TV reviews: 'Up All Night' scores; 'Free Agents' flops

"UP ALL NIGHT"

Reagan Brinkley almost had it all—a great career, fun boss, all-access to the best parties in L.A.—and a work-from-home husband, Chris, who stayed up all night partying with her.

The only thing missing from Reagan's life was a kid. So after years of living their self-absorbed lives, Reagan and Chris (Christina Applegate and Will Arnett) decide to take the plunge into parenthood, which is where we meet them at the beginning of the engaging new sitcom "Up All Night" (9 p.m. Wednesday, NBC; 3 stars out of 4).

The series thankfully fast-forwards from pregnancy test to Reagan’s first day back at work as producer of a daytime talk show called “Ava” (Maya Rudolph). Ava’s hilariously oblivious to Reagan’s plight as a new mom; actually, she’s oblivious to a lot of things.

Although her Ava is just a supporting character, Rudolph steals every scene she’s in. She’s toned down her Oprah spoof from "Saturday Night Live," injecting just the right amount of silliness here. She’s a riot.

Ava’s presence assures that “Up All Night” won’t fall into the habit of cute-baby stories, even though creator Emily Spivey (“Parks and Rec”) does dip into the newborn jokes, with the parents suffering sleep deprivation and dirty diaper jokes. But sitcom vets Arnett and Applegate have no problem generating laughs from a running gag about trying to curb their cursing in front of the baby.

Spivey gives her stars so much better material stemming from the parents’ self-doubt about everything from doing right by their daughter to still rocking a tight skirt (Reagan) to buying the right cheese at the overwhelmingly huge supermarket (Chris). They want to be responsible parents, but they also want to remain cool.

I know enough parents to know that’s a fight to which many can relate.

"FREE AGENTS"

While Rudolph makes Ava a comical workplace distraction in "Up All Night," the office gang from "Free Agents" (9:30 p.m. Wednesday, NBC; 1 star) is anything but funny.

Adapted from a British series of the same name, “Free Agents” stars Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn as co-workers who hook up but want to keep it secret from their co-workers. He cries after they have sex because he’s recently divorced; she gazes longingly at dozens of photos of her dead fiance.

Alex and Helen try to remain pals at their public relations firm—she even helps him shop for a new look for a date—but they can’t quit each other.

Azaria and Hahn, both of whom I have loved in other projects, have no chemistry here. Their castmates are given little good material while playing stereotypes like “the snarky assistant,” “the smug womanizer,” “the clueless boss” and the “horny nerd.”

I’m not sure how long Alex and Helen will spew cheap laughs while dancing around the fact they belong together, but I won’t be sticking around to find out.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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