“Up All Night” and “Free Agents” enter with a mighty – meh.

Perhaps it’s the downside of over-hyping new shows, or perhaps they just weren’t great to begin with, but NBC’s two newest sitcoms hit the air flat Wednesday night. And they’ll be just as flat when they are reran tonight.

UP ALL NIGHT

Comedy veterans Christina Applegate and Will Arnett join forces as new parents adjusting to life with a baby. Most of the pilot had been featured in commercial after commercial, so much so that it’s hard to even watch it.

There are a few classic parent jokes. The baby’s up, and I’m tired. Don’t wake up the baby, etc. But Applegate and Arnett don’t quite seem to work well together yet. That’s not unusual for a pilot. Both have a good enough track record to keep me interested.

Rudolph, unfortunately, did nothing for me. Her character is kind of a low-budget Oprah, but all I kept thinking during the show was, “Why is she in this?” Really, what’s the point of her character? In the show, the promos, the posters, her character appears to actively be thinking, “Why am I here?” I understand that she represents the world of work to Applegate’s character, Reagan, but I didn’t feel like anything was at stake.

That’s kind of the issue here. Applegate and Arnett clearly have no money issues. Reagan is already respected and good at her job. Really all we got were a few baby jokes. There’s just no depth.

FREE AGENTS

Hank Azaria is a master of suffering. Anytime one of his characters is in pain, it’s comedy gold. The problem is he traditionally works best as a side character, a nerd, a bizarre nerd, or maybe a nerd. Watching him play it straight, watching him use zero funny voices or pitiful inflection, it’s tough to get used to doing.

Still, the script for Free Agents’ pilot was much stronger than Up All Night. There’s great potential here. The show is built around the burgeoning relationship of wounded singles Alex and Helen. It works for the pilot, but I really hope they break up as soon as possible.

I have zero desire to see them as a couple. They have good chemistry as friends though, and I think it would be great to watch them tread the waters of single life while leaning on each other. It would be nice to see a truly platonic friendship, and how it’s tough to maintain that when one member enters a relationship.

The Armenian gangster line is still funny even though it’s been featured in the promo for months. Unlike Up All Night, there were plenty of funny moments NOT in the promos so I actually enjoyed the show more.

The only other character who seemed to scratch out a foothold was the executive assistant. Alex’ friends weren’t given much in the show, and neither actor really carved a place in the production. The boss was borderline. I sense great insanity beneath the surface, but I don’t know how long I want to wait for him to unleash it.

Ultimately, neither show really made a great first impression. Honestly, I wish I could combine the two and juxtapose the break up of Alex’ family with the new addition to Reagan and Chris’ family. Neither show really feels complete.

Then again, pilots aren’t always indicative of a show’s future. Until the last two seasons, the worst episode of The Office was the pilot. And, of course, The Office wound up being one of the best sitcoms of all time.

 

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