ABC’s ‘Speechless’: Show with something to say
Buyers like this show about a family with a special-needs kid
August 30, 2016
One in a series of Media Life previews of the new shows debuting this fall. You can find past previews here.
Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m.
The DiMeo family has moved countless times over the years in an effort to get their oldest son, J.J., who has cerebral palsy, the help he needs.
While hard-nosed mom Maya (Minnie Driver) is determined to keep going to seek the right care, the rest of her brood is ready to settle in at their new community, where J.J. makes an unexpected new friend and everyone is eager to finally make a home.
Scott Silveri (“Friends”) is an executive producer.
“Speechless” walks a dangerous line between comedy and drama, but the show largely stays away from “teachable moments” or anything too treacley to deliver amusing and often unexpected comedy.
The unique plotline could be a draw. In fact, ABC hopes the sitcom will grow into a smart and often politically relevant show like “black-ish,” which developed into an excellent topical comedy in season two.
But the biggest thing “Speechless” has going for it is its timeslot. It airs after “The Goldbergs” on Wednesday night, in the middle of ABC’s solid family comedy block.
And it’s leading into “Modern Family,” ABC’s No. 1 show in adults 18-49.
Unless it’s really terrible, “Speechless” should earn a full-season pickup, though it will have to show creative potential to receive a second season.
What media people say
Buyers believe “Speechless” will slip nicely into the Wednesday schedule.
They’re often wary of programs that blend serious topics with comedy, but they say “Speechless” carries it off.
“The show seems to fit well with its lead-in, and it’s a comedy that’s actually funny,” one buyer says.
What our readers say
In a Media Life poll asking readers to weigh in on the fall season, they voted “Speechless” ABC’s third-most promising new show of the fall, out of five programs.
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