Critical Condition: Abby’s

Abby’s | Lightbox, from Thursday

☆☆☆ “’Abby’s is filmed in front of a live outdoor audience,’ co-star Neil Flynn says at the start of each episode of this charming new NBC comedy about an unlicensed bar run by the title character (Natalie Morales) in her backyard. The announcement signals the DNA of the series: a hybrid of old-school and new-school sitcom aesthetics … It’s not a wildly funny show but the jokes feel less important than the chance to spend time each week in the company of some appealing goofballs. ” — Rolling Stone.

☆☆☆ “This isn’t to say that live studio audiences or three-camera setups are inherently bad, or make for simple comedies. It is an odd format in an age where most people ingest and process information at the speed of Bachelor Twitter, but as One Day At A Time proved, there’s tons of room for character growth, exploration of Important Issues of the Day, and a good old-fashioned punchline with studio applause … I’d bet good money that Abby’s has the comedic chops and chemistry to pull it off.” — TV Guide.

☆☆☆ “As with all new multi-camera sitcoms, you can practically taste the canned laughter at first; and the fact that it is happening in the open air makes the laughter sound even more artificial, which has the strange effect of making the show seem less funny than it is. This, too, will pass, or at least you will no longer notice it. I am telling you to stick around.” — Los Angeles Times.

☆☆☆ “Early wobbliness aside, Abby’s is not a show to dismiss. There is so much potential in its creators and cast, and even though its experiment doesn’t seem to have come together quite yet, there is a well-established history of comedies like this that have taken some time to find themselves. The legacy of Cheers will not be harmed by a new group of people moving in and rearranging all the furniture.” — New York.

☆☆ “I didn’t laugh even once; instead, I cringed over and over at the bland repartee and the way each character has one primary quality, which he or she telegraphs to us at every chance.” — Boston Globe.

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