Archive | April 2017

House Husbands–Season 5 Finale

So we’ve now reached the end of the fifth season.

Season finales tend to go one way or the other due to their unpredictable nature. If a show isn’t renewed, all loose ends have to be tied up and the ending has to be satisfying (although you can’t please everyone). If the show is renewed, there has to be enough loose ends tied up to properly wrap up the season, as well as open new doors for future plots.

Since I can’t find any news of House Husbands being neither cancelled or renewed for a sixth season, overall I found the finale to be quite underwhelming.

Of course the focus needed to be on the fallout of the revelation that the school is shutting down and Lewis’ knowledge of it. I found his outburst at the school meeting to be quite bizarre and frankly didn’t have any real purpose, other than an attempt at a laugh.

As well as the exploration of the fallout on the adults, the exploration was also needed with the children. I knew Poppy would be injured in some way due to the promos aired and I knew it wouldn’t be by a car as that had already happened with Angie in an earlier episode, however I felt that the writers choice to have her fall out of a tree fit well in the plot. Two kids injured in one season just to add drama I feel is an unnecessary and overwhelming cliche, the writers need to think of better and original ways to amp up the drama of their plots. I could see Poppy’s recovery coming, but I’ll give it a pass.

Knowing it was the finale, I did wonder all week how the school shutting down story arc would be tied up. The Mayor purposely giving the Minister the wrong numbers and the reveal of this being incorporated in the school’s anniversary play, was the best way to have it end. However I feel that this serious and important plot should have been spread out throughout the season rather than squeezed into two episodes. That being said I did enjoy Lewis and Gemma working as a team to get what they needed, and Gemma throwing various items towards but not at the security guards was hilarious.

I didn’t expect Gyton Grantley to return at the tail end of the episode with the boys on the Kokoda Track and I thought it was nice. I’ve never seen a departed character return, let alone meet the character who replaced him and it was a nice moment. There was a part of me that felt it was a bit of waste to leave his appearance for the last few moments with no explanation as to why he decided to return, and whether his return will be permanent. However it was a nice ending for a finale.

In regards to the season a whole, it has been a major improvement on the previous two. Seasons three and four were nothing but melodramatic and I believe the writers were trying to make the show (unsuccessfully) into a soap opera. With this season and its new characters, the writers have brought the melodramatic downs employing more subtlety, and I’ve found their plots have been tighter and more concise. It’s not as a good as season two, but if I had to rank all five seasons from best to worst, this season would come second. For those of you wondering, my order from best to worst is: season two, season five, season one, season three and season four.

I hope House Husbands will be renewed, but if it isn’t, this finale was a good but not great way to go.

House Husbands–Season 5, Episode 11

So now the focus is on Lewis as a Councillor.

Lewis has won the district bi-election and can now “clean up council” or so he thinks, the reality of Lewis actually ending up on the bottom of the council pecking order was obvious and I like how the writers subtly but surely showed that reality. I found the fact that the Mayor revealed to Lewis that Nepean South would be shutting down, just as he becomes a Councillor to be a huge cliche, however it is a nice plot for the remainder of the season. I’m not sure how I feel about the fact that the school shut down plot completely departs from the rest of the season but it is interesting enough.

Of course Gemma is provided a huge and conflicting job opportunity at the same time with the San Diego internship, which was mentioned in an earlier episode. I hoped that the bullying surgeon wouldn’t be returning and thankfully he didn’t, although it would have been another solid conflict, especially since it wasn’t resolved in that particular episode. The debate that emerged about whose career is more important out of the two of them did fit the plot well and is partially the premise of the show in its entirety, but since this debate has been addressed time and time again, I thought it was a cliche.

I loved the moment when Lewis leaked the news of the school shutting down to a reporter as it was true to his character, the only true moment of the entire episode. The montage of all of the characters reading the newspaper article was a nice touch, however I did see Lewis being the scapegoat coming.

Overall, despite the cliches, I feel that this was one of the best episodes of House Husbands that I have ever seen. This is due to the fact that the writers didn’t follow their usual formula. They abandoned their in media res writing technique and kids/school event go-to, as well as made the choice to tell the story with the focus on two of the main characters, rather than slicing the pie and focusing on the whole group.

 

Speechless–Season 1, Episode 6 (D-A-T-E–Date?)

This episode explored the possibilities of JJ dating.

I found the meet-cute of JJ and Claire (McKaley Miller) first interacting under hostile circumstances, only for them to grow to like each other to be cliche. However I appreciated that the cliche itself had a JJ flavour to it through the temporary disabled parking permit, sarcastic school tour, and the physiotherapy session. It was interesting to actually see what JJ’s physiotherapy sessions involve as his need for it has constantly been alluded to.

