One of the shows that I was most looking forward to seeing this fall after hearing about it was NO ORDINARY FAMILY on ABC. If you’re a regular reader of this column this probably isn’t a surprise at all since the shows I like lean towards a geekier flavor and NO ORDINARY FAMILY certainly fits the bill.
Before viewing the first episode of NO ORDINARY FAMILY I understood the premise of the show since it is one very familiar to most comic book readers. A family survives a plain crash in Brazil and not long after they start to experience super-human powers. The premise at first sounds very formulaic and I for one was left wondering where they could go with this? What new ground could they cover? Is the ordinary people with extraordinary abilities story ready to be taken in again after so many were burned so badly by the recently departed HEROES?
After seeing the pilot I was extremely happy both with the way that the premise is being handled as well as the possibilities of the future of the show. These are not perfect people that have their lives improved by their new abilities. This is the typical family caught up in the modern age and all of the dysfunction that goes with it. JIM POWELL (MICHAEL CHIKLIS) is the dad who considers himself a failed artist that is now reduced to doing sketches of suspects who is trying desperately to keep his family together. STEPHANIE POWELL (JULIE BENZ) is the mom who is an over-achieving medical researcher who is losing the connection to her husband and family the more she is excelling at work. DAPHNE POWELL (KAY PANABAKER) is the typical teenage daughter and J.J. POWELL (JIMMY BENNETT) is the son who’s most critical issue appears to be poor academic performance. This show is not a case of THE BRADY BUNCH GET SUPER. In today’s society they are the snapshot of an ordinary family.
The pilot for the show sets all of the above up pretty well for us in a very quick manner. The important beats are hit and we are rushed quickly to the vacation, the plane crash, and back home so the main part of our story can be told. It goes without saying, I think, that the discovery of the super abilities is the funnest part of the pilot (at least for the sci-fi lovin’ types like myself). Many a comic reader have dreamed of the moment where they would first discover super-human strength or speed and the show deliveries on these moments in ways I’m sure most of us have pictured them. The show also addresses the confusion or frustration such discoveries might also cause. One of my personal favorite moments is after STEPHANIE has revealed to a co-worker her abilities and as they test them the co-worker asks the same real world questions the audience might be asking as well.
The possibilities for the future of the show are also shown to us in JIM’s exploration of his new abilities. His job is an obvious plot convenience since he works for the police department and helps make a natural progression in the direction of a possible crime-fighting super-hero. His best friend GEORGE ST. CLOUD (ROMANY MALCO from WEEDS) helps to push JIM in this direction and by episodes end establishes himself pretty well as the potential sidekick. The discovery of a villain that also has super abilities finishes off the foundation of the shows potential, at least in the crime fighting direction.
The part of the show that I think will prove to be more entertaining is more of the real life conflict that may come from having these super-abilities. High school is complicated enough but DAPHNE’s new ability could further isolate her from the people around her. J.J.’s ability is certain to raise some eyebrows that will cause headaches for his parents both in dealing with him and as the school system itself feels the possible repercussions.
Since I already raised a semi-comparison early on I can certainly say that the beginning of NO ORDINARY FAMILY is far less mysterious and frustrating than the original pilot of HEROES. This show makes me want to watch to see what might not happen next and not because I feel I have to in order to understand what is going on. The show also feels more accessible than NBC’s upcoming THE CAPE which, from the trailer, looks more like a show you might see in Saturday syndication rather than network prime time. NO ORDINARY FAMILY is a family friendly show that I’d definitely recommend you all take in when it premieres Tuesday, September 28th.
With all of that said let’s move on to what viewing options are(n’t) recommended for this week.
NBC - 8:00 PM: I only mention this special installment of MINUTE TO WIN IT because the contestants are former MISS USA and UNIVERSE winners who are playing for charity. At this point NBC’s ratings might be considered the charity.
ABC FAMILY - 8:00 PM: I only mention THE SECRET LIFE OF THE AMERICAN TEENAGER because everyone forgets AMY’s birthday, which was the plot of SIXTEEN CANDLES and MOLLY RINGWALD plays AMY’s mom on this show. That is all.
