Thursday, March 28, 2019

NBC Mid-Season Pilot Review: Abby's - Premieres Tonight (March 28); Fox 2019 Finales and Summer 2019 Premieres

Abby's



Abby's - Thursdays at 9:30PM ET/PT on NBC
Premieres Thursday, March 28, 2019 at 9:30PM ET/PT


by Todd

From Michael Schur (The Good Place, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Parks and Recreation and Master of None) and Josh Malmuth (New Girl, Superstore) comes a hilarious new comedy about the best neighborhood bar in San Diego –– home to low prices, good company and, of course, Abby (Natalie Morales, BoJack Horseman, Girls, Parks and Recreation).

This unlicensed, makeshift establishment in Abby’s backyard is the perfect gathering place for locals to find camaraderie and sanctuary. To maintain the perfect bar ecosystem, all patrons must abide by a specific set of rules. This includes no cell phones (not even to look something up), understanding that earning a seat at the bar takes time to rise through the hierarchy and knowing that losing a challenge may have some unpleasant and unpalatable drink-related repercussions.

As bar owner, Abby has found her true calling, hosting friends and newcomers alike. No nonsense, Abby is ex-military, having served two tours as a Staff Sergeant in the Marines. Her world is shaken when new landlord Bill (Nelson Franklin, black-ish, Veep, New Girl), who recently inherited the house from his deceased aunt, unexpectedly shows up citing all kinds of reasons why the whole venture is illegal. Newly divorced, he is a cautious worrier and definite non-risk-taker who eventually warms to the place and agrees to let the bar remain open, provided Abby makes some changes.

The cast of regulars also includes Fred (Neil Flynn, The Middle, Scrubs), a fixture at the bar who is grateful for a place to enjoy a beer and conversation – and refuses to allow some bureaucratic busybody to disrupt his perfect refuge; Beth (Jessica Chaffin, Big Mouth, Search Party, Pitch Perfect 3), a harried mom living next door who can escape the madness of her home life while still keeping an eye on things from her perch atop a bar stool; Rosie (Kimia Behpoornia, Unicorn Store, Pop Rox), the bar manager who prides herself on having memorized all 162 rules and regulations; and James (Leonard Ouzts, Set It Up, Master of None), the gentle scaredy-cat of a bouncer who crumbles in the face of confrontation.

As any regular patron of Abby’s will attest to, hanging out there is a coveted honor. And once you’re in, you’re family.

Cast Details:

Natalie Morales as Abby
Neil Flynn as Fred
Nelson Franklin as Bill
Jessica Chaffin as Beth
Leonard Ouzts as James
Kimia Behpoornia as Rosie


Natalie Morales (Abby) starred as Claire Lacoste in the Fox comedy The Grinder. She had a recurring role as Lucy in Parks and Recreation. Some of her other credits include Santa Clarita Diet, Girls and Trophy Wife. She starred in the first season of White Collar.

Neil Flynn (Fred) is best known for his roles as Janitor in Scrubs and Mike Heck in The Middle. Some of his sitcom guest appearances include Seinfeld, The Drew Carey Show, Ellen, That '70s Sho Show, Norm, Joey, My Boys, Surviving Jack and Undateable.

Nelson Franklin (Bill) starred as Adam in the CBS sitcom The Millers. He starred in the short-lived Fox comedy Traffic Light. He's had recurring roles in black-ish, New Girl, Veep and The Office.

Jessica Chaffin (Beth) appeared as Marie Faldonado in the CBS sitcom Man with a Plan. She had a recurring role as Coco Wexler on Nickelodeon's Zoey 101. Some of her sitcom guest appearances include Search Party, Veep, Episodes, New Girl and 2 Broke Girls.

Leonard Ouzts (James) is a stand-up comedian who has made guest appearances in Master of None. His film credits include Set It Up and Like Father.

Kimia Behpoornia (Rosie) has made guest appearances in Adam Ruins Everything, After Hours, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Modern Family and Station 19.

Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" (Airs March 28 at 9:30PM ET)

Abby's (Natalie Morales) unlicensed backyard bar hits a major snag when new landlord Bill (Nelson Franklin), who recently inherited the house from his deceased aunt, shows up and proposes major changes.

