One of the biggest growing pains NBC’s new comedy “Up All Night” has had to deal with in the early going is how to integrate Maya Rudolph‘s character of Ava into the lives of new parents Reagan and Chris Brinkley (Christina Applegate and Will Arnett).
In the original pilot, Ava was Reagan’s partner in a PR firm who had no idea how to act around a baby. But after the success of “Bridesmaids,” the producers of the show decided to expand Rudolph’s role, making Ava a diva-ish talk show host who not only has no idea how to act around baby Amy but has little to no grasp on how to act around anyone. Because of the change, “Up All Night” is essentially two shows: one about thirtysomething new parents struggling to figure things out, and the other a workplace comedy about a second-rate daytime talk show. The second show wasn’t nearly as successful as the first.
But last night, Emily Spivey and her writers figured out a good way to integrate the two shows a little bit better, and the result was the best episode of “Up All Night’s” run so far. In the episode, Reagan and Chris want to spend a night away, and Ava volunteers to babysit when the Brinkley’s original choice bails. With nowhere else to turn, they accept. And Ava does a pretty decent job, with the help of neighbor Kevin (Jason Lee), who she’s immediately attracted to because he’s a “regular guy.”
More episodes like this need to happen if “Up All Night” is going to succeed. Rudolph and Lee had pretty good chemistry together, as we saw in the scenes where Ava tried to take Kevin’s romantic temperature (i.e. figure out if he’s single, of course). Let’s hope Lee pops up every so often as this story plays out.
Watch the latest episode of “Up All Night”:
It wasn’t only the romantic chemistry; this was one of the first episodes where we saw Ava as a human being not a caricature that looked like a cross between Oprah Winfrey and Tyra Banks, who’s not as big a star as she thinks she is and doesn’t have a clue about the people who work for her, aside from her longtime friend Reagan. Characters like that only last for so long on network TV without driving audiences away, so putting Ava in more situations where she deals with being a friend to a couple with a new baby, which is something that anyone who’s single and feels left out can relate to.
Luckily, “Up All Night” will have time to find itself, as NBC has picked up the show for a full season. With more episodes like this, it’ll find those comedic legs sooner rather than later.