If you look at the best sitcoms on TV, they're pretty much all single-camera. One camera shooting all the action without a live audience. Shows like The Office and Modern Family are single-cam. Over the past few years, this was the direction that the most creative shows on TV were moving in. There are still plenty of multi-camera shows, though, with programs like Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory being shot with several cameras.
The news broke today that NBC would convert Up All Night, one of its struggling Thursday comedies, from single-cam to multi-cam. While it's an odd move for a show to make this switch in the first place, it's even odder for one to do so in the middle of a season.
The modestly rated Thursday night comedy has received an order for three additional episodes and will switch from single to a multicamera format and film in front of a live studio audience.
The Christina Applegate, Maya Rudlolph and Will Arnett starrer will take a three-month hiatus following the production of episode 11 (which wraps next week) and will shut down production to convert its stages into a multicamera format similar to CBS' The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men.
Production will resume in February for five multicamera episodes, bringing its total episode count from 13 to 16.The move was apparently prompted by uber-producer Lorne Michaels, who had watched Up All Night stars Christina Applegate and Maya Rudolph on the Saturday Night Live stage over the past year, and thought the energy from a live audience would help Up All Night find its grove.
Head past the jump to see what this means for Up All Night ... and Community.
Up All Night is a decent show. It's harmlessly funny, and it has a cast made up of really funny people like Applegate, Rudolph and Will Arnett (who, unexplainably, has never hosted SNL). Despite being funny, though, Up All Night isn't a show that going to win any awards. It's not going to get mentioned among the great sitcoms of history. And if it went away, no one would really miss it.
NBC has already retooled Up All Night twice, first revising Rudolph's character of Ava after the actress found success with Bridesmaids. If you watch the show's pilot again, Rudolph sports two different haircuts, so you can see where the show kept footage that was originally shot and where the show replaced scenes to reflect the character's new direction. Up All Night was then retooled before its second season kicked off, scuttling the Ava Show plot and adding Luka Jones as the brother of Applegate's character.
This is a lot of effort put into a show that people really aren't watching. I'm amazed that NBC is expending resources like this keep Up All Night alive when the network hasn't had a problem killing off show's that performed better. I'm sure the fact that Up All Night is Michaels' production doesn't hurt. Meanwhile, Community still sits on the shelf. NBC has yet to announce any plan to promote Community or even a return date. To share the words of one friend of mine on Twitter, "It's like NBC has actually been taken over by Kabletown." Someone is clearly trying to tank the network now.