I think this is the best comedy pilot I’ve seen in a long, long time.
Everything about this hour is perfect. The characters are beautifully realized, the humor is on-point right from the first minute, and on top of everything else, there’s a truly heartwarming message about a family living with a disability. It’s the rare network show that tackles such a powerful and intimidating concept, but this comedy further proves just how impressive ABC is with its willingness to showcase so many different kinds families (see Fresh Off The Boat, Black-ish, The Goldbergs, Modern Family etc…).
It’s funny but I never really loved Minnie Driver. But here? She’s glorious. She amazingly brings to life a loving mother who will do anything to protect her disabled child and ensure he gets the rights and treatment he deserves. It’s all so empowering and wonderful, and I certainly see an Emmy win in her future.
The rest of the family is also expertly cast. Naturally it’s wonderful to see Micah Fowler, a young actor with Cerebral Palsy, get such a prominent and high profile role on television. Here’s hoping he keeps getting terrific opportunities like this one in the future. He’s surrounded by a slew of memorable performances including Kyla Kennedy as the amusingly hilarious Dylan, and terrific turns by Cedric Yarbrough, Marin Hinkle, and Jonathan Slavin as part of the school administration. Gold stars all around!
Ramps & Pieces
– The teaser is just hysterical with Maya crazily driving her family to breakfast. The scene tells a tremendous job of using this one event to say so much about all their personalities. I especially love the running joke with the cops being afraid of confronting Maya and her temper.
– Will Jennifer stay on the show even though she’s not JJ’s voice aide anymore? Because she killed me!
– I genuinely laughed out loud as Mr. Powers made the entire class stand up for JJ. I can’t wait to see more of him and Dr. Miller going forward. Priceless characters!
– Dylan making fun of her classmates (who are terribly slow at track and field) was epic.
– How perfect is the development of Kenneth becoming JJ’s voice aide? Awesomeness! It’s going to be quite entertaining to see him continue butting heads with Maya.
– Such a touching moment between Maya and her son Ray on the ferris wheel. Awww.
– Loved the final “bouncy” segment over the credits.
Maya: That’s the finger. Work in progress.
Jimmy: It’s a cell tower. Like 30 bars. I can call God.
Jennifer: JJ! Hello, sugar! I cannot wait to be the ambassador for such a hip, young dude. I hit the Urban Dictionary and got up on all the lingo. I was thinking I’d call you J-Tizzy.
Dr. Miller: Well, you’ll find we take great pride in our progressive and thoughtful environment. In fact, we just changed the mascot from a Viking, with its connotation of pillaging and male sexual aggression, to a sea slug, which has both male and female genitalia.
Maya: A garbage ramp?
Dr. Miller: It’s not just a garbage ramp.
Maya: No, it’s a garbage-and-my-son ramp.
Maya: What disabled luminary is on his way to the Dumpster today? Oh, my God! It’s space genius Stephen Hawking. Enchanted, Professor. How are you?
Kenneth: I enjoy your blind-side energy. And speaking as the black man in Newport, a person who gets pulled over twice before he pulls out of the parking lot, the irony of being called intolerant is not lost on me. Now, if you don’t mind, I have a lot of work and a little bit of Lionel Richie to get back to.
Maya: Yeah. I don’t like him.
Kenneth: Nice to meet you, Blind Side.
Mr. Powers: Oh, God. He can’t stand. The ovation is insensitive! Everybody down. Sorry. We’re just excited. We haven’t had a student before who’s… who has… who is taller sitting down than any of us are standing up. (They start to clap again) We’re done with the clapping! Your classmates have something they want to share with you. Zachary? Zachary’s cousin is deaf, so he gets it.
Maya: I’m raising awareness.
Kenneth: Of the fact that you’re nuts? Oh, word’s out. Awareness is high.
Jennifer: I will not say “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo.” I don’t think that adds anything to the conversation!
Maya: Go upstairs.
Jimmy: There’s no upstairs here.
Maya: You… Go where your room is.
Ray: You were going to apologize?
Maya: Oh, must we put a label on it?
Dr. Miller May I say that I’m thrilled?
Maya: None of these rides have ramps.
A quirky and thematically-relevant comedy that’s unlike anything else on television. Outstanding!