The charming "Up All Night" (Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. ET) has always seemed a little like the red-headed stepchild of NBC's comedy line-up; it doesn't have the cult following of "Community" or the critical acclaim of "30 Rock," nor did it earn the instant derision of "Animal Practice." But despite a freshman season that featured at least three major shifts in direction, it still managed to be a warm-hearted, frequently funny series about a young couple (Christina Applegate and Will Arnett) dealing with the trials and tribulations of parenthood, with a working mom and a stay-at-home dad to offer a fresh perspective on a familiar concept.
Season 2 of "Up All Night" saw yet another shift, with the dissolution of Maya Rudolph's Oprah-esque talk show-within-a-show that kept host, Ava, busy for most of last season. Now that "The Ava Show" has been canceled, Ava and her best friend/producer Reagan (Applegate) have been relegated back to suburbia, and dad Chris (Arnett) is tasked with being the breadwinner while Reagan takes some time at home with daughter Amy. The show also decided to add another series regular, Reagan's laid-back brother Scott (Luka Jones) to reinforce that family dynamic.
HuffPost TV visited the set to talk with Applegate and Arnett about the progression of the series, real-life parenthood, the addition of Scott and the success of their other projects.
It seems that there’s much more of a focus on the family aspects of the show this season, and you're both staying in the neighborhood as opposed to Reagan being off at the studio. Are you happy with that change? Does it feel more natural at this point?
Arnett: Yeah, I think that we’re doing a good job in all the stories of getting down to the core of what makes the show work and certainly, that holds true for our characters and even for the Ava character ... kind of bringing everybody [together], making it much more home-based in the lives of these people because maybe last year, we kind of spread it out too much.
Applegate: It was like two different shows, and it’s not that it was bad -- people loved it ... I think the person that benefits the most is Ava because we get to see her outside of that environment. She was always stuck in those hallways of that studio and now….
Arnett: You get to see her in life.
Applegate: Maya/Ava gets to have a lot more guests that are fun and different and she gets to be in different environments and kind of explore who she is as a person, besides just being a celebrity and besides just being that entity.
Arnett: Yeah, you see the relationship between these three characters in a real way.
Can you talk a little bit about what you feel Scott has brought to the show as things have evolved?
Applegate: Kind of a balance, I think, to the neuroses of the other three people. It’s nice to have someone who kind of anchors everyone a little bit.
Arnett: You get to see some context too for Reagan and for her character because I think last year we explored a lot of Reagan’s character and even though we had parents come in and out, by having this Scott character there, you really get to see where she came from and what she is about and it helps explore her character on a deeper level.
Earlier this season, the first two or three episodes, there was a kind of tension between your characters as you settled into new roles, with Reagan staying at home and Chris going into work. Is that going to continue?
Applegate: No, I don’t think we’ll be bickering in that sense. I think that what people love and I think what Will and I love the most is when Reagan and Chris are really a team. They make a good team and they really do love each other. I prefer it when it’s like that than us being at odds with one another. I think a lot of shows, the married couple, the comedy, it's always coming out of them bickering and I think what is really unique about our show is that the comedy comes out of them being a team and working together for a common goal. I think we’re going to see more of that and I’m glad that we are because I enjoy that. I enjoy getting to do those things where he and I are partners in crime.
Arnett: Ditto. [Laughs.]
Reagan is very Type A and seemed to thrive at work, is she going to have difficulty settling back into being at home all the time?
Applegate: I think she’s going to start to itch. She’s already starting to itch in these next episodes that we’ve been shooting. She needs something more. A personality like that can’t just be stuck in one place -- not that she doesn’t appreciate getting to spend time with her daughter. I mean, I can relate to that more than anything in the world. That’s my life. All I want to do is be home with [daughter Sadie] and get to spend time, but I know that after a while, you kind of go, "OK. I've got to do something else too, in addition to." Wouldn’t trade it for a second.
Turning to your other projects for a moment; Christina, it seemed like everyone had something positive to say about your hosting gig on "Saturday Night Live," which never seems to happen these days. How was it for you?
Applegate: It was a blast, I have to say. I would go do that again, and again, and again. Even as crazy as it is, what an amazing, well-oiled machine they are over there. It’s amazing that they do that every week. From the top down, it’s incredible. So that was a huge, huge honor and really exciting. And I'm so, so grateful to my Lorne, Lorne Michaels for having me.
Will, everyone is so excited for the return of "Arrested Development." I know Mitch Hurwitz is keeping everything close to the vest, but can you say anything about the new season?
Arnett: Yeah, I can tell you the plot. [Laughs.] No, it’s been going great. I can’t really get into any of the specifics, but I can say that we kind of pick up right where we left off with these characters. You see what they’ve been doing for the last six years and I’ll say this ... It’s kind of like everything you would hope for that these characters would do. They’re in every awful situation and they, once again, left to their own devices, become the worst versions of themselves.
Does it feel like a nice family reunion, getting the gang back together after all this time?
Arnett: Yeah, it is a family reunion. I don’t know if I’d say nice. [Laughs.] No, for me, it’s great -- it’s been so much fun working with everybody again. It’s been so interesting and fun and exciting.
"Up All Night" airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC.
Played by: Henry Winkler Winkler actually made us forget the Fonz with his performance as the Bluth's memorably incompetent lawyer, whose attempts to give the family legal advice were hindered by the fact that he appeared to know nothing about the law. Maybe Zuckerkorn was so cheerfully unhelpful because he was more focused on his mysterious personal life, which involved rest stops, prostitutes and predilections that sounded, shall we say, unconventional. The show's Fonzie references had him giving a familiar "Ayyy!" in the mirror before combing his hair and, at one point, referencing an infamous "Happy Days" scene by jumping over a shark.
