This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Yes, ABC deserves applause for its new sitcom "Speechless" (7:30 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4) because it features a family with a special needs child.
But you won't feel like you're doing public service when you watch this show. It's very funny. Very entertaining. And it has a big heart.
Minnie Driver stars as Maya DiMeo, a determined, unorthodox mother who fights for her family including her oldest, J.J. (Micah Fowler), who has cerebral palsy. Maya has forced her family to move around a lot, looking for the right school for J.J. And as "Speechless" begins, they've made their latest move.
Daughter Dylan (Kyla Kennedy) is thrilled with the new school's track facilities. Son Ray (Mason Cook) is not happy about leaving his friends behind. Again.
Family patriarch Jimmy (John Ross Bowie, "The Big Bang Theory") is willing to do whatever his wife wants, which seems the easiest way to go.
And the fact is that the new school will provide J.J. With a full-time aide who will speak for him because, yes, he's speechless.
And, yes, Fowler really does have cerebral palsy.
The local police are already well acquainted with Maya, and don't think it's worth it to stop her for speeding. The new principal gets to know Maya right away she goes on a tear when she learns that the school's only ramp (for J.J.'s wheelchair) is designed for the janitor, Kenneth (Cedric Yarbrough) to get the garbage to the dumpster.
(And Kenneth turns out to be a hoot.)
One of my TV critic pals thinks there's too much yelling in "Speechless." He grew up in a house that was pretty quiet.
I, on the other hand, grew up in a house with four siblings and lots of yelling. Not necessarily angry yelling, but lots of noise.
My three children continued the tradition.
So, quite honestly, "Speechless" seems pretty normal to me. And pretty funny.
I'm anxious to see more episodes.