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Friday, October 1, 2010

No Orindary Family has an accurate title

    ABC has a new drama that combines the superhero genre with the traditional family formula.  In the pilot of No Ordinary Family, the Powells, along with a pilot, crash landed in a plane into the Amazon River.  The pilot of the plane, Mitch McCutcheon (Tate Donovan, Damages), died in the accident.  But his body is now in a lab, and who knows what will be learned from the corpse.  Did he develop something special, too?  Will be be revived somehow?

     Matriarch Stephanie (Julie Benz, Dexter, Angel), who is a renowned scientist, had brought her family with her on a research trip to study a rare flower that supposedly has lots of mysterious properties.  I assume that the flower is related to the glowing things in the water, and that is how their powers were developed.  Although she told her boss, Dr. King (Stephen Collins, 7th Heaven) about the flora, she did not reveal to him that she now has super speed, and can run in excess of 700 miles per hour.  Stephanie's power of being extremely fast makes sense for her character, as she never felt like she had enough time to devote to her job, her kids, or her husband.  It was why her marriage was suffering and she felt disconnected from her family at the time of the accident.  The rest of the clan similarly got abilities that matched something lacking in their life.  Son JJ (Jimmy Bennett, Star Trek) was the dumb one, so now he is super smart.  Daughter Daphne (Kay Panabaker, Summerland) was laughed at behind her back for now knowing that her boyfriend was cheating on her.  Daphe obtained the power to look into anyone's eyes and hear what they are thinking, making secrets from her nearly impossible.  Husband Jim (Michael Chiklis, The Shield, Fantastic Four) felt weak after giving up his dream of being an artist to take a steady job of sketching for the police department.  Now he is super strong, and can leap, excuse me, bound a quarter of a mile at a time.

     Jim and Stephanie kept their powers from each other when they first learned of them, but each shared the secret with a co-worker, showing that their bond is at less than full strength.  That's because, despite the comic book arechtypes, this is also a family drama, with real family issues to work through.  The series tries to balance the two, and, at least in the pilot, it did a pretty good job of it.

     Jim quickly learns, while chasing down a perp he heard about on his police scanner, that the Powells aren't the only one with extraodinary abilities.  The bad guy can teleport, making Jim's job of catching him difficult, indeed, but he eventually succeeds.  Jim wants to put his newfound talent to good use, and his Assistant District Attorney friend George (Romany Malco, Weeds) is going to help him.  Accordingly, George has built a high-tech command center in his garage, from where the two of them can keep an eye on the city.  No word yet if Jim will include the rest of the family in his activities.

     It's a strange concept, but it doesn't feel like a strange show.  It's a bit unique, but it has the possibility of going somewhere.  Unlike the recently canceled Heroes, the focus of the stories is not on a comic book situation, but the real life relationships in a family.  It's hard to tell how great the series will be from a pilot, but this one was pretty decent.  No Ordinary Family airs Tuesdays at 8pm on ABC.

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