This news is weird, right? TVline reported this week that Up All Night, the NBC family sitcom starring Will Arnett, Christina Applegate and Maya Rudolph is making the change from their current single camera format to multi-cam after their extended winter hiatus this season.
The show, in its sophomore season, will air its last single camera episode in December before taking a three month hiatus, during which they'll reconfigure the sets in order to make them viable for a multi-cam setup.
I've never actually read any statistics on this, but as far as I know, a camera format change in the middle of a series' run is incredible rare, perhaps unprecedented. I've certainly never heard of it happening before, and I feel like a disruption that severe to a show's tone and look is a big risk. It's sure to alienate some current viewers, and I find it hard to believe that it could bring in any new ones. Anyone not watching Up All Night already is unlikely to jump onboard simply because of a few more cameras.
The idea evidently came from Saturday Night Live and Up All Night executive producer Lorne Michaels, "who was looking for a way to infuse the show with more energy and got the idea after seeing both Applegate and Rudolph’s most recent SNL hosting appearances." I guess I get that - they were both a great success on SNL and the multi-cam format, with the audience that entails, does offer more of a "live" feel to performers. But is such a bold change worth it?
I've only seen a couple of episodes of Up All Night, but I really enjoyed them. I think Rudolph, Arnett and Applegate are a consummate sitcom trio. They all have terrific timing and delivery, and their chemistry with one another, in any combination of pairings, is a dream. The writing is sharp, the laughs are big.
But here's the thing: the show never caught on with me on a permanent basis because I just don't relate to the premise. Up All Night is about working parents juggling child-rearing and jobs, and while I can dig that, it doesn't really have anything to do with me. I'll catch an episode here or there, but I'm just not invested enough in that scenario to watch the show religiously.
Now this is only a theory, but I'm wondering if that's part of the reason behind the change. The single camera format is newer and hipper, and the shows that use it generally have a younger audience. I'm wondering if Michaels is looking at the demographics for Up All Night and seeing it run to working parents, who are more inclined to embrace the more traditional multi camera format. I mean, look at CBS' typical audience, and all of CBS' typical sitcoms. Parents and multi-cam.
My first instinct is always "single-cam good, multi-cam bad," but I know that's my personal prejudice and a simplified, knee-jerk reaction. I can't help but feel like this is a bad idea, taking a cool show and making it less cool, taking a couple steps backward into dreaded Big Bang Theory territory. But hey, what do they care what I think? I wasn't watching their show anyway.