NBC is continuing to make some changes to its ratings-challenged Thursday night sitcom Up All Night. Deadline reports the network has ordered three more episodes of the second season, extended it from 13 to 16 episodes, and the final five will be filmed multi-camera with a live studio audience. The cast and crew are currently filming episode 11, but after it wraps next week, they’ll take a three-month production hiatus to equip the stage and set for multi-camera filming and a live audience.
All of the single camera episodes will finish airing in December, when the show will take a hiatus until April/May when the rejiggered show will return. The Up All Night hiatus bodes well for Community with its half-hour chunk of primetime real estate now being up for grabs in January. With 30 Rock likely to end its run in January/February, there will be two open slots in NBC’s Thursday night sitcom block, which will likely be filled with Community or midseason sitcoms 1600 Penn and Save Me.
The multi-cam switch idea apparently came from Up All Night producer Lorne Michaels after seeing how well Maya Rudolph and Christina Applegate did on SNL, which is shot multi-camera with a live audience. It’s an unusual move but not unprecedented. The troubled Julia Louis Dreyfus 2002 NBC sitcom Watching Ellie (also starring Steve Carell!) is the most recent example of a show being switched from single to multi-cam and adding a live audience, but classics like Happy Days and The Odd Couple also made the same switch after their first seasons (although they each contained laughtracks originally). Up All Night has been no stranger to retooling. In between seasons 1 and 2, the workplace element was dropped, Tucker Cawley became the new showrunner, cast member Jennifer Hall was let go, and Luka Jones was hired. At least the fact that NBC is investing so much money in rebuilding the set means that they’re willing to keep the show around for a little while longer instead of cancelling it as some ratings forecasters expected. The best part of the multi-cam/live studio audience switch? We’ll get to hear the audience “ooh” and “ahh” over that baby.