Analysis:

Abby's is a multi-camera sitcom produced by Universal Television, Fremulon, Waila Inc. and 3 Arts Entertainment. The series is created by Josh Malmuth. The producers include Malmuth, Michael Schur, David Miner and Pamela Fryman. The "Pilot" episode is written by Josh Malmuth and directed by Pamela Fryman. Ten episodes have been ordered.

In the "Pilot" episode, we meet Abby, her co-workers and some of the regular bar patrons. Abby gives Fred a drink and calls him the Cal Ripken, Jr. of low grade alcohol. Fred wants to be compensated with free drinks. They discuss the pros and cons of keeping a dart board. Fred fact checks Abby that darts are British. Fred agrees to the challenge, but must accept a sugary, disgusting lime not beer when he loses the bet. Bill walks in and asks for Abby. He is Abby's new landlord since his Aunt Alice has passed away. Bill is told there is a vetting process before customers are able to take a seat the bar. Bill says the bar needs to be shut down. Abby gives him a tour of the bar. She tells him that it's more than a bar and that it's a community center. Bill tries to document everything, but Abby kicks away his phone. The gang talks about Abby's past. They show the 162 rules and regulations the bar has, including no cell phones. Abby begs Bill to keep the bar open. Bill suggests some changes to get a liquor license, have an emergency plan, get some business insurance and lose the grill. Fred, Beth and Rosie go inside Abby's house and tell her they need the bar. Abby tells Bill they will make some changes to keep the bar open.

Overall, the "Pilot" episode is fast paced and well produced. There are many funny one-liners from all of the characters. It provides a good introduction to the characters. More of the characters personal lives will be explored in future episodes. They have assembled a talented cast. There's a good mix of comedy veterans and relative newcomers. The cast already has some good chemistry in the first few episodes. It should be easy for them bring in good guest stars for future episodes. Since the show is set in San Diego, maybe the Padres new star Manny Machado will make an appearance.

One of the unique aspects of the series is that it's filmed completely outdoors in front of a live studio audience. This is a regular occurrence with many single-camera series these days with no audience, but it's the first time that it's been done for a multi-camera comedy. They did an excellent job with designing the backyard bar set. It looks like a real bar with the attention to detail and the strung up lights. The bulk of scenes are on the bar set, but they also show the kitchen inside Abby's house. I like how they show overhead shots of the bar set with the studio audience in bleachers during some of the transitions. One minor complaint is the near constant music in the background. It adds to the authenticity of the setting at a bar, but it makes the dialogue a little difficult to hear at times. There's a lot happening with audio when you add in the audience laughter.



Conclusion:

Abby's has the potential and ingredients to be a solid hit. The producers have a great track record with their other sitcoms. They have put together a strong and likable cast. Natalie Morales is very charming and funny as Abby in her first lead role. The always funny and reliable Neil Flynn makes a welcome return to NBC where he starred in Scrubs. The rest of the supporting cast is a nice mix of comedy veterans and newcomers who seem to enjoy working together. The writing is very funny with many rapid fire jokes. It's always nice to see another traditional multi-camera sitcom on the air, but this one has a fresh idea with it being shot outdoors in front of a live studio audience. I think we'll see others filmed outdoors if it has any success. Abby's is basically an outdoors version of Cheers, but that's not a bad thing. It serves up some good, clean laughs. It should fit in well with the rest of the NBC Thursday night comedies.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 3.5/5
Funniness: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Thursday, March 28, 2019 at 9:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • NBC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Abby's Photo Gallery

    Preview:





  • Fox

    Fox is announcing summer premiere dates for returning series Beat Shazam, MasterChef and So You Think You Can Dance, as well as for new series Spin the Wheel. Air dates for Paradise Hotel and Miss USA® were previously announced. Beat Shazam keeps the jams coming with the Season Three premiere Monday, May 20 at 8:00PM ET/PT. Celebrating its milestone 10th season, MasterChef will air two nights per week, kicking off Wednesday, May 29 at 8:00 PM ET/PT and joining the Thursday lineup on Thursday, June 20 at 8:00 PM ET/PT. Hosted by Cat Deeley, the Emmy Award-winning So You Think You Can Dance returns with an all-new season on Monday, June 10 at 9:00PM ET/PT.