The realities of JJ essentially friendzoning himself was incredibly sad and not surprising, however I hope that the scenes sparked a debate with viewers, inner or otherwise, on the assumptions that able-bodied people make in regards to people with disabilities dating. This subplot wasn’t resolved for the obvious reason that it is clearly going to be a story arc, an essential one to replace the Ray-Jillian subplot that concluded in the previous episode.

Unfortunately the Ray and Dylan subplots were weak again, however they were intelligent and humorous enough to make up for it. Ray’s efforts to be cool and have male friends was always going to backfire in some way and the whole ‘nip pic’ situation was the way it was going to happen, especially in the ridiculousness of it all and not to mention that it’s not who Ray is. Meanwhile Dylan’s subplot was a little clunky as the transition from her anger of the meaningless trophies to her family being messed with, wasn’t seamless.

What I appreciated about both of the Dylan and Ray subplots is how they briefly interweaved at the end of the episode and through Jimmy. Jimmy’s way of letting off steam was simultaneously odd and adorable, and having Dylan’s trophy subplot affect the ending of Ray’s subplot was a nice touch. On another note, it was nice to see that Maya has a life outside of JJ, albeit through him, with the special needs mums clique.

Overall this episode was good but not great.

Speechless–Season 1, Episode 5 (H-A-L–Halloween)

This is the first episode providing an insight on how the DiMeos celebrate holidays.

Of all the holidays that the writers could have used to show the comedic side of a family with a special needs child, I felt that Halloween was the perfect one. The costumes, trick or treating, haunted houses and so on, were all incorporated throughout the episode perfectly.

I loved the character development with Jimmy’s talent to create a family costume to creatively incorporate JJ’s wheelchair, and the photos of the previous Halloween costumes (Star Wars, Titanic, Aladdin), and the subsequent discovery and reaction of Ray and Maya being a couple in every costume was hilarious.

I did see the children abandoning the plans for trick or treating in the family costume coming, as every story needs an obstacle or a drama to kick off, that’s just basic writing, however I loved how each of the kid’s plans played out.

Throughout the season so far, each episode always endeavours to explore how JJ lives his life as normally as he possibly can and the affects of his disability on those around him. Each issue and episode is like a layer of an onion being peeled off. JJ getting drunk for the first time and having the typical high school experience was another layer being peeled off.

I felt JJ’s tricks to get drunk were hilarious and I really felt for Kenneth, especially when he eventually discovered the inevitable. Again Fowler’s acting chops were put on display, this time as “drunk JJ”, and he makes an adorable and hilarious happy drunk. What stood out for me and would have for the majority of viewers was Jimmy and Maya’s reaction to discovering that JJ was drunk, as it provides an insight into what they are really thinking when it comes to raising a disabled child. Other hilarious highlights of this subplot for me was JJ’s slurring of his words, and Kenneth’s efforts to hide JJ’s inebriation from Jimmy and Maya.

The Ray and Dylan subplot with the haunted house was well done, Dylan’s dark side emerging with her ideas was hilarious but not that surprising. However I loved how it eventually led to Ray coming to the realisation that Jillian is not interested in him. The writing has been on the wall through out the season, however I’m glad that Ray finally realised it and it didn’t drag out. I also loved Dylan’s reaction to Ray’s realisation, and watching Jimmy and Maya’s parenting skills outside of JJ being put on display.

Another hilarious highlight of the episode for me was Maya’s “dead to me” list and its use to cheer Jimmy up after the kids left, not to mention the Back to the Future family costume at the end of the episode.

Overall a solid comedic episode with minor but interesting character development.

Speechless–Season 1, Episode 4 (I-N-S–Inspirations)

This is the first episode that explores both sides of independence in the DiMeo family–JJ’s independence from his family and the DiMeo family’s independence from the concessions they have to make for JJ.

The A story of JJ’s day of freedom and the special treatment that he and Kenneth receive was well done. The exploration of special treatment, and the joys and power of it going to Kenneth’s head was bound to happen at some point, and the outcome of something going wrong was inevitable. Fowler’s facial expressions were brilliant and provided the perfect opportunity to showcase his acting chops, as this is the first time we see JJ angry.

This particular development of JJ and Kenneth’s relationship when it comes to boundaries needed to be explored and was done with the right amount of realism without being preachy. I loved the ending of this story with JJ driving like any other 16 year old boy who has never driven before, I would like to know how he managed using the accelerator and the brake, however since the use of his legs and feet haven’t been directly addressed, I can give it a pass.

