'Abby's' EP Reveals How the Comedy Departs From the Traditional Sitcom

Jim Halterman
Preview Justin Lubin/NBC

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name. That sentiment from the Cheers theme song works well for NBC's latest neighborhood bar comedy, Abby's.

The San Diego establishment, named for its no-nonsense ex-Marine owner (Natalie Morales), is also markedly different for being an outside bar, located literally in Abby's yard.

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From spinoffs and reality to comedy and drama.

"I thought that was an interesting starting place for a show," says executive producer Josh Malmuth. The watering hole is also unlicensed, so conflict comes quick from new by-the-book landlord Bill (Nelson Franklin), who isn't thrilled about the illegal spot frequented by such patrons as beer-swilling Fred (Neil Flynn) and married mom Beth (Jessica Chaffin).

(Credit: Chris Haston/NBC)

The show is a departure from traditional sitcoms in that it's filmed in an actual outdoor space on the Universal Studios lot (the backyard of Nicollette Sheridan's Desperate Housewives house).

What's more, cameras situated on cranes occasionally pan to show the live audience cracking up at the characters' antics. "When they're laughing," says Malmuth, "you're not like, 'What is this disembodied sound?'"

Abby’s, Series Premiere, Thursday, March 28, 9:30/8:30c, NBC