NBC Is Turning Up All Night Into a Multi-Camera Comedy, What's Next?

Have you ever been in a relationship with someone and things aren't going well, but maybe they're really popular or super attractive so you keep trying to make it work by adopting a cat together, taking ballroom dancing lessons, or making a baby? NBC is in one of those relationships right now with Up All Night, its second-season sitcom that currently airs on Thursday nights and features bona fide television stars Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, and Maya Rudolph.

Though it's only 30 episodes old, Up All Night has already undergone more face lifts than the cast of Desperate Housewives, as NBC attempts to find a sweet spot between edgy NBC Thursday-night comedy and dumbed-down opiate for the masses. Here's a quick timeline of what the show's already been through, for those who are just catching up:


FEBRUARY 2011: NBC orders a pilot for Alpha Mom, a comedy about a woman who balances a new baby and a demanding work schedule as a PR executive, while her husband quits his job as a lawyer to be a stay-at-home dad. This is THE basis of the show.


AFTER BRIDESMAIDS (MAY 2011): Hoping to capitalize on the success of the raunchy female comedy and Rudolph's participation in it, NBC "suggests" retooling the show with a job change for Applegate and Rudolph's characters, with the pair going from PR executives to Rudolph having her own talk show and Applegate working as her producer.


LATE JULY 2012: NBC decides it likes its comedy "broader" (i.e. more boring) and cuts out most of the work aspect of the show to focus on domestic stories. The talk show gets canceled, and Applegate's working mom returns home while her husband goes back to work. The series, which was originally about a woman juggling a new baby and a tough job, is now mostly about parents having a baby.


TODAY (OCTOBER 29, 2012): NBC says "Screw it, let's make it a multi-camera comedy like we always wanted it to be, thus completing the show's total shaming." The change will take effect when it returns in the spring after a break. NBC hopes the break will be long enough that nobody will notice.


SPRING 2013: Everyone notices.


2014: NBC shifts gears again, and Applegate, Arnett, and Rudolph will now be judges in a reality singing competition show. The show is a hit!



Yep, Up All Night will make the ultra-rare transformation from single-camera comedy to multi-camera comedy in the middle of its second season. Production will stop after the episode that's currently being filmed is complete, and then the show will take a three-month break so multi-camera sets can be constructed. After that, Up All Night will return in the spring as a completely different show for an additional five episodes.

This is bound to be a shock for some of you, but is it going to be the good kind of shock (like "I just won the lottery!") or the bad kind of shock (like "That bitch Julie in human resources who thinks she's all that just won the lottery!")? Let's weigh the pros and cons to find out.


PRO: Multi-camera means MORE cameras! That means more shots of Arnett and Applegate in the same frame! That will allow us to analyze the real chemistry between the two so we can make hasty decisions with reagrd to whether Applegate had anything to do with Arnett's divorce from Amy Poehler.


CON: Arnett doing multi-camera comedy is like Ray Lewis playing flag football. It's like Guy Fieri using a microwave. It's like Vin Diesel in a Prius.


PRO: One problem I had with Up All Night in its early going (I haven't watched much since) is that I didn't know when to laugh. The new Up All Night will be filmed in front of a live studio audience and will no doubt feature a laugh track that will kick in during the purest comedy moments to avoid those awkward situations when you laugh at something you're not supposed to.


CON: See above.


PRO: The change will prove unsuccessful, forcing NBC to finally cancel this thing and let the talented cast move on to better things.


CON: Or maybe it won't!



What do you think the format change will do to the show? Will you still watch?

Comments (54)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
Well that's my time with that one then. What a waste, it was pretty good last season.
Reply
Flag
NBC desperately trying to steal the CBS crowd? Good thing Community and Parks would tank themselves before this would happen to them.
Reply
Flag
If Up All Night acknowledge this ridiculous-ness in the actual show and just go balls to the wall for their final five (I think it's five) episodes then maybe the show will have a chance as multi cam.
Reply
Flag
Up All Night is NBC's runner up for least-watched scripted show, so why continue to throw changes at it in an attempt to salvage it? I can only assume either they have fairly expensive contract situation with the stars which makes it too expensive to dump, or someone on the exec staff actually believes in it for some reason yet has no compunction about changing everything about it. NBC's 3-camera sitcoms lately have not performed well with either audiences or critics, nobody is going to be buying them down the road on home media, so what's the point of chasing the same style as Whitney and Guys with Kids? This seems short-sighted and bound to torpedo what little audience has built up around it already.
Reply
Flag
ahahahahahahahahahaha can't wait to see this new improved multi version! spring cant come fast enough
Reply
Flag
There was once a good multi-camera comedy that was edgy - Lucky Louie.
Reply
Flag
This smells so much like a cancellation waiting to happen that i can hardly breathe.
Reply
Flag
- Not sure if NBC really thinks this will help, or if they're pulling a Fox (rather than cancel it outright, change it so much that the fans stop watching it to justify cancellation).



- Why have a laugh track if you film before a live studio audience?



- I'm sure Guy Fieri uses a microwave all the time. I'm not sure the man can actually cook. All I ever see him do is drive to diners and shill TGI Friday's.
Reply
Flag
I am still watching season 1.

