I’ve already babbled about “Bob (Hearts) Abishola,” the season’s best new situation comedy.
But now is a handy time to catch up: In a 10-day stretch, you can see three key reruns. The pilot film is 9:30 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 21); others are 8:30 p.m. Dec. 25 and 30.
What you’ll see is a show with a unique style and pace. It’s not like other sitcoms – including other gems (“Big Bang,” “Mom”) from the same producer, Chuck Lorre; for that, we’ll credit Gina Yashere (shown here).
Lorre wanted a nod to hard-working immigrants. As he leaned toward a Nigerian character, he realized he was out of his field. Fortunately, he found Yashere, an English comedian whose parents emigrated from Nigeria.
Yashere became a produer, a writer and a supporting character. She plays Kemi, who (like her friend Abishola) is a nurse and a Nigerian native.
Some humor is neatly patterned to a specific accent. We’ve seen that in the past with characters ranging from Boston to the Deep South, from England to Russia. And we see it here.
The Nigerian characters have a matter-of-fact way of talking. Even the name “Bob” has a different feel. When they’re given droll dialog, the humor works and the characters become instantly likable.
There are four main Nigerians here – Abishola, the aunt and uncle she lives with, and Kemi. We also briefly see her son (a nice kid who makes her breakfast) and the handsome-but-boring pharmacist (also shown here) some people want her to date.
On the flip side is Bob, a sock manufacturer from Detroit. Standard sitcoms would have him be her opposite – high-energy and fast-talking. But here he’s played quietly by Billy Gardell. Two understated cultures – Nigerian and Midwestern – mesh neatly.
The only nod to standard sitcoms is in his family, all part of the sock company. There’s a ne’er-do-well brother, a rarely-do-well sister and a sometimes-bossy mom, Dottie. Even those characters, however, were improved by a terrific episode Monday (Dec. 16); for now, catch the reruns:
Saturday (Dec. 21): The pilot. Bob’s a heart-attack patient who falls for his nurse.
Dec. 25: They finally have their first date … interrupted with news of Dottie’s health emergency.
Dec. 30: As Dottie remains ill, her kids are overwhelmed. Abishola, already working full-time at the hospital, helps them part-time.
On Monday, we found that Dottie is sharper than expected. She told each kid that she was designating him or her to run the company after she dies … if they shaped up and if they didn’t tell the others.
It was a clever touch, shoring up the only weak portion of a dandy show. We look forward to what’s coming when new episodes arrive, starting Jan. 6. First, please sample those reruns.