Tuesday, September 20, 2016

ABC Fall Pilot Review: Speechless - Premieres Wednesday, Sept. 21; Freeform's 25 Days of Christmas Turns 20


Speechless

Speechless - Wednesdays at 8:30PM ET/PT on ABC
Premieres Wednesday, September 21, 2016 at 8:30PM ET/PT


by Pavan

Maya DiMeo is a mom on a mission who will do anything for her husband, Jimmy, and kids Ray, Dylan, and J.J., her eldest son with cerebral palsy. As Maya fights injustices both real and imagined, the family works to make a new home for themselves and searches for just the right person to help give J.J. his "voice."

Cast Details:

Minnie Driver as Maya DiMeo
John Ross Bowie as Jimmy DiMeo
Mason Cook as Ray DiMeo
Micah Fowler as JJ DiMeo
Kyla Kenedy as Dylan DiMeo
Cedric Yarbrough as Kenneth

Minnie Driver (Maya) first came to the attention of audiences and critics alike in 1995 for her critically acclaimed performance in Circle of Friends, in which she starred with Chris O'Donnell. She went on to earn Oscar and Screen Actors Guild nominations, both in the category of Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for Miramax's award-winning feature Good Will Hunting, directed by Gus Van Sant. In 1998 she was honored with ShoWest's prestigious Female Star of Tomorrow for her work. On the small screen, Driver recently starred as Fiona, a needy, highly strung single mom in the charming comedy About a Boy. Driver starred in the television movie Return to Zero, a devastating true story of a couple's attempts to navigate their way through a pregnancy filled with doubt, grief and trepidation. She was nominated for a 2014 Critics' Choice Television Award and a 2014 Primetime Emmy Award on behalf of her performance in the film.

John Ross Bowie (Jimmy) is best known to TV audiences as Barry Kripke on The Big Bang Theory. John has also appeared on Veep, Love, Fresh Off The Boat, Chasing Life, The Wrong Mans, Episodes, House of Lies, Curb Your Enthusiasm, A.U.S.A., two of the CSI series, and as Sven the Singing Seahorse on Sofia the First.

Mason Cook (Ray) has made quite an impact on film and television, most recently receiving a Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series for his guest starring role on the Emmy Award-winning show The Haunting Hour. Cook made his television acting debut as Casey, a cardiac asthmatic patient on ABC's hit drama Grey's Anatomy, at the age of 9. In 2012, he landed the coveted lead role of Eddie Munster in the 2012 critically acclaimed re-imagining of cult television classic The Munsters, called Mockingbird Lane. While promoting the special, Mason made a hilarious appearance as a guest of Ellen. And he played the role of Sean Bean's son in the first season of the hit series Legends. His numerous television appearances include recurring roles on The Middle, Raising Hope and The Goldbergs, as well as memorable guest-starring roles on The Night Shift, Grimm and New Girl. He has also appeared on Desperate Housewives, Criminal Minds, Hot in Cleveland and Victorious. Last year, Cook starred in the original production of If There Be Thorns, the movie adaptation of the third installment in the popular Flowers in the Attic book series.

Micah Fowler (JJ) is thrilled to be part of the amazing cast and crew of Speechless. Micah credits his love for acting to his older sister, Kelsey, who is a veteran Broadway actress. Micah made his television debut on an episode of Blue's Clues when he was nine and later appeared on several episodes of Sesame Street. At age 15, Micah made his feature film debut, playing the role of Barry in Jason Reitman's 2013 movie, Labor Day, opposite Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin.

Kyla Kenedy (Dylan) is most recognizable from her breakout role on the international hit show, Walking Dead in which she played the character Mika throughout season 4 and 5. Kyla most recently filmed the independent feature Love Is All You Need?, opposite Jeremy Sisto and Briana Evigan. Kyla has appeared on Rizzoli & Isles, CSI and The New Normal, for which she was nominated for a young artist award for Best Actress in a Guest Starring Role. Kyla will next be seen in multiple roles on the upcoming Nickelodeon sketch program Mack and Beef. In addition, she just wrapped filming a recurring guest star role on The Night Shift, playing a girl with Cystic Fibrosis.

Cedric Yarbrough (Kenneth) is best known for his revered role of Deputy S. Jones on the hit cable series Reno 911. Cedric has been making people laugh for years, with past television credits for the Minneapolis native include The Goldbergs, Crazy Ex Girlfriend, Ballers and The Soul Man. For years he has appeared on the big screen, including recent feature film The Boss, opposite Melissa McCarthy. Other credits include The 40 Year Old Virgin, Meet the Fockers, Get Smart, Four Christmases and Sundance favorite Black Dynamite.

Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" (airs Wednesday, September 21 at 8:30PM ET/PT)

Maya DiMeo moves her family to a new, upscale school district when she finds the perfect situation for her eldest son, JJ, who has cerebral palsy. While JJ and daughter Dylan are thrilled with the move, middle son Ray is frustrated by the family's tendencies to constantly move, since he feels his needs are second to JJ Soon, Maya realizes it is not the right situation for JJ and attempts to uproot the family again. But JJ connects with Kenneth, the school's groundskeeper, and asks him to step in as a his caregiver, and Ray manages to convince Maya to give the school another chance.

Analysis:

Speechless is a show that fits the ABC comedy brand very well. It's unique and a different take on the family comedy. The show is about the family trying to settle into a "perfect" fit for JJ, who has cerebral palsy. What the family realizes is that nothing is perfect, even if Maya (played well by Minnie Driver) wants it to be. They can keep moving all they want, but there will always be a hurdle, and this family will realize they can overcome anything. What I like about this comedy is they take a sensitive subject and they don't let this turn into a show about a kid with cerebral palsy, they make it about a family just trying to fit in. Everyone in the family has a lot to do in the pilot and they all deliver on laughs. We can learn a thing or two about cerebral palsy of course, too. No matter who race, size, religion, and now disability, the ABC comedies have one thing in common: funny!

As I said earlier, the entire family does pretty well in the pilot. We are sucked into this family right from the start. No real introduction is needed on who is who. Even the people at the new school where the kids attend are funny, especially the groundskeeper Kenneth. He will have a certain bond with JJ it seems. The pace of the show is fast and witty, and I think it will keep this up for future episodes. The cast, especially Minnie and the two boys (Micah and Mason), are standouts in this show. John Ross Bowie is also very good and doesn't need his Elmer Fudd style Big Bang Theory voice on this show to be funny. He really doesn't talk that way in real like folks! I am excited to see what Dylan will do in future episodes, as I think she can be just as good as JJ and Ray. It's a great family.

Conclusion:

Another ABC family comedy success. This will fit like a charm in between The Goldbergs and Modern Family. Back in the early 90s on ABC there was a family drama with a kid with cerebral palsy (the amazing Life Goes On) and that was awesome as well, but now we have a fun family comedy that will show us another dimension. It's got a great timeslot and should do very well, I think. It's probably going to be the highest rated comedy of the season. The Good Place on NBC should do well as well, but it has a tougher task and will have to find an audience, while this show is part of a great comedy brand. So far we have reviewed three comedies, and they are all different and actually pretty good. It's a good start to the new comedy class and this show is perhaps at the top of the class. You may not be able to read JJ's lips, but read my lips (or words in this case), this show delivers and is flat out funny!

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 4.5/5
Funniness: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Wednesday, September 22, 2016 at 8:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • ABC Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Speechless Photo Gallery

    Preview:






  • 25 Days of Christmas

    The summer is coming to a close and Freeform is already getting ready for the merriest time of the year - the network's beloved "25 Days of Christmas" programming event (airing December 1 - 25). While the home of 25 days of holiday-themed programming has a new name, the network still has all of the same jolly movies that Christmas fans love, including Elf, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, The Santa Clause, The Polar Express and much more. So enjoy the beginning of the fall season knowing you are only 100 days from Christmas! And "25 Days of Christmas" is turning 20 this year, as it will be the 20th annual event. Wow. Stay with us soon for more details on programming for this event. The countdown is on!


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (March/April)

    The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Second Season What I Like About You - The Complete Second Season Newhart - The Final (Eighth) Season Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season Father Knows Best - Season Five

    03/03 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - Now... In Living Color! (Blu-ray)
    03/07 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Second Season
    03/07 - Mama's Family - Mama's Favorites
    03/07 - That '70s Show - The Complete Series - Flashback Edition (Blu-ray)
    03/07 - What I Like About You - The Complete Second Season
    03/07 - You Me Her - Season One
    03/14 - Newhart - The Final (Eighth) Season
    03/14 - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Season Two
    03/21 - Master of None - Season One
    04/04 - Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season
    04/11 - Father Knows Best - Season Five
    04/11 - Schitt's Creek - The Complete Third Season
    04/11 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
    04/11 - Veep - The Complete Fifth Season
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Tuesday, April 25

    The Middle - "Trip and Fall" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    Trashy neighbor Rita Glossner (Brooke Shields) talks an apprehensive Frankie into taking a road trip to an unknown destination; Mike takes an embarrassing fall at the quarry and has to deal with even more embarrassment when OSHA is called in to investigate; and Sue attempts to convince Axl to end his estrangement with the family after learning their true feelings about April.