It has been funny so far, so it is a shame that they changed it.
1
Reply
Flag
"One problem I had with Up All Night in its early going (I haven't watched much since) is that I didn't know when to laugh"



that is probably true. you're a moron
Reply
Flag
WTF?? I guess there's a lot of drinking in NBC...
Reply
Flag
Re-tooling is fine before and sometimes even during the first season. I'd even say you can do a final re-tool before the second season begins. But at that point you should have it pretty set. I honestly am finding this hard to believe. Sure, it's not the funniest of shows, but then again I never watched it as a pure comedy. I like it, but I probably wouldn't have missed it had it been cancelled. However, to take this show and re-tool it this much? It's just insane. You'll get less of an audience tuning in next week (and those will be just the high use internet folks) and when it returns you'll probably see a diminishing return. When Scrubs did their multi-camera episode it was truly tragic, and that was for one episode. This will be horrendous.
Reply
Flag
it seems as though NBC is chasing CBS, trying to create more humdrum multicam situational comedies. But the reason why I have watched the entire Thursday night block for the last 5 years is because THEY ARE NOT multicam shows. Once again TV execs using an outdated and flawed system to put the axe to quality TV.
Reply
Flag
We are talking about a network that does not like Community enough to actually air its fourth season, so there is no reason to assume that NBC will cancel this thing
Reply
Flag
Honestly, I can't tell by watching a show if it's single camera or multi-camera and don't know how you guys can do it. I don't think about it anyway. I only care about the show being funny. I like the idea of the show being filmed in front of a live studio audience because, more often than not, they are way more funny. They have to be because people are there watching!
Reply
Flag
Multi Camera: Two and a half men, Mike and Molly, HIMYM, Friends,

Single Camera: Community, Parks and Rec, Modern Family, Up All Night, Louie.

From this you can get a 'sense' of what is multi and what is single camera.
Reply
Flag
Multi-camera refers to traditional sitcoms like the "I Love Lucy", "Seinfield", "Big Bang Theory", or "Friends" type comedies. Single Camera refers to shows like "Arrested Development", "The Office", "Community", or "30 Rock".



Essentially the multi-camera style HAS to be used for shows like "Friends" where they film on a stage in front of a studio audience so they can capture all the lines as best as possible. You can tell multi-camera shows not only by the audience laughing or laugh track, but also by the angle of shots. If Joey enters the room stage left and the Chandler is on the coach stage right, then the further most camera usually will pick him up giving the viewers an angle that somewhat simulates Chandler's viewing angle.



Overall, the single camera show reflects angles you would see in a normal film. Characters are framed in such a way that makes more sense in film than does on stages. You also get angles you would rarely if ever see on a multi-cam show, like characters looking straight into the camera as in "Modern Family".



So the change from single cam to multicam is HUGE. And it will fail.
Reply
Flag
Thanks for all of your explanations. I should be able to see the difference easier now. However, I'm still way more concerned about a funny script than multi or single camera setup.
Reply
Flag
Such a bad idea, there is nothing worse then a laugh track :(
Reply
Flag
What an awful idea! Just have Ava get a new show or launch a fashion line-ANYTHING-- so that she can work with Regan again! They have just murdered this show with the multi idea
Reply
Flag
So these episodes will pretty much air just before the new season of Arrested Development?
Reply
Flag
I wonder if it will come with a laugh-track, or if it will be multi-cam, without one. Is it possible that they will just utilize more cameras, without any kind of change to the show's "format?," or will it become a whole new show?
Reply
Flag
Well, honestly, I don't know if i will come back after the break. Even with the more Alpha Mom storyline last season, it was just kind of a meh show. But, this season, getting rid of the talk show and any interesting supporting actors and replacing it will the dullest storyline and character ever? My meh is turning into blech.



I'm starting to become convinced that the 30 Rock storyline that NBC is purposely trying to tank itself so that "Kabletown/Comcast" will sell it, maybe isn't so farfetched after all.
Reply
Flag
I understand the decisions in doing so....but still lots of negatives :(

2012:

- Community absent on NBC's midseason schedule.

- Dan Harmon gets fired

- Cancels Awake

- Renews Whitney

- Decides it no longer has interest in single camera sitcoms.

- Removes Community from NBC's fall schedule. (could also be considered a good move)

- Renews Guys with Kids

- Cancels Animal Practice

- Hasn't made the decision to run Mockingbird Lane as series.

- Up All Night will be multiformated.

- NBC is ruining their Thursday nights.
Reply
Flag
Meh. I liked the first season, but this season so far has disappointed me. I'm basically just watching it to kill time, anymore.
Reply
Flag
It turns out that my decision to dropped the season 2 of Up All Night is a good decision. What were NBC thinking ?
Reply
Flag
HAHAHAHAHA. Typical NBC.
Reply
Flag
Doesn't "multi-camera" usually come with "laugh track"? You can't take a show that's never had a laugh track and give it one. That doesn't work. That never works.