Played by: Scott Baio This Bluth family lawyer appeared to be a slightly more competent than Barry Zuckerkorn, but you'd think an ethical attorney would not represent one Bluth spouse while dating another, as happened when he worked on Tobias and Lindsay's divorce. Most notable for the slogan in his low-budget TV ads ("Why should you go to jail for a crime someone else noticed?") and for his web site, the Bob Loblaw Law Blog.
Played by: Ed Begley Jr. This hairless land magnate (whose misplaced eyebrows were a dependable source of hilarity) was the Bluth Company's frequent antagonist, and the forthright way in which he conducted business stood in contrast to the Bluth's frequent ethical lapses. The families' frienemy status went back years -- Michael always had a crush on his daughter, Sally (Christine Taylor), but he could never quite close that deal.
Played by: Liza Minnelli The vertigo-challenged retiree was Buster's paramour for a while, despite his fear of (and attraction to) older women and her problems staying upright. Minnelli's game, energetic performance as Lucille was a lot of fun, and her rivalry with Lucille 1 was especially delicious.
Played by: Ben Stiller GOB's magician idol was every bit as douchey as you'd expect him to be, and if we have any complaints about the character, it's that Stiller's schedule didn't allow him to stop by the Gothic Castle that often. No doubt true Tony Wonder fans own his stupendous magic video, "Use Your Allusion."
Played by: Judy Greer "Take a look at these!" You might recall Kitty Sanchez as an unstable former Bluth Company employee who was prone to showing off her breast implants, and that just about describes her particular brand of freaky insanity. But don't forget her infamous drink-off with Lucille at Senor Tadpoles, her creepy affair with GOB and her devious attempts to extort the Bluth family and steal George's sperm (timeless wisdom from George: "Never promise crazy a baby"). Would any of it have turned out differently if the producers of the "Girls with Low Self-Esteem" video series hadn't rejected a pre-implant Kitty?
Played by: Justin Lee George and Lucille's attempt to adopt a child came at an inopportune time: He arrived in the midst of the government's prosecution of George Bluth's various crimes. Still, Annyong was soon one of the family (much to Buster's chagrin), and though he went missing for much of Season 2, George found him living inside the walls of Lucille's condo in Season 3. Most memorable quote: "Annyong!"
Played by: Justin Grant Wade This popular jock was the object of Maeby's affections for quite some time, until she found out that GOB was his father and thus Steve Holt! was her cousin. (George Michael, despite his jealousy, was torn about informing Maeby of this fact, given that he himself had a crush on his cousin.) In the show's third season, he and GOB explored their father-son relationship, and even Michael got pulled into the Steve Holt! cult when he trained for a triathalon with him. Steve's exhortation to a weary Michael: "There's no 'I' in win!"
Played by: Amy Poehler Poehler played the wife of her real-life husband, Will Arnett, in a few episodes that highlighted both the haste with which GOB tied the knot and the fact that he never actually slept with her the night they got hitched. One of the few fans of Dr. Funke's 100% Natural Good-Time Family Band Solution, she figured prominently in the infamous "loose seal" incident that deprived Buster of his hand, and when she was in the Army, she had an unfortunate tendency to pose for very questionable photos.
Playing himself, the "Predator" actor sold Tobias a series of worthless acting lessons, but the most valuable advice he offered consisted of lessons in being thrifty. Thanks to Weathers, "Arrested Development" fans no longer throw away bones after a meal -- they make a stew. There's still plenty of meat on that bone!
Played by: James Lipton The warden of George's prison was an artistic soul: He allowed Tobias to bunk in a cell to prepare for a tiny role as an inmate, and he later pitched Maeby on his script for "New Warden," a hilarious compendium of jail cliches that, in one episode, was acted out by little kids. Needless to say, a savvy executive like Maeby wasn't interested.
In a cast full of characters who are willing to say almost anything, Franklin, a puppet GOB used in his act, stood out. His song "It Ain't Easy Bein' White" wasn't the crossover hit GOB was hoping for, and in a tragic turn of events, he was accidentally dyed white. Before that, an angry Franklin delivered a stinging putdown to Lucille in the clip here. (I don't know who's more shocked by Franklin's outburst, Lucille or Buster.)
Played by: Zach Braff The magnate at the heart of the Girls With Low Self-Esteem empire shared an unlikely secret with Tobias: They were both Never-Nudes, nudity-shunners who sported matching cut-offs beneath their clothes. There were quite a few notable actors (Martin Mull as Gene Parmesan, Malik Yoba as Ice, Jane Lynch as Cindi Lightballoon, Robb Corddry as Moses Taylor) whose roles on "AD" weren't large, but they made a strong impression anyway.
Played by: Mae Whitman Can't quite recall this character. Was her name Yam? Bland? Plant? Annabelle? In all seriousness, Mae Whitman is a terrific actress, but the show had a lot of fun with Michael's inability to remember anything about her or even that his son was dating her. Really? Her?
Played by: Steve Ryan This one-armed man was a constant menace during the Bluth children's childhood: George would employ Weatherman in grisly scenarios designed to teach the kids lessons ("And that's why we leave a note!"). He was central to the hilarious pot bust that took place at the Bluth's boat, and at one point in Season 3, he teamed up with the handless Buster to deliver an elaborate lesson to the Bluth brothers, after Buster ran into him at Weatherman's prosthetics shop. But I'll stop there, because I've learned my lesson: That's why we don't make lists of supporting characters!