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!


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Sunday, October 2

    The Simpsons - "Pixelated and Afraid" (Fox, 7:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    When Homer and Marge are lost in an icy wilderness, they must push themselves to their limits to survive.

    Bob's Burgers - "Frigate Me Knot" (Fox, 7:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    Linda encourages Teddy to attend a farewell ceremony for the ship on which he served in the Navy, but it means confronting his Navy pals and his past.

    The Simpsons - "One Angry Lisa" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    Lisa gets called for jury duty; Marge becomes obsessed with her exercise bike.

    The Great North - "Cillian Me Softly Adventure" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    During Lone Moose's Disaster Day event, Wolf and Honeybee have their very first fight.

    Bob's Burgers - "The Reeky Lake Show" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    The family's Labor Day lake trip takes a turn when the Belchers find themselves trapped in their cabin, hiding from what lurks outside.

    Family Guy - "Bend or Blockbuster" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    Resolved to enjoy a family movie night, the Griffins take a road trip to Bend, Ore., to rent a VHS from the last Blockbuster in existence.

    The Villains of Valley View - "Havoc-Ween" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    Amy brings her mischievous body-snatching Grandma to a party. Vic and Eva scam kids out of their candy untill they come across a villain even bigger than themselves.

    Raven's Home - "The Girl Who Cried Tasha" (Disney Channel, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    Alice uses a spell to bring her doll, Tasha, to life; when Tasha refuses to return to being a doll, Alice must enlist the help of Booker, Ivy and Neil.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of September 26)

    Friday, September 30

    • Jason Bateman (Arrested Development/George and Leo/Chicago Sons/Simon/The Hogan Family/It's Your Move/Silver Spoons) - Watch Jason on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Lea Michele (The Mayor) - Lea is a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
    • Phil Rosenthal (Creator of Everybody Loves Raymond) - Phil appears on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
    • Quinta Brunson (Abbott Elementary) - Quinta is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
    • Kevin Hart (The Big House/Undeclared) - Kevin appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Alison Brie (GLOW/Community) - Alison will be on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Mario Cantone (And Just Like That.../Sex and the City) - Mario chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
    • David Alan Grier (Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!/The Cool Kids/The Carmichael Show/Bad Teacher/Life with Bonnie/DAG) - David appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Topher Grace (Home Economics/That '70s Show) - Topher is a guest on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
    • Billy Eichner (Friends from College/Difficult People/Parks and Recreation) - Billy stops by to chat and play a rousing game of Never Have I Ever with a twist on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
    • Jim Rash (Community/Help Me Help You/Thanks/Katie Joplin) - Jim appears on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
    • Jason Alexander (Seinfeld/Bob Patterson/Listen Up!/Hit the Road) - Jason shares stories from his hit sitcom on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
    • Alfonso Ribeiro (In the House/The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air/Silver Spoons) - Alfonso dishes about the new season of Dancing with the Stars on Disney+ on Sherri, so check your local listings. He will also be on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
    • Nick Kroll (Big Mouth/The League/Cavemen) - Nick talks about Don't Worry Darling and Little Big Boys on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
    • Drew Carey (The Drew Carey Show/The Good Life) - Drew is a guest on Sherri, so check your local listings.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (May-September)

    Becker - The Complete Series (2022 Release) The Neighborhood - Season Four Young Sheldon - The Complete Fifth Season The Adventues of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Five The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Six

    05/03 - No Activity - Season Three
    05/13 - The Donna Reed Show - The Complete Seasons 1-5 (Time Life)
    05/31 - Becker - The Complete Series (2022 Release)
    06/14 - Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Complete Eleventh Season
    06/14 - Hacks - Season One (Blu-ray) (DVD)
    06/14 - Rutherford Falls - Season One (Blu-ray) (DVD)
    06/21 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season One / The Complete Season Two
    07/19 - The Neighborhood - Season Four
    07/19 - Reno 911! - The Hunt for QAnon (Blu-ray) (DVD)
    07/26 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Three / The Complete Season Four
    08/16 - And Just Like That... - The Complete First Season (Warner Bros. - Canada)
    08/16 - South Park - The Complete Twenty-Fourth Season (Blu-ray) (DVD)
    09/06 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray) (DVD)
    09/20 - Kim's Convenience - The Complete Series
    09/27 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Five / The Complete Season Six
    More Recent and Upcoming TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

