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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Up All Night and Free Agents

Last night we got two new comedies, and we watched both of them.

First, there was Up All Night, a show with a great cast, and the first episode felt like a pilot. They were trying to get the theme in there so much that there wasn’t time for any plot. Just a set-up, some jokes, and some people having trouble handling their baby. The upside to this one is that the characters are already likeable. This is the first time Will Arnett has played someone who isn’t horribly arrogant, and while we find the ego shtick funny, we were pleased to see him as a charming, loveable doofus. Christina Applegate was cute, and Maya Rudolph may be the funniest character so far. We love her frequent use of the word “y'all,” even though her character isn’t Southern. We weren’t blown away or laughing our heads off, but we want more of this.

Next, there was Free Agents, a show that critics seem to think is just awful. This wasn’t laugh-out-loud funny, and we still don’t like Hank Azaria in this role, but it was mildly amusing and pleasant. It's not awful enough to drop after one episode. It has a weaker, colder premise than Up All Night's sweet one: Co-workers sleep around to “get back in the game” and forget about real love, which they lost. One of the reasons it’s getting panned is that it’s based on a British show that was apparently better. But that’s what they said about The Office at first too. The American version needs time to become its own show and to make the characters well-rounded joke producers.

Also, the British version was allowed to be dirtier, and since a lot of the humor is about sex, that would be a plus. But we are stuck with broadcast television here, so we get a slightly sleezy, uncool, watered-down version. It’s like Ally McBeal: A little ridiculous with characters we don’t like yet, and it feels like something for older people. Maybe it’s the older leads? But we enjoyed this show way more than we thought we would. The picture of Kathryn Hahn’s dead fiancĂ© over her bed was pretty funny, as was Kathryn Hahn. We also liked the assistant who hates the male lead. More of her, please. Less of the boss who wants his employees to tell him about their one-night stands. He was not funny. The ABBA stuff was pretty funny. We didn’t know that’s what that song was really about…. The leads need more chemistry, but maybe that will develop has they work together more.

We want to give both shows a few more episodes to find their footing, because that’s what comedies need. Always remember that Parks and Recreation had a really rough, unfunny, unoriginal first season. Then it became one of our favorite comedies of all time. Community was also hard for one of us to get into, and now that blogger would scream and rend her clothes like an ancient prophet if it were cancelled. You have to give comedies at least five episodes, unless you absolutely loathe them.

Right now, Up All Night is better, but Free Agents isn’t as bad as everyone says it is. We think American TV watchers are going to be more into watching the cute little family than the slutty will-they-won’t-they-oh-wait-they-already-did twosome. Yet Free Agents feels more familiar, and people love sex jokes, as shown by Two-and-a-Half Men. Only time will tell, but our money is on Up All Night.

Up All Night grade: B (although parents should enjoy it more than we did)
Free Agents grade: C


  1. "We think American TV watchers are going to be more into watching the cute little family than the slutty will-they-won’t-they-oh-wait-they-already-did twosome."

    I think you hit the nail on the head there. The concept for "Free Agents" looks more like a bad to moderately bad rom-com starring Bradley Cooper and Cameron Diaz or something, while "Up All Night" has good series potential. Banking on a "normal" family for comedy is as old as sitcoms, but a really smart move for NBC, who really need a "Modern Family"-level comedy hit.

    I also thought "Up All Night" was pretty funny for a pilot, and the chemistry between the actors was great for their first outing. "Free Agents" is just kind of meh.

  2. Bradley Cooper is hot enough that if he were in it, we'd probably watch it, haha. But alas...

  3. I finally got around to watching the Up All Night pilot and I thought it was just okay. I could TOTALLY relate to all of the parenting jokes, which made it worthwhile, but I don't really like anything about Christina Applegate's work life. The TV show about someone working for a TV show has been SO DONE.

  4. Agree about the TV show thing. Hopefully Christina stays home most of the time. Not laugh-out-loud yet, but most comedies take a season to find their feet, even the best ones. Modern Family was the exception to that. And probably Arrested Development.