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.

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