Fall TV Preview

Fall TV First Impression: Speechless

The broadcast networks have nearly 20 shows debuting this fall, including Kiefer Sutherland’s term as POTUS, Michael Weatherly’s NCIS follow-up and the story of MLB’s first female player. To help you prep for it all, TVLine is offering First Impressions of the not-for-review pilots.

Next up on our list….

THE SHOW | ABC’s Speechless (Wednesdays at 8:30/7:30c, premiering Sept. 21)

THE COMPETITION | CBS’ Survivor, NBC’s Blindspot, Fox’s Lethal Weapon (new) and The CW’s Arrow

THE CAST | Minnie Driver (The Riches), John Ross Bowie (The Big Bang Theory), Mason Cook (The Goldbergs), Micah Fowler (Labor Day), Kyla Kenedy (The Walking Dead) and Cedric Yarbrough (Reno 911!)

RELATED Fall TV 2016: Your Handy Calendar of 90+ Premiere Dates

THE SET-UP | The DiMeo family, headed by Driver and Bowie, is (again) on the move, having (again) found the “perfect” school/situation for their eldest son JJ (Fowler), who lives with cerebral palsy and has longed to have a “voice.”

RELATED Fall TV Schedule 2016: What’s on When? And Versus What?

THE FIRST IMPRESSION | Sharing the same sense of “pluck in the face of adversity” as The Middle’s Tuesday-bound Hecks, the DiMeos are a perfect neighbor for the Goldbergs, Dunphys and Johnsons. Tonally, the pilot makes its points about inclusion without being preachy and, more importantly, does so very comedically (in part thanks to Yarbrough’s portrayal of the new school’s lone black employee).

Driver brings just the right amount of zing as a notoriously demanding mother, while Fowler (who has CP in real life) and Cook are standouts in the pilot, conveying JJ and his brother Ray’s distinct needs and wants. (Kenedy plays the youngest DiMeo, who in the pilot is merely established as highly competitive.) This stands poised to be the kind of sitcom about relatable, imperfect, occasionally abrasive people that nonetheless tugs at your heart in the end.

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | With The Middle on the move, Speechless should give Wednesday’s 8 o’clock comedy block just the refresh it needs, where it will pair nicely with The Goldbergs and do precisely as well as any ABC sitcom does versus Survivor and three dramas.

MORE FIRST IMPRESSIONS  NBC’s The Good Place, The CW’s Frequency, ABC’s Conviction, Fox’s Pitch, Fox’s Lethal Weapon, NBC’s This Is Us, ABC’s Designated Survivor, NBC’s Timeless, CBS’ Bull and ABC’s Notorious

Watch the trailer for ABC’s Speechless, then vote in our poll.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Kevin K says:

    WATCH IT. One of the best new comedies of the season. Speechless is like My Name is Earl meets Raising Hope.

  2. LK says:

    Is it actually funny? The trailer that was released back in May didn’t seem to have any funny moments which doesn’t seem promising for a sitcom…

  3. Max says:

    Love Minnie Driver. I’ll be watching. Looks 100 times better than About a Boy.

  4. matraupach says:

    Of all the upcoming new shows, this is the one I really want to see….

    The trailer alone was hilarious and tackled serious issues at the same time…. just my kind of show!

  5. jakis says:

    I wouldn’t have said it was my kind of thing, but the trailer looks great.

  6. Brian says:

    Will give this a try.

  7. Carol C says:

    The trailer looks terrific with lots of laughs. Driver is the bomb.

  8. HAP says:

    Looks really funny.

    Slightly off topic however, why in the world did NBC move Blindspot to the 8pm time slot? Gonna kill it.

  9. Ally Oop says:

    I really hated the trailer and Minnie Driver’s character grated too much on my nerves so I’m giving this a pass.

  10. c-mo says:

    The trailer was hilarious, count me in!

  11. Lyn says:

    I’m apathetic over what i’ve seen on the new fall shows roster. To quote Randy Newman “Who’s in charge here?”.

  12. Dan says:

    I’m a Survivor fan, and have been since it started. A TV show about some kid in a wheelchair? Sorry, less than ZERO interest for me.

  13. uavegan2 says:

    I just watch the pilot. I am a mom with a disabled son. This is my life. It is all truth. That is what makes it so hilarious. Yes the trailer did not in anyway do it justice.

  14. Joshua says:

    really hilarious, this show will be great.

  15. Martha Smock says:

    My husband and I have a 14yr.old son with Duchenne Muscular Dystropy. We are so excited to see the show. It is refreshing to know someone is thinking about people like us in a challenging (to say the least) situation, yet still finding humor in everday obstacles that force us to make extreme decisions & say words we normally wouldn’t say. As an example, this obstacle just occurred today…our son has recently lost a good amount of weight due to his dystrophy, so we have to have him weighed on a weekly basis. His pediatrician is 1hr. away so we called our local hospital(which is much closer to our home) to see if they had a wheelchair scale. They informed us that they do not have such a scale & suggested that we use a semi truck
    scale @ a local grain elevator. WHAT!!! After calling numerous local doctors offices, some of them recommending the truck scale as well, we soon discovered the nursing home was the only place in our town that actually knew what the scale was & had one there. We decided just to drive the hour. Just one of the many “obstacles” we have to face daily. Can’t wait to see Speechless!

  16. Lisa says:

    I saw the pilot and loved it. As a parent of a son who does not communicate with words and needs a wheelchair for mobility and as an advocate working with people with disabilities I can relate to the situations. The pilot showed the stereotyping of people with disabilities and their families in a funny, insightful and educational way. Loved it. I hope the rest of the episodes are just as good

    • Kar says:

      I would guess if you have other children you don’t treat them like they are pieces of garbage like Minnie Driver’s character does in this pathetic show.

  17. VG says:

    LOVE IT!!! It’s different, it’s refreshing.. but it also makes you think. I look forward to more episodes and plan to watch every one!!

  18. ceresmary206 says:

    We saw the pilot and Love it. Tonight was the first episode, and in our minds (as two people with CP), the focus is not JJ, really. The major focus is on Minnie Driver. If the purpose of the show is to show how a mom copes with a child with disabilities, then it needs another title. I felt that the show needs to show more interaction with JJ in school with his care attendant, how he interacts in the classroom, etc. Not about mom freaking out that her ‘baby’ (and there’s far too much emphasis on that: disabled are children, not teens with feelings) growing up. It would be nice if in further shows that the focus be more on JJ, his siblings with JJ, and then his relationship with his parents. If JJ isn’t the focus (like “Wonder Years” and other shows about Kids where the show is presented from the point of view of the is on kid interaction) then I would suggest maybe ABC needs to consider that JJ is just a hook and that will loose this audience.

  19. Kar says:

    I am not impressed with Speechless. Such a completely unrealistic family dynamic and let’s face it this is sad that any parents with a disabled child would treat their other children so horribly.

  20. MK says:

    Minnie Driver is just plain irritating. If any parents are raising their children like this, they should be reported and the children taken away. Bring The Middle back to Tuesdays — now there is a funny show!

  21. Love the show!! Why are they only 5 episode?? Season 1 is over???