Up All Night has been burying some of the best moments of each episode in the last bit after the credits roll for the last couple of episodes. In “Daddy Daughter Time,” the non-argument that Chris and Reagan had was one of the more clever scenes of the night, and this week’s “Letting Go” hid a pretty sensational duet between Christina Applegate and Stevie Nicks in the minute after Lorne Michaels’ name hovered over the screen all omnipresent like. Moments like that are part of the reason people watch the show, so it’s unclear why they were whittled down into footnotes on somewhat ho-hum episodes, when they could have pulled the meandering plots along.
It’s not that “Letting Go” was a bad episode. It was perfectly pleasant and occasionally quotable. It’s just that it’s not the kind of installment that you’ll remember later in the week with glee. Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph, and Christian Applegate all have the potential to bring both funny and touching elements into the show; they’ve each demonstrated that before this season. But it seems as if the writing has stagnated since the streak of “Travel Day” and “First Birthday,” and the Up All Night script is content to throw in some pleasant chuckles while Rudolph and Applegate do their thing. It’s fine, but it seems like there’s some serious potential being wasted here.
I was happy to see the return of Ava’s suitor Julian, who reminds me of the word “smarmy” like the premiere of this season of Mad Men reminds me that the word “loud” applies to clothes too. The repeated references to his overpowering cologne, as when Reagan notes that she smells “like the break room at Armani Exchange” just from standing near him, didn’t do anything to discourage me from my belief that he is but Parks And Recreation’s Jean Ralphio in disguise. While “Googling inspirational quotes and nipple slips,” Julian found a picture of Ava with a pet dog, and took it upon himself to gift her a “baby dog or doggy baby.” This, as anyone who has adopted a small animal before will know, is a mixed blessing. Yes, Avian (a Brangelina like combination of the names Ava and Julian) is totes adorbs, but he’s also a tiny wee puppy who whimpers through the night. Ava tries to sleep with the pup, who joyfully makes a snarl of her hair and generally ruins her beauty rest.
This is the plotline where we determine that Ava would be every bit as Type A a mother as Reagan is, after she tries to give away Avian and comes running back lest Julian and his sushi-on-waterbed club hoes try to have him put down. She’s the kind of dog owner who gives her poor pooch anxiety problems, which gives Avian IBS which gives Ava IBS. (Or, as Julian coined it, “The poop loop.”) Reagan is having her own problems allowing Amy to grow up and scoot around the house without the proper grippy socks, as one particularly harrowing flashback to the ball pit at “Kiddy Funtown” shows us. Both Ava and Reagan are the Caroline Manzo of their inner Real Housewives monologues, it turns out. While they both freak out about their respective dependent tiny things, they meet with Stevie Nicks in her studio who, in her moon goddess wisdom, turns out to be a baby whisperer. Of course. It was a cute plot arc, but not that memorable, and unsurprising that the lesson was they both needed to take it easy and let go a little bit..
Chris had the most promising story of any of the characters this week, though they’ve been playing the getting older angle hard for him the past few episodes, and it’s beginning to get more than threadbare. In his hockey practice, Chris gets recruited away from his own league, the curmudgeonly 30-and-up “Old Timers,” and into the strapping young lads of the “Beer League.” Predictably, he can’t quite keep up with the rowdy post-college crowd, and ends up with a thrown-out back. Which, in addition to Reagan’s decision to throw up a dozen baby safety gates around the night, led to one of Arnett’s best delivered lines of the night: “I see you’ve made walking around the house harder. That’s cool.” Chris’ eventual retreat back into his own league is one you could see coming, and even Arnett and Applegate’s combined couple charm doesn’t make it more than a shoulder shrug moment. Let’s hope that in the end of the season, Up All Night gets out of its funk and back into its groove. I like Arrested Development references as much as the next TV obsessive, but looking out for them does not an interesting sitcom make. Though I might take it back if Chris gets a magic act.
- Missy was in this episode for too brief a time, but her line was quality: “It’s not silly to have a dream! I make cat pillows for cats with cats on them.”
- Ava, protecting Avian’s ears from the word “bitch”: “Language! He is the son of that!”
- One last Julian sleaze moment: “Is this the ladies I’d like to do it with convention?”