Interestingly this episode didn’t focus on an aspect of being a special needs family like the previous episodes have.
This episode focused on Christmas, specifically Christmas spirit. Surprisingly it was Maya, usually the most cynical, that was full of the Christmas spirit and tried to spread it to her family. I loved the gag of Maya throwing groceries, presents and Dylan into her car as she had no time. Maya’s Christmas spirit being completely diminished was predictable, however I didn’t see the reason for it coming. The subsequent consequences of things going wrong for Maya and Jimmy when they were trying to make things right was predictable.
The subplot of Ray joining the school choir as an extra curricular activity was pretty weak on its own, with strength only being injected into it when JJ and Kenneth were brought into it. The twist of the choir teacher retiring and being replaced by Miss Bloom (Julianne Hough), and subsequently all the boys in school wanting to join choir, was predictable but funny. While Julianne Hough is a good actress, singer and dancer, I didn’t feel that her acting in this episode was all that memorable, however I loved her references to her judging techniques from DWTS and her duet with JJ. The fact that JJ got a solo even though Kenneth was the person singing was a bit of political correctness gone mad, however it is believable as Kenneth is technically JJ’s voice.
Maya’s Christmas spirit being diminished to the point where she became a Grinch, only to find out that the families from the school had donated money to them so she can buy a new van for JJ, was cliche.
The simultaneous reveal of the new van and the fact that the old van was never actually stolen was funny and well done, however it was also predictable and cliche–things going right for characters would be boring, something needs to go wrong or ruin their happiness.
I also enjoyed the credits scene of Kenneth doing a dance audition on behalf of JJ. This is the first time that Speechless have had a credit scene and I hope it won’t be the last.
Overall this was a nice episode, however I felt it was a little cheesy and cliche.