'No Ordinary Family' premiere disappoints
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If a pilot sets the tone for a TV series, ABC's "No Ordinary Family" (8 p.m. Tuesday) is in trouble.
The show's premise has enormous potential -- it's essentially a live-action version of "The Incredibles," about a family that gains superpowers -- but Tuesday's premiere disappoints with its slow-moving plot and whiny characters.
Starring: Michael Chiklis, Julie Benz.
By now, viewers have seen enough superhero origin stories that they don't need everything spelled out, and yet that's exactly what "No Ordinary Family" does. After surviving a plane crash in Brazil, the Powells return home ready to appreciate one another more, but that doesn't last. Soon parents Jim (Michael Chiklis, "The Shield") and Stephanie (Murrysville native Julie Benz, "Dexter") are in marriage counseling and kids Daphne (Kay Panabaker, "Summerland") and JJ (Jimmy Bennett, "Star Trek") are bemoaning their existence.
"No Ordinary Family" is a superhero show where having superpowers are viewed as a nuisance and another bit of adversity to overcome.
"I think I liked us better when we were just dysfunctional," Daphne complains.
Jim, a police sketch artist, is the one family member who seems to find some joy in his ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound and catch a bullet between his fingers. It allows him to brush off his insecurity about being surrounded by detectives and beat cops (a bit of a nod to Mr. Chiklis' "Shield" past, perhaps).
In the most aggravating aspect of the pilot, once Jim and Stephanie begin to recognize their new abilities, rather than confiding in one another, they share the discovery with co-workers instead. I guess that explains the need for marriage counseling and Daphne's declaration: "This family isn't broken, you two are!"
Again, that's a pretty big bummer to lay at viewers' feet if they're expecting a lighthearted family adventure, which is what "No Ordinary Family" promises in its concept.
"Family" was co-created by Greg Berlanti, an excellent writer who previously brought viewers "Everwood" and "Brothers & Sisters," and Jon Harmon Feldman, whose track record is less exemplary ("Big Shots," Dirty Sexy Money," "Reunion"). Perhaps they will find a way to make future episodes more entertaining with a less world-weary tone. But after the pilot, some viewers may be hard-pressed to give this less-than-super "Family" another chance.
First Published September 26, 2010 12:00 am