Up All Night” debuted in its Thursday night post-“Office” slot and proved what we kind of all already knew: it’s more than a worthy replacement for the abysmal “Whitney,” but not nearly good enough to make up for the loss of “Community.” That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped liking the show. I’ll happily eat the hamburger, but I’m still gonna be pissed that the filet mignon in unicorn sauce was taken off the menu. Aaaaanyway…this is the last time I’ll whip out the “Community” comparisons. It’s not really fair. Well, unless it’s being compared to “Parks and Recreation,” which is just as brilliant. Aaaaaanyway…

“New Year’s Eve” finds the Brinkleys embracing their older, more parental selves by spending the overrated holiday at home. They decide to make it a small couples’ gathering by inviting Ava and Kevin, and Missy and Isaac, the impossibly gorgeous and perfect guy she met on JDate. When Chris suggests, “We’re in prison, so we might as well make it fun,” Reagan takes this as an opportunity to turn couples’ night into game night – a prospect that makes Chris quiver with fear. (Not surprisingly, Reagan is super-competitive and can turn the most enjoyable of games into a miserable experience for all involved.) Unfortunately, his attempts to hide all the games from Reagan fail, as she’s even able to dig up the Rock Band gear he “buried in the back yard.”

While Chris and Reagan fight over all the little things, Kevin is upset about one big thing: he thinks that Ava is ashamed to be seen with him. Turns out, Ava is going to be a star parade attraction (cape, scepter, the whole nine) and didn’t bother to ask Kev to ride along with her. Even though Kevin isn’t “fancy,” he is human, and therefore, would love to be in a parade.  Feeling slighted, all it takes is an innocent request to play Rock Band to make Kevin storm out.

Missy – annoyed by how perfect her new boyfriend is – also leaves, preferring to quietly slink away. As Ava goes off searching for Kevin and Isaac is left in the kitchen to whip up ceviche, Reagan and Chris use their alone time to point out each other’s flaws (e.g., Reagan’s competitiveness and fondness for saying “totes”; Chris’s bad Borat impression and obsessive need to fill up uncomfortable silences with jibber jabber), which they jot down on a whiteboard as things they plan to fix in 2012.

Eventually, Ava catches up with Kevin and tells him that it’s not that she’s embarrassed to be seen with him, but since she has a long list of very public, very Google-able failed relationships, she was wary about taking theirs into the light of day. They make up and return to the party, as does Missy, who is willing to overlook Isaac’s maddening perfection…or maybe she just wants someone to kiss at midnight. As the other couples cozy up together and the new year inches ever closer, Chris and Reagan start erasing the whiteboard and enjoying each other’s company, annoying habits and all. And finally, someone blows up a chicken. 

Grade: B-

Random Thoughts:

• I really wish I could unsee Chris’s former goatee. Creepy.

• I usually name Will Arnett as the star of the show, but I’ve got to give this one to Christina Applegate. She was pitch perfect as the irritating broad who takes games way too seriously.

• I also usually get a kick out of the band name-dropping that’s continuously creating the bread crumb trail leading back to Chris’s terrible taste in music. However, Reagan didn’t need to bring Better Than Ezra into this. That hits a little too close to home for me. FRICTION, BABY!!

• Best Quotes:
Chris (upon discovering that Isaac is British): “Got a double decker bus in the chunnel!”

Chris: “Way to draw a parallel, Kev!”

Kevin: “Are you taking this relationship seriously or am I just a fetish for you? Some handyman boy-toy? A ‘One Day at a Time’ sex Schneider?”