Every week I look forward to my watching my weekly dose of American comedies: Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, The Office, Community (when it’s on) and now, Up All Night.
There’s something about these shows that makes them scarily watchable. I think I watched most of the first two seasons of Community in one super lethargic weekend.
Up All Night is a new entry, recommended by a friend of mine, and I really like it. One of the great things about it is the real economy of story telling in the title sequence – the way it fleshes out their life is fantastic. The timing with the music is perfect.
However, about half way through the season they start messing around with the title sequence. They put in some new shots, there’s a few tweaks. But ultimately, they’ve made it worse. The sequence is slightly wrong (some of the party shots are in the wrong place). It looks like it’s the original edited together by someone who doesn’t quite follow the story in the original – or someone who doesn’t appreciate that the title sequence is itself telling a story, and thinks it’s just a series of clips.
It made me realise how important it is to check against the original and check your calibration.
It’s also made me realise how crazily watchable these American programmes are. There’s just something about the script and characters that means you can’t do anything but love them. I suppose part of it is that Friends thing that you want to be their friends – you like spending time with them. But almost more than that, it’s the easily, effortless laughs. The plots are simple, but not boring, and not patronising, the characters are full and rich, but likeable, and the style is engaging but not confusing.
It’s a real balancing act, and one that so many American comedy writers and directors seem to pull off.