Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Up All Night" Like a Bad "Saturday Night Live" Episode--A Really Bad Episode

Christina Applegate and Will Arnett look as depressed
as we feel watching Up All Night.

Thanks to Up All Night, Will Arnett now has the distinction of starring in two sitcoms I turned off before they were over (the other was Running Wilde). At least this time I made it halfway through episode "New Car," but it was a painful 12 minutes. It's sad when you take Saturday Night Live writer and Parks & Recreation producer Emily Spivey and put her together with Maya Rudolph, Christina Applegate, and Will Arnett and you get this painfully awkward mess.

The beginning of the episode focused on Chris (Arnett) trying to bring the sexy back to his relationship with Reagan (Applegate). He's frustrated that she goes from attractive power-suited woman to a new mom in white sweats who thinks it's hilarious when she drops a spaghetti meatball in her lap. It's amazing I was able to contain the laughter.

There were a few funny moments, mostly supplied by guest star Will Forte, who appears as a relaxed, hippie-esque dude who offers Chris some advice on a sexy Dad makeover--and generally steps over personal boundaries.

Sadly, fellow SNL alum Maya Rudolph doesn't fare so well. Starring in Up All Night as a talk show host and unstable crazy woman, in "New Car" she finds out a destructive ex-boyfriend is getting married. Rudolph was one of my favorite performers on the late night sketch comedy show, but no one really seems to know how to cultivate her talents outside that realm. Once they got into the bad 80s flashback of her music video with her boy band boyfriend, my hand went for the remote.

Like many a Saturday Night Live episode, some of the set-ups seem like they should be funny, but they just aren't. The actors look uncomfortable, like they're trying to force the humor, and the whole thing becomes way too painful to watch.

There seemed to be a lot of hype and expectation for this show, which was the reason I tuned in to watch. I was sadly disappointed, and it looks like other viewers are as well. HitFix reports that the show's ratings have been sliding downward, and if they keep slipping, Up All Night could get relocated or removed altogether.

With the talented cast, maybe the show has the potential to get better. I just couldn't wait.

Up All Night currently airs on NBC, Wednesday nights at 8/7c.

PHOTOS: Up All Night, "New Car" screencaps, c2011 Broadway Video, UMS, NBC.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

2 Broke Girls Pilot Episode

Who cares about Two and a Half Men when you have 2 Broke Girls? The premiere of this gal pal sitcom jumped out of the gate and took off running, led by the rapid-fire tough-girl dialogue from waitress Max (Kat Dennings). I kept waiting for her sardonic wit to get old or to fail at funniness, but it was relevant, biting, and entertaining to watch for the full half hour. One of the highlights included her dressing down a couple of rude hipster customers, including a snap at one of my personal pet peeves:

"I wear knit hats when it's cold out; you wear knit hats 'cause of Coldplay."

2 Broke Girls is promising to be a sweet but smart girl power comedy that pairs Max with rich girl Caroline (a charmingly funny Beth Behrs), whose corrupt father landed in prison and landed her in the poorhouse. The two make a pact in the pilot episode to work as many jobs as possible to save up money to open a bakery--Max apparently has mad skills with cupcakes and Caroline went to Wharton Business School.

It's a nice frame for a series that will be finding humor in the opposite lifestyles of Max and Caroline (though they agree on their love of bad boy Robbie's (Noah Mills) sexy abs), the quirky staff and customers of the Brooklyn diner the girls waitress at, and the crazy rich lady Max babysits for.

The best comedies mix great dialogue and funny situations with physical comedy, and 2 Broke Girls is no exception. One of the best surprise laughs in the pilot episode came when Max rode the subway, and a jarring stop of the train car bumped her into an inadvertent kiss with another female passenger. After a lengthy, awkward pause, Max drawled, "Well, I can knock that off my bucket list." The way the kiss happened, and the look these two women share, made this perfect comedic moment work just the way it should. What made it even better was the immediate follow-up incident with Caroline and a pink taser: "It didn't feel pink!"

So far 2 Broke Girls is off to a promising start. The characters are likable and it will actually make you laugh, unlike many other sitcoms out there. Here's hoping the next episodes can keep up with the brilliantly sharp sarcasm and unexpected subway humor. It's too soon to tell for sure, but I expect this Whitney Cummings' show to do better than the one she actually stars in.

PHOTO: Kat Dennings as Max and Beth Behrs as Caroline in 2 Broke Girls; pilot screencaps c2011 CBS Television Network.


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