Like the issue of boundaries in JJ and Kenneth’s relationship, the DiMeo family dynamic without JJ’s presence was bound and needed to be addressed at some point. I found the fact that they all constantly felt guilty about having fun without JJ to be predictable, but I did enjoy the paintball scenes and the discovery of how Maya’s charm affects those around her.

I felt that all of their guilt and Maya’s inability to have fun, perfectly showcased the effects that having a disabled family member has on the dynamic of the remaining able-bodied family members. I especially loved the paintball scenes, as it was great to have scenes in a location outside of the family home and the school, and Maya’s declaration that she broke her arse at the ice skating rink, as it was one of those hilarious one-liners that you don’t see coming.

I felt that this episode was the best so far, as this is the first episode where both the A and B stories interweaved seamlessly but were also solid as independent stories.

 

Speechless–Season 1, Episode 3 (B-O-N–Bonfire)

So the pilot established Speechless‘ premise and characters, and the previous episode established JJ and Kenneth’s relationship, now this episode is establishing JJ’s friendships with the other students at his mainstream school.

Again JJ’s friendships with the popular kids and his sense of humour in his interactions with them showed another side of him as a typical teenage boy. I also appreciated how his friendships with them all seamlessly flowed into the A story of the school’s much anticipated bonfire being cancelled due to his inability to attend.

The alternative bonfire was indeed a disaster as JJ described, another example of over-the-top compensation for ignorance/intolerance, however I feel it was balanced out well by the students saying how they were feeling about the bonfire being cancelled. I feel that those moments showed another realistic side of living alongside someone with a disability, in this case, going to school with one. The students, including his new friends, expressed feelings that until then they didn’t have the guts to say out loud. I felt it was a great choice by the writers to have Maya’s idea backfire, only to redeem herself using inspiration from JJ’s initial prank with the cool kids. I also appreciated the revelation that JJ actually wanted Maya’s help with the bonfire, showing that they are still figuring out the realities of being a part of a mainstream school. I hope that their journey on this discovery continues to play out throughout the season.

The Dylan and Ray subplots were hilarious and were an improvement of the previous episode’s subplots, however there was still not enough time being spent on them. I appreciated the character development in Dylan with her questioning why she runs and loved the scene where she questions her motives in front of her track team, which in turns leads to them all revealing their own doubts. I also enjoyed Ray’s attempts to woo Jillian, although I don’t think there is any hope there. I also appreciated the character development with Jimmy when he reveals to Ray exactly why other people’s opinions don’t phase him, which is believable and relatable.

Other hilarious moments of the episode included Kenneth’s hilariously sad dynamic with the high school students, Maya replacing JJ’s board with “cooler phrases”, and Dylan’s track teammate who apparently deserves the pain she feels while running because of “what she did”–what did she do?

Overall this episode was improvement on the previous one with its solid character development.

 

 

 

Speechless–Season 1, Episode 2 (N-E–New A-I–Aide)

Now that the pilot is done, the show can now focus on character exploration. This episode focused on the major choices made by the characters in the pilot–moving house and Kenneth being hired as JJ’s aide.

The A story of Kenneth’s first day as JJ’s aide was absolutely spectacular. From the beginning where we see Kenneth making a rather big mistake and Maya feeling simultaneously threatened and distrusting, to the middle where the hilarious bonding of Kenneth and JJ takes place, to the ultimate but cliche outcome of Maya changing her mind, was written incredibly well.

Kenneth’s idea of “going shopping” in the school’s lost and found was writing gold and I appreciated another glimpse of JJ as a typical teenage boy by his unique way of showing Kenneth his interest in girls. The whole structure of the plot with Maya distrusting Kenneth, given the proper opportunity to fire him, only to end up changing her mind was cliche and predictable, but due to how moving the reason for her change of heart was, I’ll give it a pass. JJ summed up this plot and Kenneth’s purpose best by pointing out to Maya that he “gives him stuff you can’t”. While JJ clearly loves Maya and she is the right mother for him, at the end of the day boys need men for certain things, and for JJ his aide is definitely one of them.

I felt that the B story of Jimmy (John Ross Bowie) and Dylan (Kyla Kenedy) “announcing their family” to the neighbours by acting like idiots was weak. It was humorous enough and it was nice to see the two of them bonding, especially as Ray and Maya’s relationship was the focus in the pilot, and it ended well enough with the whole family eventually getting in on the act, I felt this story would have been stronger if there was more time devoted to it.

Minor hilarious highlights of the episode for me included Kenneth’s questions for JJ and Maya teaching Dr Miller how to argue.

Overall this episode was solid, but not as strong as the pilot.