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Case Number 23196: Small Claims Court

Buy Switched at Birth: Volume One at Amazon

Switched at Birth: Volume One

ABC Family // 2011 // 435 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 25th, 2012

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson was switched at birth with the son of Arabian prince.

The Charge

One mistake changed two families forever.

The Case

And it was a bigass mistake. See, years and years ago, two babies were born at the same time at the same hospital and a nitwit nurse accidentally swapped them. The two girls, now teenagers, have been brought together, leaving both families grappling with the fallout.

Bay Kennish (Vanessa Marano, Dexter), a privileged daughter in a wealthy family pushes for a genetic test, prompting the reunion with her counterpart, Daphne Vasquez (Katie Leclerc). Daphne and her (single) mom aren't nearly as well-off as the Kennish clan, having battled several challenges in their lives, most notably Daphne's encounter with meningitis which led to a loss of hearing.

So there you go, a clash of multiple clashes: hearing and non-hearing, upper and middle class, single parenting and two-parent models, and general personality differences. All of the craziness is inflamed by the typical drama that accompanies teenagers.

On paper, sitting through Switched at Birth may seem like a painful proposition, but damn it all I liked this show. I have no idea what it is about ABC Family hourlongs, but they have my number. The fact they tend to involve teenaged girls is not the reason either, smart-ass.

Switched at Birth drips with the usual melodrama of fractured relationships, romantic entanglements, boyfriend-stealing, murderous intent on the basketball court, parental distrust, sibling rivalry, and gambling addictions, but tosses in the added dimension of the deaf culture. It's a nice touch, and not done in an overly-sentimental fashion. The moronic way most of these characters act around the deaf grew tedious (do people really look at deaf person and shout, as if he or she would hear them?!), but the dopiness is trumped by some genuinely affecting moments.

Ten episodes for Volume One and plenty of angst—-but it's a good angst, earnestly acted by its troupe and written well enough to keep the narrative flowing. Worth scoping out, if this sort of thing is in your wheelhouse.

The discs: standard definition 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital, no extras.

The Verdict

No cynicism and a robust amount of heart, plus a MILF-tastic Lea Thompson (Back to the Future) makes Switched at Birth a nice little surprise. Not Guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 85

Perp Profile

Studio: ABC Family
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 435 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Drama
• Teen
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None


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