'Abby' To Debut On UPN Tonight

By Antony
January 6, 2003 - 11:39 PM

'Abby' cast photo -  copyright UPN UPN's new comedy series Abby premieres tonight, before settling into its new Tuesday timeslot as a companion to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The show stars Sydney Tamiia Poitier as the titular Abby Walker, a young professional TV producer for a programme called West Coast Sports Report. She is in the unique position of being "one of the few women in the testosterone-laden world of sports broadcasting," according to the UPN web site. Joining Abby are: Max (Randy J. Goodwin), her co-anchor and secret admirer; Roger (Sean O'Bryan), her eccentic boss; and Jo (Tangie Ambrose), her flirtatious sister.

Once settled in its Tuesday slot at 9p.m., Abby will be the replacement for the short-lived Haunted, the failed attempt to replace the underperforming Roswell. With two genre shows not working in the spot, UPN is taking a different tact with Abby. It will be the first time that a genre show hasn't aired there in over two years.

Reviewers don't seem overly impressed with the new addition, however. "Pleasant but not funny," is how Robert Bianco for USA Today sees the show. "There's little in Abby that could give offense, and if that's all you want from a sitcom, you might be pleased. Unfortunately, there's also virtually nothing that could provide amusement, not a single funny line nor a single convincing characterization." Bianco believes UPN is showing a pattern. "It's as if UPN thinks no comedy with black actors can be complete without someone talking about 'getting some.' The truth, as UPN might someday learn, is that no comedy is complete without comedy. It would be nice if shows like Abby would figure that out."

Michael Speier writing for Variety shares similar thoughts. "What doesn't work -- and it's becoming a resounding criticism of UPN -- is its reliance on booty humor. In Abby's first episode, there are separate discussions about hot sex, about messy sex and about dirty sex. Considering the appeal of the debut, it may make sense for the producers to step up to the plate and focus on the more intelligent aspects while leaving the vulgarity to someone else." He did have praise for the lead actress though. "A real natural, Poitier [...] carries the load here, reacting with proper nuance and appropriate tones to males who come from various macho molds."

Marc Berman at Mediaweek doesn't give high hopes to it lasting. "Without the benefit of airing in UPN's protected Monday sitcom block, Abby on Tuesday is a long shot at best. Like corporate cousin CBS, airing a comedy outside of Monday generally leads to disaster ... err ... cancellation." He gives the show a 9-1 chance of surviving no Tuesdays.

The first episode, 'The Break Up', sees the end of Abby's relationship with self-centered boyfriend Will. But as he won't leave the apartment, they become roommates. In 'Moving On', friend Roger tries to get Abby and Will back together. It's obviously unsucessful, because in the third episode, 'Abby's First Date', Abby asks a stranger on a date, her first since her breakup with Will.

Abby makes its debut tonight at 9:30p.m. ET/PT. Episode two will air tomorrow at the same time. It will then enter its normal time slot of Tuesdays at 9p.m. ET/PT.

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