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 / Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows

    Saturday, July 20

    Mind Your Business - "Choices" (Bounce TV, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    Alfonso must make a major career decision while Lucielle's son comes home with a big confession.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of July 15)

    Friday, July 19

    • Kumail Nanjiani (Only Murders in the Building/Bless the Harts/Silicon Valley) - Kumail guest hosts a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Paul Scheer (Black Monday/Fresh Off the Boat/The League) - Watch Paul on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Joey King (Bent) - Joey appears on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
    • Chris Redd (Kenan/Disjointed) - Chris is a guest on a repeat of After Midnight at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Brooke Shields (Suddenly Susan) and Rachael Harris (Surviving Jack/In the Motherhood/Notes from the Underbelly) - Brooke and Rachael are guests on a repeat of The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Kerry Washington (UnPrisoned) and Delroy Lindo (UnPrisoned) - Kerry and Delroy talk about UnPrisoned on The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray

    Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Too Close for Comfort - The Complete Series Check It Out! - The Complete Series The Jeffersons - The Complete Series (2024 Release) Welcome Back, Kotter - The Complete Series (2024 Release)

    02/13 - Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
    02/27 - The Really Loud House - Season One
    03/12 - Ghosts (UK) - The Complete Series
    03/12 - Looney Tunes Collector's Choice - Volume 3 (Blu-ray)
    03/12 - Rick and Morty - Season 7 (Blu-ray Steelbook) (Blu-ray) (DVD)
    04/03 - Too Close for Comfort - The Complete Series (VEI)
    04/08 - Check It Out! - The Complete Series (VEI)
    05/21 - Frasier (2023) - Season One
    06/11 - The Jeffersons - The Complete Series (2024 Release)
    06/11 - Welcome Back, Kotter - The Complete Series (2024 Release)
    07/05 - Letterkenny - Season 12 (Final Season)
    07/30 - Ted Lasso - The Richmond Way (The Complete Series) (Blu-ray) (DVD)
    09/17 - Bewitched - The Complete Series - 60th Anniversary Special Edition (Blu-ray)
    09/24 - Friends - The Complete Series (4K Ultra HD)
    09/24 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Seventh Season / The Complete Series
    10/08 - Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Complete Twelfth Season / The Complete Series

    More Recent and Upcoming TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

    07/19 - Remembering TV Legend Bob Newhart, TV Bad Girl Shannen Doherty of Beverly Hills, 90210 and Charmed, and Doogie Howser TV Dad James B. Sikking
    07/18 - 76th Primetime Emmy Nominations; Frasier Returns September 19
    07/17 - Fox Fall 2024 Premiere Dates; Apple TV+ Renews Loot for Season 3
    07/16 - Survival of the Thickest Season 2 Adds to Cast; Phil Rosenthal Series Renewed by Netflix
    07/15 - CBS Fall 2024 Premiere Dates; Disney Entertainment Television at San Diego Comic-Con 2024
    07/14 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of July 15, 2024)
    07/13 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Martin Prequel in the Works; Wendie Malick to Star in Season 3 of Night Court
    07/12 - FX Premiere Dates; CBS Studios San Diego Comic-Con Plans
    07/11 - ABC Fall 2024 Premiere Dates; Remembering Doug Sheehan of Day by Day and Clueless and Benji Gregory of ALF
    07/10 - NBC Fall 2024 Premiere Dates; New Paramount+ Series with Billy Bob Thornton
    07/09 - Futurama Trailer Released for Season 12; Will You Help Solve a Mystery? Unsolved Mysteries Volume 4 Drops July 31
    07/08 - Hulu's How to Die Alone Premieres This September; Prime Video's Cross Launches This Fall
    07/07 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of July 8, 2024)
    07/06 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Skydance Media Reportedly Taking Over Paramount; Internet Archive Restores MTV News Archives
    07/05 - Sitcom Stars Pair Up on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire; TV One Premieres Raising Fame
    07/04 - Happy 4th of July; Antenna TV's McHale's Navy Red, White and Navy Independence Day Marathon
    07/03 - Netflix Has Baby Fever Again; More Stars Join Sirens
    07/02 - Cobra Kai's Final Season Begins July 18; Hell Yeah! Kite Man: Hell Yeah! Premieres July 18 on Max
    07/01 - Remembering Martin Mull of Roseanne, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and More; Will Forte Joins Netflix's Upcoming Comedy The Four Seasons
    06/30 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of July 1, 2024)
    06/29 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Nancy O'Dell to Host New Daytime True Crime Series; NBC to Use AI Clips of Al Michaels' Voice for Olympics
    06/28 - Hulu's Hit-Monkey Trailer Drops; Remembering Character Actor Bill Cobbs
    06/27 - New Jersey's North to Shore Festival Brings Out the Stars; ABC's GMA Summer Concert Series 2024
    06/26 - Fox Nation Taps Kelsey Grammer for Docudrama; Hallmark Channel's Kansas City Chiefs Christmas Movie
    06/25 - Watch New Season of The Bear Earlier; NBC's 4th of July Fireworks Special Details
    06/24 - Prime Video Orders Riz Ahmed Comedy; New Trio Join Only Murders for Season 4
    06/23 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of June 24, 2024)
    06/22 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Casting for Everybody Still Hates Chris; Homicide: Life on the Street Headed to Streaming
    06/21 - The CW Fall 2024 Premiere Dates; Jimmy Kimmel Live! Guest Hosts for Summer
    06/20 - Hallmark's Christmas in July Stunt; Starz's Power Book II: Ghost Final Season Premieres Strong
    06/19 - Dark Side of the 90s Returns in July; Resident Alien Moving to USA Network