.
Bethany McHugh is a staff writer. You can e-mail her at email@example.com