A single woman deals with the job of her dreams and an ex-boyfriend from hell in UPN’s “Abby.” Potentially sassy and smart, series will hopefully become something more than the innuendo fest it’s pilot suggests, since solid perfs by Sydney Tamiia Poitier (daughter of the Oscar-winning thesp) and Kadeem Hardison are the major selling points. And right now, UPN needs all the selling points it can get.
Poitier plays the title character, a San Francisco producer for a semi-hit show called “The West Coast Sports Report.” Anchored by the sweet, dweebish Max (Randy J. Goodwin), the “SportsCenter” knockoff is Abby’s first big gig, and she can’t wait to share the moment, along with a small afterparty, with her charming beau, Will (Hardison).
Undeniably self-absorbed, Will arrives late, misses everything and also forgets to buy his sweetie an anniversary present days later. Thinking of a perfect remedy, he decides to propose instead, hoping she’ll forgive his trail of sins and jump into his arms.
She doesn’t, and instead of moving apart, they try to remain cordial roommates (they both love the rent-controlled apartment and can’t really stand the sight of each other leaving for good). While Will ventures back and forth between handling the breakup and feeling jealous, Abby’s goal is to get on with her life, which is complicated by Max, who is falling in love with her.
A real natural, Poitier, who had a shot on NBC’s “First Years,” carries the load here, reacting with proper nuance and appropriate tones to males who come from various macho molds. Tall and beautiful, she has a knack for physical comedy as well as the indefinable trait required to bridge a laffer from one laugh to the next without overdoing it.
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.
“Abby” gets a 9:30 run tonight and Wednesday before moving to 9 p.m. for good Tuesdays.