Sure, 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation suck up all the critics’ ink and The Office (somehow, still) gets the most viewers. But the youngest show on the lineup, Up All Night, has distinguished itself too this season, if only as a program worthy of joining the most beloved comedies on the air. It had some turbulent times at the beginning of this season–Up All Night had definitely not decided if it were to be a workplace comedy or a family comedy–and still has some tonal shifts. The best decision the writers made, in fact, was to ever-so-slightly downshift the baby keeping the central couple up all night, so the overwhelming screen presence of Maya Rudolph doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the series when she shows up as harried mom Christina Applegate’s boss. Discussing a show solely in terms of its improvement since its pilot seems somehow churlish, so we’ll note that none of its jokes are super-showy, Up All Night has plenty going for it in terms of subtle chuckles, and its characters are the “realest” among NBC’s Thursday comedies–even Maya Rudolph’s narcissistic talk-show host.
Set your DVR for NBC at 9:30pm.