Up All Night: "Mr. Bob" Doesn't Like It When You Go Off Book

Dial back the peek-a-boos, Chris.
Dial back the peek-a-boos, Chris.

Being a comedy of the situation variety, it's unlikely Up All Night will ever plumb the darker aspects of the subject matter it brings up every week. Last night, for example, found Reagan struggling to adjust to life as a new mommy while diplomatically disentagnling herself from some of the extracurricular activities she used to engage in with boss/friend Ava. On the show, Ava attempts to replace Reagan with Missy (whose attempts to write Ava's speech are disastrous on a level commensurate with the Hindenburg) in a mildly comic way of getting back at her. In real life, Reagan's boss might very well wonder why the sole working parent has to take all this time off for something called "Mr. Bob's Toddler Kaleidoscope."

It might also be interesting at some point to see what would happen if Reagan actually lost her job, putting the Brinkleys on par with so many other families these days. But then I remember, lower income isn't funny unless you're Norman Lear. Or British.

As a parent myself, I suppose I'm a little ambivalent about "child development" classes. On one hand, if your kid is in need of some extra attention for whatever reason, they're probably helpful. For anyone else, you run the risk of running into another parenting dilemma touched upon last night, the oft-lamented "precious little snowflake phenomenon."

If you have kids, you're already aware how you're hard-wired to think no other child that's come before is as cute/intelligent/hilarious as yours. That's why, for the childless among you, when your friends start having kids their Facebook news feeds are suddenly littered with photos of toddlers doing things which, to you, seem unremarkable. Even boring.

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But there's a line between being proud of your children and exalting them to undeserved status as the bestest baby ever. Reagan sees this, even if the other moms in Mr. Bob's class (especially Galaxy Quest's Missi Pyle) don't. There's a level of competitveness in parenting I honestly have yet to see, but I know it's coming. On network TV, Reagan triumphs over Other Mommy by bringing some improvisation to the class, a tactic Mr. Bob (Michael Hitchcock) appreciates at first. But things go downhill quickly when Mr. Bob has to take a phone call ("My ninth niece was just born!") and Chris takes the reins. Reagan is kicked out, and I had a sudden premonition about my reaction the first time some other father congratulates his kid for kicking mine in the shins at a soccer game.

The show's producers also seem to have found a way to address the Ava Issue: namely, dialing back Maya Rudolph in order to keep things grounded in reality. Her "wackiness" (christ I hate that word) is best when parceled out in smaller doses, like when she's trying to operate her car (her driver has a hangover) while talking to Chris. The focus should be on Reagan, Chris, and the baby, and last night's episode shows they seem to have found the right mix. I continue to enjoy Will Arnett's new subdued persona. Chris is a good mix of doting father and impending identity crisis.

Just in time too, the show was recently renewed for a second season.

I'd like to see Hitchcock and Pyle as recurring characters, like maybe two or three times a season. They want to be careful about distracting the aud...hey, Bill Hader!

Other high points:

Reagan: "Who is she to judge me? Ruth Bader Ginsburg?" Ava: "Ha ha! I don't know who that is."

A transvestite Bangle tribute band called Manic Manday.

Chris (to Reagan): "Mr. Bob doesn't really like it a whole lot when parents go 'off book.'"

Ava (to baby Amy): "I love what you've done with your hair."


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