I guess if NBC was in the room, they'd counter me by pointing out "WHAT ABOUT SCOOBY DOO?"
Reply
Flag
I don't understand this. NBC makes the weirdest decisions. If it pays off, good for them, but I have my doubts.
Reply
Flag
What the WHAT?! Just kill it already so they can move on to something with better writing. Also, find people who can write better.
Reply
Flag
IF THEY DO THAT TO COMMUNITY, BLOOD WILL BE SHED!
Reply
Flag
I quit on the show early this second season but this is such a stupid idea. It's definitely getting canceled.

Also, if they are going with a laugh track (fake or actual audience laughter) they're going to have to get completely different writers (or the current writers will have to take a different approach) because the show rarely had laugh-out-loud moments. At its best it provided snickers and smiles and smirks and giggles and tee-hee-hees. The laugh track will sound really odd with Up All Night's usual jokes.

Chris: What kind of soup is this?

Reagan: Cream of breast milk.

HAHAHAHAHA. - Weird.
Reply
Flag
Staff
Being pedantic, and I apologize: A laugh track is laughter added to an episode that was shot _without_ an audience, and is meant to simulate audience laughter. Until the episodes air, no way of knowing if the producers will use canned laughter to "sweeten" things. (And sometimes jokes just play better live than they do on TV after an audience has been warmed up.)

So, yes, some shows "oversweeten" and some are just really funny live. It's sometimes hard to tell which.

Sorry, again. The whole laugh track/audience laughter/single-cam/multi-cam thing is a hobby horse of mine. I promise to keep it in check from now on. :)
Reply
Flag
Wut?!

Let me repeat: Wut?!!

I don't...what...how..does this mean...uh...what's happening?

You say this is an "ultra-rare transformation". A quick Google search tells me that the last time this happened was with Happy Days. That's before I was born. No wonder I'm this stunned. How come it feels like the only way to see this is as a demotion? One day you're doing glamorous single-cam comedy, and then you're showed down the staircase onto the lowly multi-cam stage along with a bunch of other measly acting drones. There's so much to be said about this, but I'll just stop here.
Reply
Flag
Staff
Well, using your Happy Days example, the series went from a single cam in its first season to a multi-cam format for the rest of its run (10 seasons or so), so not much of a demotion there, really. The different between then and now is the fact that we seem to attach a great deal more cultural cachet to single camera shows. *avoids that soapbox*
Reply
Flag
Happy Days was also the series from which "jumping the shark" was coined, so it wasn't all great going. There just wasn't much competition for it back in the day.
Reply
Flag
Staff
"There was an episode of Happy Days where a guy literally jumped over a shark. And it was the best one."
Reply
Flag
While it hasn't been that great a show, its still really enjoyable. I don't understand why NBC would retool their own show multiple times.
Reply
Flag
Staff
Two words: Lorne Michaels. (More complicated than that, of course, but I imagine he's a big part of it.)
Reply
Flag
@Noelrk What's Lorne's Michaels history of doing similar stuff to other shows or w/e?
Reply
Flag
Staff
Not similar stuff, but Lorne Michaels is the brains behind SNL, so productions deals with him tend to survive a bit longer as a result (Hi, 30 Rock!)
Reply
Flag
Why can't NBC accept that they're really bad at making multi-camera comedies but really good at making smart, low ratings comedies?
Reply
Flag
The show has sucked this season anyway. I enjoyed the first one and only kept watching in the hope that some of the original's spirit still existed, which it didn't. Bye Up All Night, neither your current incarnation nor your christina applegate's brother character will be missed!
Reply
Flag
WOW NBC man you guys are just full of it. I'm starting to wonder if the executives do drugs. Like c'mon how could you do this to a comedy.
Reply
Flag
This stinks! *pout*
Reply
Flag
Anybody else thinks this is a bad idea.
Reply
Flag
That one early Matthew Perry sitcom where he was a teen didn't change format, but it did shut down after three episodes, completely retool the premise, fire one of the two main characters and pretend he never existed, and then get cancelled anyways.
Reply
Flag
Next week: Community to become documentary series: NBC builds whole school, reinvents education system, then puts the show on hiatus.
Reply
Flag
Yes but that might turn out to be awesome.
Reply
Flag
Also, the more knowledgeable and senior TV watchers, has this ever been done before?? A sitcom changing format in the middle of its run?
Reply
Flag
Staff
Happy Days did it, I know for sure (only its first season was single-cam). I want to say that The Odd Couple did as well, but I could be wrong. More recently (earlier '00s), Watching Ellie with Julia Louis-Dreyfus also switched formats.
Reply
Flag
Thanks! This is why I go to TV.com for all my TV knowledge.
Reply
Flag
Desperation. Last attempt before inevitable cancellation next year. Just wait until Parks and Rec is also cancelled in May, it's coming! The entire block on Thursday will be gone. Very sad.
Reply
Flag
What??? This is insanity. I haven't really liked season 2 since the brother came on; Ava's assistant was a much better supporting character. I'll probably give up entirely now that it's muti-cam.
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook

  • 8:00 pm
    The Bachelorette
    NEW
    ABC
  • 10:00 pm
    Mistresses Blurred Lines
    NEW
    ABC