No Ordinary Family

Posted on October 29, 2010


My wife and I watched the encore showing of the premier of this show. It’s on Tuesday nights, and we already had several shows we recorded that night. We hoped it would be part of Comcast’s OnDemand package, but then we realized that almost no ABC shows are. Fortunately, one of the shows we recorded is OnDemand, so now we record No Ordinary Family and watch NCIS whenever we feel like it.

The Set-Up

In episode 1, the Powell family takes a working vacation in South America. Stephanie Powell, the mother (played by Julie Benz) is a research biologist. She’s raiding the rain forests for new flora and fauna that might have applications in medicine and other sciences. The family is moving apart. Jim, the father (played by Michael Chiklis), feels like he’s doing everything while his wife advances her career. The son, JJ (played by Jimmy Bennett) is struggling in school. The daughter, Daphne (played by Kay Panabaker), is struggling with high school social life. Jim hopes the family vacation will bring them all together. It does, when their plane crashes in the Amazon and they have to pull together to survive. As soon as they get back home, the pressures of work and school push them back into their accustomed roles.

Then Jim discovers he has super strength.

Not Ordinary

Each member of the family develops super-powers. Jim is super strong, Stephanie is super fast, JJ is super smart, and Daphne is telepathic. Jim embraces his power, brings a friend into his confidence, and starts making tentative inroads into becoming a vigilante. Stephanie embraces her speed, bringing a research assistant into her confidence, and uses her speed to have more time for her family. Daphne rejects her power at first, because she just wants to fit in to high school. JJ is the last to develop his power, and then hides it because he wants his parents to be proud of his improving grades and his new-found athletic abilities (all sports are geometry and trig, and he can literally figure the angles incredibly quickly).


This show is what the Fantastic Four movies should have been: A family, struggling to stay together, dealing with their new-found abilities. It has an excellent cast, and so far hasn’t drawn out anything to the point of frustration. JJ admitted his powers by episode 5, for example. The show hasn’t given us any overly gimmicky, overly neat answers to complex family life.

It Needs…

At some point soon, we need to see the family working together. In Episode 5, JJ helped his dad save a woman caught under fallen debris by analyzing what was safe to move and what wasn’t. Also in that episode, Stephanie helped Jim steal a video recording so he could track down who was causing the earthquakes. Episode 6 promises to have Daphne use her powers to help Jim track down the people who robbed one of her friends. As a viewer, I can already see how much more effective they could be if they worked together.

We need to see Jim and Stephanie going to their counseling sessions, as they did in Episode 1. At least, it needs to interfere with their other activities. Are they committed to growing closer together? What price are they willing to pay.


Watch this show.

Posted in: television