The second season of Up All Night has been given a few more episodes, but fans might not be happy to hear what's happening to the show after the eleventh episode wraps production next week and the show goes on a winter hiatus.
Though three more chapters have been added to season 2 of the series starring Christina Applegate, Will Arnett and Maya Rudolph, when the show returns in the spring after a three month break, it will no longer be a single camera comedy.
Deadline reports that when production returns in the spring and debuts on the air again in April or May, Up All Night will be a multi-camera sitcom complete with a live audience. That means the last five episodes of this second season will drastically change the look and feel of the series - which has seen an uptick in ratings over the past couple weeks.
Interestingly enough, the decision didn't come from the studio, but rather series executive producer and Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels. Discussions had taken place regarding infusing the show with more energy and he believes the multi-camera method with a live audience can do that. NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt says:
"We know what the multi-camera audience does for the live episodes of 30 Rock, plus after seeing both Maya and Christina do SNL within the past few months, we knew we had the kind of performers — Will Arnett included — who love the reaction from a live audience.”
Honestly, this seems like it has more to do with the fact that it's much cheaper to make the show as a multi-camera sitcom. As mentioned, Up All Night has been getting better ratings, but it's still not one of the most popular shows on TV. If this new formula doesn't pay off next spring - then the series probably won't get a third season order.
Though the live episodes of 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live are referenced as supposed evidence as to the success and praise for multi-camera comedy, audiences really prefer those shows because of the live element, where anything can happen. Plus, when you look at NBC's other multi-camera sitcoms, the generally underwhelming Whitney and Guys with Kids, that's not what Up All Night needs or deserves.
The biggest problem with multi-camera sitcoms is they feel dated and cheesy - especially with a live audience. Comedic timing feels forced and awkward when viewers have to wait for laughter. In addition, this writer feels like a good comedy doesn't need a live audience for their cast and crew to know what they're doing is funny. NBC's mockumentary shows Parks & Recreation and The Office have done just fine without it, and the comedy therein is far superior to that of any multi-camera sitcom on TV.
The only saving grace might be that Tucker Cawley, the new showrunner this season, was a writer and producer on Everybody Loves Raymond and creator and executive producer Emily Spivey is an SNL veteran. Maybe they can come up with a way to make this tired sitcom style seem fresh. After all, the addition of Luka Jones (below) as Applegate's brother this season has been a nice change, along with the surprise element of canceling the Oprah Winfrey-style show belonging to Rudolph's character.
The creative change between a single and multi-camera format is generally made when pilots are being developed, but doing something like this in the middle of a season comes across as a desperate move. Here's hoping the heart and soul of what fans have come to love about Up All Night sticks around - and this doesn't ruin an already solid comedy series. At least it's not getting delayed indefinitely like Community.