No Ordinary Family (Tuesdays, ABC)

I've been briefly reviewing the new TV shows I've seen on Twitter (everything's brief on Twitter), but this one seemed like it belonged here.

I'll be honest; these made-for-TV not-from-comics superhero things cause a visceral negative reaction in me. I'm not sure if it's embarrassment or what, but I've never seen "Heroes" and even watching "Smallville" has been hit or miss (though I have warmed up to it lately). But Greg Berlanti, who co-created two of my favorite shows ever ("Everwood" and "Eli Stone"), and comic writer Marc Guggenheim (who also was responsible for "Eli Stone") are involved so I had to give it a shot.

I liked it. It's derivative for sure -- see the bullet in Chiklis' hand when he first discovers his powers -- but it was entertaining enough to overcome my bias. The family drama side is well done, as expected from the creator of "Everwood", and the process of learning about their (and each other's) powers was fun. (My favorite was the initial superspeed sequence. You can tell Guggenheim's practicing for the "Flash" movie.) The parents' powers are physical and the kids' are more cerebral, which I thought was a nice touch.

I'm tired of the narration gimmick in general, but it works here because Michael Chiklis is so likeable -- Even as awful Vic Mackey in "The Shield", people still liked him -- and his feelings of alienation as his kids grow up and his wife's career take off are believable. By the time Julie Benz starts talking to the camera, Chiklis had primed me to be OK with it. I liked that the family situation didn't change much at first even after the near-death experience that (apparently) gave them their powers, and I think it was a smart decision to focus mostly on the older characters in the pilot and leave the kids' highschool dramas for later.

The dialogue is mostly snappy (Dad, while the plane is crashing: "Everything's going to be OK. Have I ever lied to you." Daughter: nods Dad: "About anything important?" Daughter: "Yes!") with a few missteps. (It's just stupid that anybody in a board meeting of a research company would scoff at the idea that a plant found in the Amazon had commercial value, for example.)

It's not brilliant, but there's potential and there is good talent involved on both sides of the camera. I'm not completely hooked, though the twist near the end brought me a lot of the way there, but I'll watch it again. Given that I went in against the very idea of the show, I think that's a pretty impressive accomplishment on their part.

Comments

  1. I'm in the same place you are as regards NO ORDINARY FAMILY. Liked it somewhat - - didn't love it. I'll watch again. Even though the script seemed okay, the acting seemed off - even Michael Chicklis seems a little forced. I think the primary fault lies with the mom - - a nicely scripted and fleshed out character but she does not pull it off convincingly.

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