    10/02 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of October 3, 2022)
    10/01 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Community to Finally Get a Movie; Marla Gibbs to Appear on Grey's Anatomy
    09/30 - NBC Orders Mike O'Malley Sitcom with Jon Cryer; Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin Premieres Nov. 23; Remembering Mork & Mindy and Perfect Strangers Creator Dale McRaven
    09/29 - Epix Rebrands to MGM+ in January 2023; Jack's Back with More Kindness on Apple TV+
    09/28 - Mike Epps Gets HGTV Series; black-ish's Marsai Martin Headlines Paramount+ Comedy Film
    09/27 - COZI TV Fall 2022 Schedule; FX Announces New Drama Premiere Date for Hulu
    09/26 - Tudum: A Netflix Global Fan Event Recap; The White Lotus Season 2 Premieres Oct. 30
    09/25 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 26, 2022)
    09/24 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Netflix Sets Premiere Date for Addams Family Based Series Wednesday; Peacock Cancels Queer as Folk
    09/23 - FX Renews Reservation Dogs for Season 3; Stars of Young Sheldon Head to The Price Is Right at Night
    09/22 - Bounce Dramedy Finding Happy Premieres Saturday (Sept. 24); Roku's Kevin Hart Comedy Adds More Stars for Season 2
    09/21 - ABC Extends Jimmy Kimmel Live Through Season 23; Peacock Orders Animated Comedy
    09/20 - CBS Announces New Holiday Special; The CW Halloween Specials
    09/19 - Rewind TV's Sabrina, The Teenage Witch-O-Ween Halloween Marathon; Iliza Shlesinger Returns to Netflix
    09/18 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 19, 2022)
    09/17 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Saturday Night Live Adds New Cast Members for New Season; Streaming Media Mergers in the Works?
    09/16 - The CW's A Waltons Thanksgiving Airs Nov. 20; Rewind TV's A Week of Very Special Episodes Includes Diff'rent Strokes, Facts of Life and More; Remembering Mark Miller of Please Don't Eat the Daisies
    09/15 - Antenna TV Celebrates The Bewitched Witch-O-Ween Marathon; Avenue 5 Returns October 10 on HBO
    09/14 - Rick and Morty Season 6 Premiere Is a Hit; FX Brings Comedy Specials to Hulu
    09/13 - 74th Primetime Emmy Awards Winners; HBO Max Renews Rap Sh!t for Season 2
    09/12 - MeTV Celebrates M*A*S*H 50th Anniversary with The Best by Farr; The Simpsons Season 33 Coming to Disney+
    09/11 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 12, 2022)
    09/10 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Laverne Cox Comedy from Norman Lear Lands Freevee Series Order; Fox Looking Into Adult Animated Drama
    09/09 - Dancing with the Stars Season 31 Cast; Great Scott! Back to the Future Reunion at New York Comic Con This Fall
    09/08 - COZI TV Acquires Monk, Bones and Las Vegas; HBO Max Renews Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin
    09/07 - Rewind TV Fall 2022 Schedule; Back to School Abbott Elementary Marathon
    09/06 - Antenna TV Fall 2022 Schedule; BUZZR Celebrates 50 Years of The Price Is Right
    09/05 - TV Marathons on Labor Day 2022
    09/04 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 5, 2022)
    09/03 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Jeff Garlin's Character to Exit The Goldbergs; Peacock Cancels Rutherford Falls
    09/02 - Freeform's 31 Nights of Halloween 2022 Schedule; Sherman's Showcase Returns for Season 2 on IFC and AMC+