Quinta Brunson in “Abbott Elementary” 2021. IMDb [jptp

If, while checking out this new sitcom, you suspect that there’s something familiar about it, you’d be right. Stay tuned.

The players, starting with the star and show’s creator, the bubbly 32-year-old writer-creator Quinta Brunson, and the fast-moving cast that percolates around her, invite you into West Philadelphia’s Abbott Elementary, a comic oasis of learning in an all-black world. Well, almost all black.

Be prepared for chaos, dedication, love in bloom, and all that comes with teaching. But most of all, what drew me in and will grab you as well, is the energy — the first-time excitement all the players felt and emitted in bursts of discovery, of each other, of the material and just having a job: a good job that has the potential of being something more than just a sitcom.

The cast, each perfectly formed, go about their daily chores teaching the kids in Abbott’s all-black, tiny population.

Then it dawned on me. They make eye contact with us, all of them, even the new sub, on punch lines or shock moments. Bring your own laughs, there is no laugh track. This is it, live energy.

It’s a smart move, because the moment we enter the school’s front door, we are wary of sitting through another new show, just to have a column.

We felt comfortable, and that’s good, right?


So we sit there in our living rooms, pausing for a moment, remote in hand, ready to give this new crowd in town a chance.

We feel comfortable, because Brunson wisely hired Randall Einhorn, the sitcom director who took that great cast through “The Office” through nine successful seasons.

I watched the first 22-minute segment (they’re all 22-minutes long, with a few commercial breaks) and spent the next 22 looking for something new to write about.

Mid-show, I came back to Quinta and her gang, the screwball collection of inner-city teachers. Here they all are: Janine Teagues (Quinta Brunson); the hyper show-biz principal Ava Coleman (Janelle James); substitute teacher Gregory Eddie (Tyler James Williams); Melissa Schemmenti (Lisa Ann Walter); Barbara Howard (Sheryl Lee Ralph); Jacob Hill (Chris Perfetti); Superintendent Denzel Collins (Reginald C. Hayes); and the wise-cracking janitor Tariq Temple (Zach Fox).

The student body, miniature cuties, are all non-pros, but as kids always do, especially when they’ve passed weeks of interviews and readings, walk in and touch your heart.

Yeah, some moments are cliché stones, some lines don’t fly. But despite my initial doubts, these guys led by Quinta Bronson begin to connect, reach out and touch me.

As an ex-actor who has been in their moments, I bought it.

Abbott Elementary is available for streaming on the ABC website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch on demand at HBO Max, Amazon, Hulu, Vudu, FuboTV, Google Play, Apple TV and ABC.

J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.

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