    Brand-new high-stakes game show Spin the Wheel will debut Thursday, June 20 at 9:00 PM ET/P), following MasterChef's time-period premiere on the night. Executive-produced by four-time Emmy Award-winning actor and 10-time Grammy Award-winning musician Justin Timberlake, and hosted by actor, director, writer and comedian Dax Shepard, the show offers life-changing opportunities to win fortunes each episode with the spin of a massive, unpredictable wheel.

    Fox in-season finales include: Gotham (Thursday, April 25, 8:00 PM ET/PT); The Orville (Thursday, April 25, 9:00PM ET/PT); The Resident (Monday, May 6, 8:00PM ET/PT); Empire (Wednesday, May 8, 8:00PM ET/PT); Star (Wednesday, May 8, 9:00 PM ET/PT); Last Man Standing (Friday, May 10, 8:00 PM ET/PT); The Cool Kids (Friday, May 10, 8:30 PM ET/PT); Proven Innocent (Friday, May 10, 9:00 PM ET/PT); The Simpsons (Sunday, May 12, 8:00PM ET/PT); Bob's Burgers (Sunday, May 12, 8:30PM ET/PT); Family Guy (Sunday, May 12, 9:00PM ET/PT); 9-1-1, at a special time (Monday, May 13, 8:00PM ET/PT); Mental Samurai (Tuesday, May 21, 9:00PM ET/PT); and MasterChef Junior, in a special two-hour episode (Tuesday, June 4, 8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT).


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Thursday, May 26

    Young Sheldon - "The Grand Chancellor and a Den of Sin" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    Sheldon battles President Hagemeyer’s (Wendie Malick) mysterious boss over the university’s science requirements. Also, Mary discovers that Georgie is working at Meemaw’s illegal gambling room.

    United States of Al - "College / Pohantoon" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    When Al struggles with the college class he is taking, Riley takes it upon himself to speak to his professor. Also, Art’s confidence is shaken when he learns Lois (Rachel Bay Jones) used to be married to a professional football star.

    Ghosts - "Ghostwriter" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    When Sasappis offers to help Sam complete the B&B website so they can start taking reservations, they butt heads over the creative direction. Also, Pete bonds with Jay over basketball until Jay makes a new living friend, and Flower attempts to be Pete’s new basketball buddy. Gregory Zaragoza, father of series regular Rom├ín Zaragoza, guest stars as Sasappis’ father, Naxasi.

    B Positive - "" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)

    A therapist and newly divorced dad is looking for a kidney donor when he runs into a rough-around-the-edges woman from his past who offers her own kidney.

    Welcome to Flatch - "Pyramid Schemme" / "Merry Flatchmas" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    Kelly accidentally gets involved in a green juice pyramid scheme; Father Joe helps Shrub get into college; Kelly's father puts her in charge of the Flatch Christmas celebration, and disaster ensues.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of May 23)

    Thursday, May 26

    • Rose Byrne (Physical) - Catch Rose on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Jon Hamm (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) - Jon appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He will also be on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
    • Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine/Are We There Yet?/Everybody Hates Chris) - Terry is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • June Diane Raphael (Grace and Frankie/New Girl/Burning Love/Players) - June will be on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Glen Powell (Scream Queens) - Glen appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Jennifer Aniston (Friends/Muddling Through/Ferris Bueller/Molloy) - Jennifer is a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
    • Sherri Shepherd (Mr. Iglesias/Trial & Error/Sherri/Less Than Perfect/Suddenly Susan) - Sherri guest hosts The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
    • Jenna Fischer (The Office/Splitting Up Together) and Angela Kinsey (The Office/The Hotwives of Orlando) - Jenna and Angela talk about their new book, The Office BFFs: Tales of The Office from Two Best Friends Who Were There, on People in 10 at 8am.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (February-May)

    ALT= Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (2022 Release) Brooklyn Nine-Nine - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Head of the Class - The Complete Fourth Season Becker - The Complete Series (2022 Release)

