“Daddy Daughter Time” continues in the same vein of “Baby Fever,” which is to say that, despite not throwing out some of the obvious cues that an episode of Up All Night isn’t going to be great, it still wasn’t good. Yes, it’s balance is weighted in favor of Ava’s set rather than the Brinkley home. But it’s disappointing to see the show fall back into a lackluster rut instead of breaking out with some funny material. The nature of Up All Night isn’t to be the continual laugh riot that 30 Rock or even Parks And Recreation is. Still, I chuckled out loud at only one line this episode, and it was when Ava lies about her on-show lawyer coming down ill with M.S.: “Yeah, it is a lot. It’s multiple… sclerosis. So it’s kind of a lot of scleroses.”
The problems with “Daddy Daughter Time” have something to do with the double whammy of introducing Ava’s dad (played by a ponytailed Henry Winkler) while simultaneously bringing Chris in as a terrible lawyer on Ava’s show. Winkler doesn’t do badly, it’s just that the writers didn’t seem to know what, exactly, to do with him. Ava introduces him by way of a children’s book he wrote as “the grooviest Jew since Neil Diamond first donned a rhinestone cape,” but Sharon Osbourne sums him up more succinctly in her parking-spot-stealing cameo: “a tragic hippie.” It’s nice to see Ava’s character filled out a little with some family background, but the Fonz as her father doesn’t explain much about her talk-show hosting persona, and the interactions between her and her step-family are mostly confusing.
Chris and Reagan’s weekly crisis centers on Chris stepping in to give legal advice on Ava—and being pretty miserable at it. In his initial appearance, Reagan is wary, reminding Chirs “try to say et cetera, because you have a tendency to say ‘ex cetera.’” He does every bit as poorly as she feared, speaking to the wrong camera and reminding the audience over and over again to “do the math.” Ava’s response is pitch perfect: “if they could do the math, they wouldn’t be watching TV in the middle of the day.”
But Reagan reminds Ava of her first television appearance, which apparently involved an unfortunately aimed cough drop blown in the direction of Cyndi Lauper, and Chris is soon reinstated. Reagan lies and tells him that his whole schtick is great, particularly “that really cool thing you do when you ask the audience to do the math repeatedly.” But against her expectations, Chris’ next performance goes well—at least for the thing Ava is aiming for. This leads to Ava asking Chris to stay on for the long haul and, predictably, Chris driving Reagan completely crazy at work. Not that I blame her: Ava and Chris’ whiteboard puppetry act was cute and all, but you need to keep the home front and the work front separate sometimes. So Ava and Reagan strike a compromise: Ava will fire Chris, using mysterious medical reasons from her previous lawyer, if Reagan deals with Ava’s dad.
Obviously, it doesn’t quite work out like that. One thing that we know about Reagan is that she’s devastatingly type A. Even if Chris doesn’t really need to hear it, she needs to tell him that she got him fired, which she does in bed after learning of Chris’ newfound, recreational bronzer habit. He’s obviously upset, which leads to another not-quite-chuckle-worthy line from Reagan: “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have been honest with you.” Ava and her dad, the Fonz, make up while standing in line for a taco truck. The whole thing seems like too much stock sitcom footage, and not enough of the Up All Night twists that the show is be able to pull out of otherwise stale material. The bad news is that the show’s last two installments have been in a slump, but the good news is that Up All Night has shown startling talent at recovering from said slumps. Let’s hope that’s still the case.
- Man, I’ve missed Missy. I’m glad we saw a little of her this week.
- Ava’s Sharon Osbourne insult was pretty great: “You limey rooster head!” Tell her, Ava.
- I also like Winkler’s line about the children’s books: “I found my voice. The voice of a young black boy.”