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No Ordinary Family is feel-good and family-friendly

A few minor retouches to the original version of the pilot seem to have made all the difference in setting up this fall's most heartwarming and refreshing family show.

ABC released a preview of their new superhero dramedy No Ordinary Family just over a month ago, and I was fortunate enough to be among those to see it. I enjoyed it a lot, even if I didn’t quite get the disconnect between Michael Chiklis and Julie Benz‘s characters of Jim and Stephanie Powell. They seemed like a typical husband and wife dealing with typical husband and wife issues, but certainly not disjointed enough to require couples counseling. Other than that, No Ordinary Family felt like a warm and comfortable blanket that you can’t wait to cuddle under on a crisp fall night.  And I liked it.

Although the family dynamic didn’t change much from the initial version, for some reason I did get a greater sense of dysfunction among the Powells this time around. I don’t have a wife and kids of my own, but I have many friends who do. And what suddenly occurred to me is what used to be considered dysfunctional is now considered the norm, which is why it didn’t hit me until I thought it over a bit more. The Powell’s inability to synchronize is a pretty accurate reflection of the majority of families today. The world is designed, it seems, to split families apart, rather than keep them together; a depressing reality. I’m looking forward to seeing the Powells realign in light of their newfound abilities and realize that family is the one thing you can truly count on. (I sound like an afternoon special!)

The scene where George (Romany Malco) gives Jim the card for the marriage counselor originally took place in George’s office. Moving the setting to the batting cages felt more natural to the characters and set up quite well for the later scene, where Jim tested his impenetrability. I don’t believe the first preview showed Jim dodging the initial ball, which I thought was an interesting addition, showing Jim’s uncertainty and hesitation. Malco, incidentally, is my favorite part of the cast thus far, as his eager beaver DA sidekick offered the most amusing parts of the pilot.

I didn’t catch Dr. King (Stephen Collins) the first time around, snooping in Stephanie’s lab, but it caught my attention this time; a subtle allusion of what was to come, evidently.  The last scene revealing Stephen Collins’ character to be a big baddie was not part of the original pilot either, but I had been exchanging tweets with him over the last month saying I hoped he would become the bad guy. That was the only thing that I thought could have made the initial version better. Lo and behold, I got my wish. I hope it’s a long-term character arc because, as everyone knows, every good superhero needs a good villain to make him truly extraordinary. I can’t wait to see what his connection is to the other people with abilities briefly mentioned during Jim’s altercation with the teleporter — no doubt the effervescent waters in Brazil factor in someplace.

I’ve read several reviews of No Ordinary Family from other writers and websites, and the general consensus has seemed to be that this show is rather “meh.” To that, I can only say this: I found No Ordinary Family refreshing, like taking a hit of oxygen in the smoggiest part of the day. Sure, it might not be as exciting as, say, stories about bloodthirsty vampires, serial killers, philanderers, drug addicts, promiscuous teenagers, or any other of the gamut of issues indicative of why the world is in such a sad state. No Ordinary Family may be “family-friendly” fare and a “feel-good” dramedy, but I ask you, what’s so wrong with that?

Photo Credit: ABC

Categories: | Episode Reviews | Features | General | TV Shows |

7 Responses to “No Ordinary Family is feel-good and family-friendly”

September 29, 2010 at 12:51 AM

. . . . .

No Ordinary Family may be “family-friendly” fare and a “feel-good” dramedy, but I ask you, what’s so wrong with that?

Not a single thing, Jeff. And let’s hope it’s just that.

But, with the revamp off the initial pilot, there still remains the ‘meh-ness’. Just get good enough to entertain us without dumbing down or remaining unremarkable.

No … I don’t need all the excitement, et al of other shows. Just put out some quality product that works is all I’m asking.

I am giving this a go way more than just the pilot episode. And I remain hopeful about it.

Let’s get goin’ …

September 29, 2010 at 2:09 AM

Count me in as one of the folks whose interest in this show as waned over time. I loved the original Pilot script, which was changed in several places by the time it was shot for the first version of the Pilot (Though, I didn’t see the final version of that was released recently either, so who knows what other tweaks were made).

I’m far from giving up hope though, because the cast alone is enough to keep me around for a while (I’m looking at you, Julie Benz … I couldn’t get into Dexter, but Darla was always one of my favorites).

September 29, 2010 at 2:12 AM

Plus, Tate Donovan > Stephen Collins.

Just sayin’.

September 29, 2010 at 8:22 AM

Tate Donovan’s out. They killed him off last night. At least Jim said their pilot didn’t make it.

September 29, 2010 at 9:19 AM

No, I know. It was originally scripted that the tag scene at the end, which was now with Steven Collins, was supposed to be the Pilot crawling out of the wreckage days later.

September 29, 2010 at 6:25 PM

I loved it. The cast is great, especially Michael Chicklis and Julie Benz. Excellent. The premise might be fairly familiar, ordinary people suddenly having superpowers thrust upon them, but the performances make it feel fresh. It manages to capture and explore the sense of awe and excitement that most people would experience when they discover they’ve suddenly gained super human abilities. I think most people with new found abilities, would have a natural inclination towards doing something good for the benefit of society, like catching bad guys, or something selfish, at the expense of society. Its just human nature. Something which NOF captures nicely. At the same time, both the kids discover abilities that help them in their struggle to grow and develop into adults, abilities that most of us wished we could have had at some point in our lives. Understanding the psychology behind the love of superheroes as a means of supplementing something that we perhaps lack in real life sets this apart from those series to which it will inevitably be compared. I hope, and think this is going to be a great, and long running series.

September 29, 2010 at 10:05 PM

I enjoyed it quite a bit. It was a fun show. I didn’t really like the scene where Jim tried to fly and fell, but that was about it. Oh … and the shooting thing at the batting cages. No real friend would shoot a gun at another (unless it is Kick-Ass, where I loved that scene in the drainage area).

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