Abby’s (S01E01) “Pilot”
Last week NBC added another show to its lineup: Abby’s. Produced by Michael Schur (who else…?) and created by New Girl writer Josh Malmuth, this new show takes place in a bar. If you know me a little, you know that I like anything that involves having a drink and hanging out. So this show should be a perfect fit.
The show is about Abby (Natalie Morales), an army vet who runs a bar from her backyard: Abby’s. However, it’s not just any bar. There are tons of rules, 162 to be exact, including “all tacos are group tacos” and “no phones allowed”. There’s also a very elaborate and long process to get yourself a place at the bar.
But when Abby’s new, disapproving landlord Bill (Nelson Franklin) shows up, she has to do everything in her power to keep the bar open. Where Bill’s arrival seems threatening at first, the show quickly moves away from him being the enemy and shows his side of the story. Bill is still not over his recent divorce and finding out that someone is running an illegal bar on his property doesn’t make him feel better either.
Eventually Bill starts to talk to the bar regulars, which gives us a chance to get to know them a bit better as well. There’s Beth (Jessica Chaffin), the next-door neighbor and mom who likes to unwind at the bar with a beer. Then we have Fred (Neil Flynn), Abby’s first customer who’s known her since she was a kid. But the bar isn’t complete without bartender Rosie (Kimia Behpoornia) and bouncer James (Leonard Ouzts).
As I mentioned already, the threat of Bill and his wish to close down Abby’s goes away quickly when Abby shows she’s willing to compromise. Who knew it would be as easy as making a Mai Tai?
I really wanted to like this show, but didn’t give it much of a chance. But I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. The pilot episode wasn’t great, but it was much better than I expected it to be. The episode had some funny scenes and good lines. Especially Natalie Morales’ dry delivery made me laugh quite a few times.
I think Morales’ character Abby can be very interesting as long as she has some good character development. We’ve heard a bit about her, with her history of being in the marines and her alcoholic dad, but there’s still plenty to explore there. I hope the show gets the chance to tell us more about her background story.
Also, as a person still grieving about The Middle ending almost a year ago (almost a year, can you believe it??), it is very nice to see Neil Flynn back on TV as a different character. Although I guess the drinking, the plaid and the stoic behavior reminded me a bit of Mike Heck. After being a regular on two long running TV shows, Flynn knows what he’s doing.
Both Morales and Flynn are strong in the show’s first episode, but Nelson Franklin also brings his nerdy charm to the screen. The three actors are definitely carrying the show in this first episode. But since we haven’t seen much of the other characters yet, there’s still a lot of room for the rest of the cast to show us what they can do.
Abby’s is filmed in front of a live outdoor audience. This doesn’t only give the show a unique vibe, it also makes the backyard setting of the bar feel real. I think this is what gives the show its own special thing that makes it standout from other new comedies. The question is, will it be enough for the show to survive? I think it might. As long as NBC and the viewers give the writers enough time to develop episodes with balanced characters, well thought out storylines and more solid jokes.
The first episode of Abby’s didn’t give us a groundbreaking show, but it does have its own charm. It’s just a nice place to hangout on Thursday night. Just like the bar, some changes have to be made to make things work. But Abby’s has enough potential to become a great TV show.
The second episode of Abby’s airs tomorrow, Thursday April 4th, 9:30/8:30c on NBC. You can watch the pilot episode via the NBC App, Hulu and iTunes!