Thursday, March 28, 2019

REVIEW: 'Abby's' - Abby Pushes Back Against the Changes Her New Landlord Wants to Make to Her Bar in 'Pilot'

NBC's Abby's - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

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

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of NBC's Abby's.

"Pilot" was written by Josh Malmuth and directed by Pamela Fryman

This premiere is mostly just interested in setting up the basic character traits of the ensemble and the reasons why they assemble every night at this backyard bar. It has a lot of exposition it needs to get out of the way first. However, it does allow some personality to shine through as well. The opening scene of Bill challenging Abby over whether darts was invited in England and the punishment for him being wrong was very specific and shows this world can be a lot of fun. The main story just deals with the idea that the unlicensed bar could be shutting down after new landlord Bill learns about what Abby has been doing. It's a threat that doesn't carry too much weight to it. Again, this premiere is setting up the premise by suggesting that it will all disappear afterwards. That never makes sense but is also a consistent structuring device for pilots in order to make the audience care about their specific plot setups. Here, Bill sees it all as illegal and doesn't want any of it to get him into jeopardy with the law. This is the property left to him after his aunt passed away. Abby didn't even know her old landlord at all. She was just always prompt with the rent checks. She has always had the freedom to do whatever she wants. This is a space that she has created for herself in order to cope with the world. There are many very specific rules. And yet, that has created a space that allows her to actually enjoy what she does. Her patrons love this environment as well. It's a place where they can go to and relax without feeling like they are succumbing to the corporatization of the world. This is just the friendly neighborhood hangout spot that allows them to deal with all of their problems through drinking and having casual fun with the other people who need a space like this. Abby is making a profit. It's enough for her to commit completely to the bar while also maintaining the respect she deserves. She doesn't like it when people look to her as the veteran who has protected the country. She wants this bar to be her identity. She doesn't know what she would do if it were to shut down. She is an inherently private person as well. Not even her closest friends have been inside her house. So, there is the fundamental understanding that these people care about each other but only to a certain extent. They spend some time together each day. And yet, they have lives outside of this bar. Of course, Abby doesn't know how to react in a healthy way when Bill comes in with these legitimate concerns. He wants her to have a license to serve alcohol, have business insurance and get rid of the grill where people can catch on fire. Those are all reasonable concerns about this space as well. Just because no one has gotten seriously hurt at Abby's so far doesn't mean that will never happen sometime in the future. Bill wants Abby to be smart if they are going to commit to this business together. He is willing to create a partnership with her. He needs this space just as badly as the other regulars. He has had a crappy year of losing his job, getting a divorce and losing all his friends in the process. Plus, he is able to push back in the same way as everyone else. So, he belongs here. He can tease Abby into doing something she doesn't like just to prove a point. It may be a lot of details to deal with here. But there is also the understanding that it is all out of the way now and can just lead to fun interactions amongst the characters moving forward. That would be absolutely delightful because the chemistry is already there amongst the cast.