    American Housewife - "The Otto Motto" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    When Taylor keeps quitting school activities, Greg says that Katie, quite the quitter herself, sets a poor example. He challenges her to finally learn French after quitting lessons so long ago, so she reluctantly enrolls in a college class.

    Speechless - "S-I-- SICK D-A-- DAY" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    When Maya gets sick, Jimmy is forced to be the mom of the house, and Dylan becomes Kenneth’s replacement for JJ when Kenneth also gets sick. Jimmy ends up doing well with Maya’s normal duties, but he tries to keep it from her to avoid her feeling bad. Meanwhile, JJ protects Dylan from a boy she’s interested in. And despite its illness, the family bands together and pulls an all-nighter to finish Ray’s school project.

    Imaginary Mary - "In a World Where Worlds Collide" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    Alice freaks out when her friends want to meet Ben. But when an outing with everyone goes surprisingly well, Alice wants to meet Ben’s friends. However, Ben is hesitant but devises a plan that will impress Alice; but later, he makes a surprising admission.

    Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "The Last Ride" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    In what could be their last case as partners, Jake and Charles go to great extremes to apprehend a local bike thief. Terry shockingly isn’t in the lead for “Mr. Nine-Nine” (the detective who has solved the most cases), leaving Rosa determined to boost his ego. Meanwhile, Amy spends some precious time with Holt.

    The Mick - "The Implant" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    Sabrina tells Mickey she wants to augment her figure, so Mickey decides the best way to dissuade her from doing so is to do a test-run in public. Meanwhile, Jimmy takes Chip and Ben to a baseball game to teach them how to be more masculine.

    Great News - "Pilot" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    Katie (Briga Heelan), a frustrated cable news producer, is horrified when her mom, Carol (Andrea Martin), gets an internship at "The Breakdown." Despite Katie's best efforts, Carol is instantly beloved by the entire office, including blowhard veteran anchor Chuck (John Michael Higgins). But when Katie hits a roadblock while producing a big story, she realizes that maybe having a mom at work isn't such a bad thing.

    Great News - "Bear Attack" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    Katie (Briga Heelan) tries to set workplace boundaries with Carol (Andrea Martin), but when a big story about an escaped bear lands in her lap, her mom can't help but meddle. Meanwhile, Greg (Adam Campbell) tries to get Chuck (John Michael Higgins) and Portia (Nicole Richie) to do a little friendly banter at the end of the show.

    The Detour - "The Mule" (TBS, 10:00PM ET/PT)
    Robin and Nate live out their action movie fantasies as they make their way to the kids, who are actually doing fine without them.

    The Detour - "The Ass" (TBS, 10:30PM ET/PT)
    The family reunites, but this time Robin makes a huge mistake.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 24)

    Tuesday, April 25

    • Amanda Peet (Brockmire/Togetherness/Bent) - Catch Amanda on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC. She also appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Patton Oswalt (The Goldbergs/The King of Queens) - Patton stops by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
    • Kal Penn (We Are Men/How I Met Your Mother) - Kal is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Sanaa Lathan (Family Guy/The Cleveland Show/LateLine) - Sanaa stops by Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
    • Reid Scott (Veep/My Boys) - Reid visits Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
    • Arden Myrin (Working) - Arden appears on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
    • Hank Azaria (Brockmire/The Simpsons/Free Agents) - Hank is a guest on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
    • Andrea Martin (Difficult People/Working the Engels) - Andrea visits Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
    • John Leguizamo (The Brothers Garcia) - John guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
    • Patti LaBelle (Out All Night) - Patti will be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
    • Andrea Martin (Great News/Difficult People/Working the Engels) - Andrea talks about Good News on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am and in the 10am hour.
    • Alfonso Ribeiro (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air/In the House/Silver Spoons) - Alfonso will be on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
    • Jason Jones (The Detour) - Jason talks about The Detour on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
    • Ross Lynch (Austin & Ally) - Ross opens up about his new movie My Friend Dahmer on People Now at 8:30am.
    • Tim Daly (Wings) - Tim is a guest on the AOL Build Show at 11am.
    • Peter Engel (Producer of Saved by the Bell/California Dreams/Hang Time) - Peter dishes about his new memoir I Was Saved by the Bell on the The Wendy Williams Show at 2am on BET or on your local stations.
    • Sherri Shepherd (Trial & Error/Less Than Perfect/Sherri) - Sherri is a guest on The Real, so check your local listings.
    • Danny DeVito (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia/Taxi) - Danny appears on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.