Pilot Reviews: ‘Up All Night’ and ‘Free Agents’

There is so much I love about this picture

As a recurring feature here, I’m going to be reviewing pilots for new shows coming out this fall. Up first, Up All Night and Free Agents which premiered last night on NBC.

Up All Night (Wed. 8:00 EST, NBC): When Reagan (Christina Applegate) and Chris (Will Arnett) have a baby, Chris decides to be a stay at home dad so Reagan can continue her job working for a Tyra Banks like diva talk show host played by Maya Rudolph. The two attempt to balance the responsibilities of parenthood with their former hard-partying lifestyles.

Uninformed Commentary: You’ll have to take my analysis with a grain of salt because I’ll watch anything with Will Arnett. That said, I enjoyed the pilot even if it is a bit earnest for my tastes. What can I say, I find swearing in the presence of babies funny. Also, Christina Applegate is heavenly. About the only thing I can complain about is the presence of Nick Cannon, but thankfully he was only on screen for about a minute. If they find a way to incorporate the GOB Bluth chicken dance into this, I will never miss an episode.

How Long Will it Last? I think this may have staying power. It’s funny enough that it should be able to attract a younger, smarter crowd, but there’s enough family stuff and earnestness to attract the old farts who make CBS sitcoms so popular. I think if one new NBC sitcom gets renewed, this would be the natural choice. Then again, what do I know about TV renewals? I actually have taste.

Free Agents review after the jump:

Free Agents (Wednesday 8:00 EST, NBC): Two co-workers at a PR firm pursue a physical relationship following tragedies in their personal lives. Alex (Hank Azaria) is recently divorced and can’t think about his kids without crying, and Helen’s (Kathryn Hahn) fiance recently passed away, leaving her with an apartment filled with his portraits. Adaptation of a British sitcom.

Uninformed Commentary: This has all the ingredients of a good comedy. Witty dialogue, likable main characters and a decent supporting cast. Except for Al Madrigal, who is terrible, thankfully, Jo Lo Trudico is around as a sword wielding security guard to balance things out. Azaria and Hahn are favorites from other shows, so there’s a natural familiarity here, but I thought that the concept worked and that the writing was good. I think a few more episodes should give a better sense where this is headed so I’ll be watching.

Will it last? Adaptations of British shows either do spectacularly well (The Office, American Idol) or bomb (Coupling, Skins), could this be the show that falls somewhere in between? I think this show’s achilles’ heel when it comes to attracting an audience is the same thing that makes me like it so much. It has a surplus of wit and doesn’t rely on physical comedy as a crutch. In 2011 to make a ton of money as a sitcom you have to paint in broad strokes and pander to the lowest common denominator. Basically, you have to be produced by Chuck Lorre. Still, Community has carved out a niche for itself with a similar, if more absurd, comedic style so maybe NBC gives this a second season simply due to the development of a cult following. Just don’t put money on it.

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Posted on September 15, 2011, in Quality Programming, TV Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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