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TV Review: 'Abbott Elementary' Season 3 premiere deserves straight A's

ABC's award-winning sitcom "Abbott Elementary" is back for a third season with a one-hour "supersized" season premiere. Golden Globe winner and creator of the show, Quinta Brunson, returns alongside the ensemble of Abbott teachers for a new school year. Following the strike, the season's opener presents prosperity and an optimistic path for a well-rounded new season.

The first two episodes of the season were titled "Career Day," setting the stage for the first career day at the fictional Philadelphia school, William R. Abbott Elementary. The idea was, of course, Janine Teagues' (Quinta Brunson) idea, which aimed to inspire the Abbott students to dream big.  

The episodes go back and forth over a five-month period. The first period ties up some loose ends from the second season's conclusion, all the while untying other knots for this season's plotlines. Then, the second period brings it back to the beginning of the new school year, along with brand-new camera equipment. The time jump is partially for plot setup, but at the same time, the show takes a hilarious twist with it.  

The highly ambitious Janine returns to the school with a concerning lack of ambition. Her plot line involves her taking a step away from teaching and taking a job with the school district. She does this to finally bring an optimistic change to the schools in the area, but doing so stirs up a bit of drama. Apart from her big job change, Janine has also returned with a strange habit of cursing.  

Ava Coleman (Janelle James), back from her unconvincing summer experience at Harvard University, becomes a more disciplined principal. Though her demeanor changes, her decisions are still irreverent and outlandish. Her new manner does not stay for long, thanks to the dedication of the faculty in trying to make her the typical slacker she is known to be.

Sheryl Lee Ralph's character, Barbara Howard, continues to develop as well, as her tough, experienced teacher spirit is starting to soften. Still loveable all around, her character is beginning to show other sides of herself. 

The camera-glancing Gregory Eddie (Tyler James Williams) comes back looking more "fine" or "foin," as Melissa Schemmenti (Lisa Ann Walter) puts it. His fresh appearance is continually noticed throughout the premiere, as Ava calls him "Jeremy Allen Black." Gregory got less attention for his own character arc than others, but he remains crucial in other aspects of the episodes, including his relationship with Janine. 

At the end of Season 2, Janine and Gregory's will-they-won't-they relationship ends with them deciding to just be friends. Straight away, their complex connection carries on, with the episode dedicating some time to a situation that happened over the summer break. 

While some characters are growing, others are not. This includes the resilient Melissa Schemmenti, who is asked a huge, monumental question in the season premiere. The lead-up to her answer is adequately staggering, but the decision she makes remains true to her character's personality. 

The scene-stealing janitor, Mr. Johnson (William Stanford Davis), proceeds to surprise the audience with more of his unbelievable lore and background. Both Mr. Johnson and Chris Perfetti's character, Jacob Hill, were unfortunately put on the back burner in this season’s premiere. However, the two seem to have a growing connection that could be an interesting storyline down the road. 

Some new faces join this season's ensemble cast, including Josh Segarra, Kimia Behpoornia and Benjamin Norris. The three additions portray members of the school district, trying to help improve Abbott classrooms with equipment like iPads and Smartboards. After consistently displaying the classroom struggles Abbott is having, the school is beginning to get the proper resources it deserves.

Other faces popped up toward the end of the hour, faces that were shocking to see. Though they were just there for a quick cameo, they were a blessing to watch nonetheless. Without spoiling the surprise guests, it is safe to say their appearances made the utmost sense for the show for a plethora of reasons. All in all, the cameos show that "Abbott Elementary" is visibly becoming a more successful television show. 

Now that the show has two seasons under its belt, it has ample space to grow more complex, season-long plotlines. The first two episodes show several potential directions to go with, each one provoking. 

Overall, these season-openers offered a balance of moments both hilarious and heartfelt. The loveable feel of the show is still there, with just a bit of added momentum to allow more growth to be made. In every aspect shown in the first two episodes, "Career Day" earns straight A's across the board, setting the tone for the rest of the show's highly anticipated third season. 


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