Monday, January 7, 2013

'Switched at Birth' Premiere Review - 2.01 The Door to Freedom

        On the season premiere of ABC Family's Switched at Birth, Angelo showers the families with multiple lavish gifts; John and Kathryn contemplate running for public office; Daphne is distracted by Chef Jeff; and Bay is accused of cheating - which leads to a big change in her life.

        It is finally the second season of ABC Family's Switched at Birth! After the seemingly-endless first season of the series closed last October, Switched at Birth returns - paired with the similarly toned Bunheads - to make for one exciting Monday evening schedule. As you may recall, I was not the biggest fan of the show's fall 2012 run of episodes that closed out its first season. Those episodes strayed too far away from what made this show so entertaining and a pleasure to watch - the family dynamics as well as the inside look on the deaf subculture. Instead of evolving and changing the dynamics that were already crafted, the show decided to take both Bay and Daphne off into their own major plots that proved to be boring and predictable. But now, with those horrendous stories out of the way, the season two premiere is a much more welcoming return to form for the show - with only one real clunker (more on that later).
        Season one concluded on a great creative end note with Angelo receiving millions in the final verdict of the lawsuit against the hospital. Now, with Gilles Marini officially on the show as a series regular, perhaps we can finally get some insight and tension that his presence should have brought to many stories so long ago. It has already made quite the visible difference as now we have hope that the show will finally deliver with the drama and ramifications of the Angelo-Regina relationship. The wedding between those two was such a big deal in the season one fall premiere and yet we really didn't see much of it afterwards. Tonight's scene of the two of them discussing building a house together should be a good sign that interesting things are to come between the two of them this year. Further proof is that whole pregnant one night stand thing. Once you overlook the outrageousness of its setup, this story could be a true game-changer for many characters. The confrontational scene between him and Bay on that subject was very powerful and perhaps the highlight of the premiere. Although he says he's changed, Angelo is still that guy willing to abandon his child. That core trait should be the foundation for this whole story and should not be quickly forgotten in the upcoming episodes. The premiere has set up these winter episodes as the year of Angelo and if the show doesn't shy away from some crucial plotting it could be a really strong batch of episodes.
        The premiere also did a sound job at bringing the core relationship of Bay and Daphne back together again. I will concede that their past stories in the fall have helped make them better characters in this season as I am now thrilled by the prospects of where the show could go from here. Bay is transferring to Carlton as part of a pilot program for hearing kids which is a great way to creatively get Bay, Daphne, Emmett and Travis all together. Pair that with Daphne's decision to keep Angelo's food truck gift and Travis' arc of getting kicked out of his house and everything is ripe for wacky hijinks as well as some high stakes drama.
        Unfortunately, the show didn't quite learn a lot from past mistakes as the political subplot introduced in this hour for John and Kathryn is quite a dud. I was a bit more interested when it was Kathryn gunning for the seat but after she was shot down and replaced with John I just didn't really care anymore. I know political campaigning is a really big trend in the current TV landscape right now but I just don't care enough about these two characters as potential politicians to even care about this story. The story also feels like it is just filling in the large serialized story grap that the conclusion of the trial arc left in last season's finale. If the show can somehow refocus this onto a reflection of how political campaigning effects the delicate balance of a family ecosystem, then I might turn around on it. But for now, I'm not hopeful on its prospects.

So what did everyone think of the premiere? How will Bay do at Carlton? Will Daphne be a success in the food truck business? Do you care about the political campaign? Share your thoughts in the comments.