LIFETIME - 9:00 PM: I only mention BOND OF SILENCE because GREG GRUNBERG is once again playing a police office and this time he has no special mind-reading abilities like he did on the aforementioned HEROES.
MTV - 10:00 PM: It’s the season finale of THE HARD TIMES OF RJ BERGER but don’t worry folks, he’s been renewed for another season.
ABC - 8:00 PM: I only mention WIPEOUT tonight because it’s not every day you get to write, “Are the Wipeout Weenies going to replace the Big Balls tonight?”
FOX - 8:00 PM: Tonight’s GLEE-peat is SECTIONALS, which was originally supposed to serve as the first season finale before the the show blew up. It served that purpose very well and I’m probably going to watch it again out of respect.
SYFY - 9:00 PM: The WAREHOUSE 13 agents try to have a relaxing weekend but wouldn’t you know it, one of those pesky artifacts get in the way. This is almost as surprising as well GILLIGAN and the castaways almost get off the island and something keeps them stuck there at the last minute.
CBS - 8:00 PM: Tonight on BIG BROTHER the veto competition is held and this is one of the ones where the House Guests must suffer to win. Tune in with me and enjoy their pain.
E! - 8:00 PM: I still haven’t seen the cable edited version of KNOCKED UP yet. Probably not going to tonight as well.
ABC - 9:00 PM: It’s another painfully barren night of programming so I’m recommending a repeat of MODERN FAMILY simply because even at its worst it’s better than most (and this episode is great).
BET 9:00 PM: Grab your only friend, Abba Zabba, and watch HALF BAKED when it’s on cable for free.
USA - 6:00 AM: If you love BURN NOTICE and don’t have to work today then you are in luck. An all day marathon kicks off with the last few shows of last season at 6 AM with the current season starting at 10:00 AM. All of this leads up to the season finale at 9:00 PM.
NBC - 8:00 PM: Tonight’s episode of COMMUNITY is one of the shining examples of why this was one of my new favorite shows of last season.
CBS - 8:00 PM: Fans of BIG BROTHER will revel in tonight’s double eviction as they play out an entire week of the show’s eviction process in one night. The best part is that the House Guests have no idea that it’s coming.
DISNEY - 9:00 PM: Did I say something about super-hero families? How about gathering up the family for tonight’s airing of THE INCREDIBLES?
SYFY - 9:00 PM: Other then tonight’s episode of EUREKA tonight’s schedule is a house of horrors. Don’t believe me? Let me demonstrate.
FUSE - 8:00 PM: The painful and horrific GLITTER staring Mariah Carey.
AMC - 8:00 PM: STEVEN SEAGAL’s scarily acted OUT FOR JUSTICE.
TNT - 8:00 PM: The bloody train-wreck that is the ADAM SANDLER’s remake of THE LONGEST YARD.
USA - 8:30 PM: The horribly unfunny WELCOME HOME ROSCOE JENKINS.
FX - 10:00 PM: The terrifyingly bad MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND.
At this point I’m writing off Friday folks.
NBC - 8:00 PM: If you can stomach it for two hours NBC promises that tonight all will be revealed in what is sure to be the series finale of PERSONS UNKNOWN.
BBCA - 9:00 PM: ANNIE helps a psychic speak to the dead in tonight’s episode of BEING HUMAN.
NBC - 8:00 PM: Schedule dominance is probably a shoe in tonight for NBC with the 62ND PRIME TIME EMMY AWARDS.
ANIMAL PLANET - 9:00 PM: Speaking of award shows, remember when THE COVE won the Oscar and they cut away because one of the producers held up a sign? Well, you can watch the award winning documentary tonight.
CBS - 8:00 PM: The Eviction Nomination ceremony on tonight’s BIG BROTHER won’t stand a chance against the EMMY’s I’m sure.
ABC - 8:00 PM: The Alphabet Network is really hoping you’d rather watch DANIEL CRAIG as JAMES BOND in CASINO ROYALE instead of that silly award show.
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