    02/08 - Last Man Standing - The Complete Ninth Season
    02/22 - Everybody Hates Chris - The Complete Series (2022 Release)
    02/22 - Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (2022 Release)
    03/08 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Eight
    03/08 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) (DVD)
    03/15 - Head of the Class - The Complete Fourth Season
    03/15 - The Proud Family - The Complete Original Series - Anniversary Collection
    03/22 - The Honeymooners Specials - The Complete Collection
    03/29 - Rick and Morty - The Complete Seasons 1-5 (Blu-ray) (DVD)
    03/29 - Young Rock - Season One
    04/05 - Up All Night - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
    04/26 - The Danny Thomas Show (aka Make Room for Daddy) - The Complete Fourth Season
    04/26 - Jackie Gleason TV Treasures - 70th Anniversary Collection (including Honeymooners Rarities)
    05/03 - No Activity - Season Three
    05/31 - Becker - The Complete Series (2022 Release)
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

    05/26 - Seinfeld Joins Nick at Nite on Memorial Day; New Netflix Series Tops Weekly Chart
    05/25 - Black Comedy Revolution Doc to Air on A&E; MTV Movie & TV Awards to Air on Multiple Nets
    05/24 - Abbott Elementary Star to Host ABC Game Show; Amazon Orders The Hospital
    05/23 - Seth MacFarlane's Peacock Comedy Series Ted Rounds Out Cast; Twisted Metal Comedy Series in the Works
    05/22 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 23, 2022)
    05/21 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Fall Broadcast Network Lineups Out; The CW Looking to Get Back Into Sitcom Business
    05/20 - HBO Renews Barry for Season 4; Apple TV+ Comedy Trying Returns in July; Remembering Maggie Peterson of The Andy Griffith Show
    05/19 - The CW Upfront 2022-23: Fall 2022 Schedule; Rick and Morty Returns as Anime on Adult Swim
    05/18 - CBS Upfront 2022-23: Fall 2022 Schedule; Turner Upfront Updates
    05/17 - ABC Upfront 2022-23: Fall 2022 Schedule; Pete Davidson Comedy Adds Edie Falco
    05/16 - NBC Upfront 2022-23: Fall 2022 Schedule; Fox Upfront 2022-23: Call Me Kat and Welcome to Flatch Renewed, Adds Two New Animated Comedies and Three New Dramas
    05/15 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 16, 2022)
    05/14 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Looking at Fall Renewals and Cancellations; Married... with Children Animated Reboot in the Works
    05/13 - NBC Renews 3 Sitcoms, Cancels 2; CBS and The CW Hand Out Orders & Pink Slips; Remembering Mike Hagerty and Sitcom Producer/Writer George Yanok
    05/12 - NBC Orders Lopez vs. Lopez Sitcom for 2022-23 Season; Amazon Renews Upload for Season 3
    05/11 - Disney's Bunk'd Returns June 10 for Season 6; Paramount+ to Be Exclusive SVOD Home of Ghosts
    05/10 - MeTV Network Adds The A-Team for The Summer of Me; HBO Max Renews Two Comedies for Season 2
    05/09 - Never Have I Ever Season 3 Premieres August 12; Netflix's The Upshaws Return in June
    05/08 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 9, 2022)
    05/07 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Saved by the Bell Reboot Canceled; Quantum Leap Reboot Picked Up at NBC
    05/06 - Hulu Comedy Maggie Gets Premiere Date; Chad Returns July 11 on TBS, While HBO Max Series Get Second Runs on TBS and TNT; Remembering David Birney of Bridget Loves Bernie
    05/05 - Freeform Summer 2022 Schedule; The Waltons Return to The CW This Holiday Season
    05/04 - Netflix Orders No Good Deed, from Dead to Me Creator; Cristela Alonzo Returns for New Comedy Special
    05/03 - That '70s Show Cast to Reunite on That '90s Show; Teri Hatcher and James Denton Reunite Again
    05/02 - Antenna TV's Always Mother's Day Marathon; The Real Celebrates Mother's Day with Classic TV Guests
    05/01 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 2, 2022)
    04/30 - SitcomsOnline Digest: The Conners Close to Season Five Renewal; James Corden Leaving The Late Late Show
    04/29 - Fri-Yay: Netflix's Struggles Create Question for the Future of Television; Hulu Acquires Schitt's Creek
    04/28 - Starz Comedy Run the World Returns with More Stars; HBO Max Orders Spin-off of Harley Quinn Animated Comedy Series
    04/27 - Freeform Orders Single Drunk Female Season 2 & New Series While You Were Breeding; Peacock Brings Back Wolf Like Me
    04/26 - The Orville Returns for Season 3 After 3 Year Hiatus; Fox Announces More Stars for Fantasy Island Season 2