Last year (still feels odd to say), we were left with a delightful semi-surprise in the addition of a new dog for the family, courtesy of JJ pulling some strings. While the choice of breed does indeed seem a bit cliche (really? It had to be a Golden Retriever, or are we still stuck in 1997?) his adorableness and acting talent is inarguable. Of course, it does make sense that he’s no perfect dog–much like the DiMeos, remarks Kenneth, he’s got “some skills, but a frustrating inability to play by the rules.”
Still, despite Pepper’s charm, he’s not quite able to save the episode from feeling a little too familiar and played-out. Of course, Ray is full Ray–curmudgeonly and uptight–while Taylor wants to have a fun, sex-charged New Year’s Eve with him. Kenneth’s situation, which parallels Ray’s, is a bit funny, but not particularly believable, considering the total lack of screen time that Joyce (Liz Cackowski) has had in the past several episodes. It just doesn’t make sense that she’d so eagerly want to spend New Year’s Eve with Kenneth, or that they have anything resembling an adult relationship.
Maya and Jimmy, meanwhile, make an excursion to a local bar, despite Maya’s hesitations and instinct to stay close to her family in case something horrible happens (e.g. a fire, an earthquake). She’s in true Maya form, though, staying in control while Jimmy unwittingly drinks the entire two (three?) bowls of alcohol + sugar + juice at the place they go to have their “grownup” night. The scene that follows offers some of the most genuine laughs in the episode–namely Maya’s “I’ve reached karaoke level of drunk” quips–but it’s short-lived, as Maya reveals to Jimmy that she’s stone-cold sober, and drives the two of them back home, where the power has mysteriously gone out.
This sitcom, like most, capitalizes heavily on the “expected unexpected” ploy, regularly throwing in goofy antics for our characters to act out that are easy to make fun of, not only for us, but for the other characters. Ray is always pathetically and hopelessly uncool; JJ is almost always in some kind of awkward situation with girls; Dylan finds frustration in every episode for her intended plans or wants. However, for an episode intended to ring in the New Year, it may need to change some things up to keep our attention. Let’s hope that Pepper can bring the spice (pun intended) needed to continuously engage viewers and keep them hooked through 2018.
Season 2, Episode 11 (S02E11)
Speechless airs Wednesday 830 PM on ABC
Emily Nuncio Schick | Contributor