TV Captivity Day 2: “Up All Night”

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Ordinarily, it’d be about as easy to get me to watch a sitcom about new parents as it would for the Koch brothers to enter the kingdom of heaven on the head of a pin. But for some inexplicable reason, there was no new episode of Dance Moms this week. And I need to pick up my child-rearing cues somewhere.

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Unfortunately, Up All Night, which had landed on several critics’ “best of the new season” lists, mostly just gave me muscle strain from trying to keep an indulgent grin on my face when nothing that was happening on the screen warranted it. The setup of last night’s episode had a promising Dick Van Dyke quality: Neurotic marrieds Christina Applegate and Will Arnett fret that they’re not cool enough to be friends with their hip new neighbors. But the conceit had no real payoff, and the detail that our protagonists have a baby -- which is supposed to be the show’s raison d’être -- was essentially immaterial to the story that was being told.

Thus far, though, the most gaping void in the series appears to be Maya Rudolph’s portrayal of Applegate’s boss, a coddled, Oprah-esque daytime guru. Rudolph gets to exhume a bit of the soul-sister grandiosity of her old Gemini’s Twin routines, but she totally lacks the fawned-over verisimilitude Jane Krakowski shows on Broadway Video’s sister show 30 Rock. I don’t believe anyone has ever held a door for Rudolph’s character, much less picked up her dry cleaning.

In our household, we’re going to treat Up All Night like we would treat a real kid: check in on it every month or so to make sure it hasn’t written the Great American Novel or blown anything up. If it wants more regular attention, it’s going to have to learn to do something cute we can talk about at parties.

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