The story of NBC’s Up All Night is such a case study in everything that’s wrong with the network television industry, it’s hard to believe it’s real and not satire. The show has gone through so much “re-tooling” in its brief existence that it bears almost no relationship to what it was when it began its run.
What’s perplexing is that someone at NBC appears to be committed to keeping some version of the series on no matter what, despite the fact it was never that well loved or that good to begin with. Some are speculating that the latest news in this ridiculous saga, the fact that Arnett has been cast as the lead in a pilot for another comedy on CBS could lead to NBC finally doing the humane thing and putting the series out of its misery, but who knows at this point.
Even if CBS orders the pilot from Raising Hope creator Greg Garcia to series, if NBC for some bizarre reason decides to make some new iteration of Up All Night this fall, apparently Arnett’s contract is structured so that he would have to return to whatever unrecognizable beast Up All Night has become and give up the CBS show. Similarly, Maya Rudolph earlier this week expressed a desire to get out of Up All Night due to the fact that she is pregnant with her fourth child with film director Paul Thomas Anderson, but she has not been released from her contract yet either.
So how did we get here? It’s useful to return to Alan Sepinwall’s blog post when Christina Applegate quit Up All Night, which does a great job detailing all the twists and turns thus far:
*In the original pilot episode, Applegate and Maya Rudolph’s characters were PR specialists. By the time the series made it to air, Rudolph was a talk show host, and Applegate her producer.
* Midway through the first season, the talk show got new management, and Applegate had a new boss to deal with.
* At the start of the second season, the talk show was canceled, and all the characters who worked on it other than Applegate and Rudolph’s were eliminated from the show.
* Where the original premise had involved Will Arnett’s lawyer choosing to be a stay-at-home dad while Applegate worked, in the new season, Applegate became primary caregiver, and Arnett went back to work — not as a lawyer, but as a contractor, working alongside Applegate’s previously-unseen brother.
* When none of that worked, NBC put production on hiatus and announced plans to retool it as a traditional multi-cam comedy shot in front of a live studio audience.
* While that retooling was underway, the show’s creator Emily Spivey quit — no doubt in frustration over how little the show now resembled the one she had devised.
And now Applegate is leaving
Applegate leaving should by all rights have been a fatal blow for the series, but apparently NBC still has plans to make at least one episode of the multi-camera version of the show with Rudolph and Arnett, and even possibly recast Applegate’s character with Lisa Kudrow. And here’s the kicker: there are rumors that the new version of Up All Night is to focus on the behind the scenes workings of a television show. Maybe it can be a show about the wacky hi-jinks involved in trying to continually retool Up All Night?