Up All Night has hit its stride. Fans can relax now that NBC has announced that the freshman sitcom will be picked up for a full season. Writers of the show can also feel free to explore more creative storylines and make the necessary tweaks to turn the above-average sitcom into a breakout, laugh-out-loud hit. Unfortunately, this episode failed to capitalize on the recent news and fell short compared to the last couple episodes. “New Car” is easily the least funny of the series so far, but is still funnier than half of the freshman class. And that’s saying something.
“New Car” opens with Chris and Reagan loading her convertible with gear for the beach so they can take Amy for the first time. Chris’ car is at the mechanic, so the couple tries to fit everything they need into the sports car. Did anyone else think that they really didn’t need all of that stuff? Though it wasn’t practical, it produced a smart and fun cold opening. After finally succeeding and buckling up they realize they left the baby and can’t even fit her in the car. This sets up the plot: “We need a new car” which is answered with a whiney “But I don’t wanna.”
While looking for a new car, Reagan refuses to take it seriously, but the writers keep it light and airy. Instead of a typical spat we’d see in a sitcom about a married couple, the Brinkleys decide to drink wine and calm down. Chris comes across the DeLorean from Back to the Future and then Reagan suggest they look for the van from A-Team because if a car can withstand machine gun fire it will be safe for a baby. (Bonus: it has a tape deck!) Cut to the next morning and guess what? The couple bid on the eBay auction and actually won the ridiculous van. A mysterious Native American drops off the van. Pete Little Bear claims two of his children were born in the van and then disappears. Reagan thinks he’s a shape-shifter, and later Chris calls Pete’s daughter who claims he died 36 years ago. The jokes about Native American spiritualism may have been politically incorrect, but they were cleverly placed and not harped on.
After the A-Team van eats a cassette tape, they decide they need a pratical, new car and head to the dealership. During a test drive in a beige, excuse me, champagne SUV the couple pulls up next to the annoying couple that have been sprinkled into every episode, but haven’t really made a mark. The couple, who might as well be called the Annoyings, owns the same exact car they’re driving. It’s clever to use the Annoyings as a parallel to what the Brinkleys do not want to become. We already know from a few episodes that growing into mature adults isn’t exactly on Reagan and Chris’ to-do list.
Meanwhile Ava discovers she was in a magazine in a list about high school drop-outs. She sets out to produce a smart episode and orders her assistant Missy, played by the hilarious Jennifer Hall, to pick up a book on the economic collapse so Ava can invite the author onto the talk show. After repeatedly telling Missy not to disrupt her, Ava sits down and is instantaneously bored; the next logical step is to head to Las Vegas for a party. A worried Reagan gets Chris, who used to cram for tests all the time in law school, to help her with the book. Ava manages to pull random facts and impress everyone in the studio audience.
The balance of the main characters that was one of the main problems is working itself out. Now the writers can focus on bringing the recurring characters to life. Missy has appeared in every episode but is still underutilized. She’s desperate to please, and there are a lot of untapped comedic stories that can fall into place as the series progresses. And what’s up with Nick Cannon’s character? He appeared on screen for one line and hasn’t been involved in the series other than one measly storyline. Either bring him into the series or don’t. The writers will probably figure out the recurring character problems over the rest of the first season as well as all the other small problems that are holding Up All Night back from being a smash hit.