TV Review: Speechless

speechless

Airs: Wednesdays 8:30/7:30c on ABC

Review: Pilot

I’m not sure how to classify Speechless. When I wasn’t laughing, I hated the show. Hated it. I don’t know why – did I dislike the characters? Was I just uncomfortable by the subject matter (special needs kid)? I don’t know. I did laugh a couple times, maybe even more than a couple times, but my overall reaction was negative.

Minnie Driver plays a lunatic mother on a quest to give her special needs son a “normal” life. The rest of the family attempts to cope with her obsession, leading to some bland personalities by comparison, especially the husband (Kripke from Big Bang Theory). The school employees were perhaps the best part of the show: The janitor becoming the “voice” of J.J. (the special needs son); the teacher so over-anxious to be PC ends up being un-PC is hilarious, and the overwhelmed principal trying to deal with a psycho mother.

While the characters were chaotic, the opening sequence made no sense – it seemed like they had filmed a funny bit and just crammed it in rather than have it make sense with a plot. The family has moved six times in the last two years (and probably more on top of that), I’m guessing they are in LA since everyone seems to know this, but this (are these long distance moves? Or local moves) was not made clear in the pilot.  Further, I would say that the joke about the principal being human or trash worked a lot better in the trailer. I think in part because they cut away from the scene and then back. If they had followed that scene and extended it, the joke would have worked a lot better.

Perhaps that is why I struggled – the editing was terrible. I have seen it described as “frantic,” which might be synonymous with bad editing. It could be my anti-comedy bias that I didn’t like. I will give the show another episode or two to see if it settles down, because Speechless was funny, I just hated it.

WWYT Rating: 5.9

Nielsen Rating: 2.0 This is perfectly in-line with all the other ABC comedies on the night. It might end up a little lower than the rest since this was the premiere, but I expect that ultimately it will survive. Chance of renewal 70% (up from 60%)

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