Thursday, February 24, 2011

Checking in on "No Ordinary Family"

George helps Jim practice sparring on "No Ordinary Family"
Credit: ABC

Another show that I haven't had much time to write about since the blog launched is the ABC drama No Ordinary Family. I check in on the current state of the show after the jump.

This show took its sweet time finding itself. Going into the season, this was the fall show that I was the most excited about. It had the very talented Michael Chiklis and Julie Benz, and the very talented writer Ali Adler (coming over from Chuck). The pilot had an interesting setup and the concept seemed like something that would make a great show. With the first few episodes I found the show to be clunky and spelling everything out for the audience. The show just wasn't working for me. It had identity where it didn't know the type of show it wanted to be. I was trying to latch onto the ongoing storyline but there either wasn't enough of it or it took some sort of twist that I didn't like. 

Over the past few weeks the show has begun to find itself. It started to learn the type of story it wanted to tell and the show it wanted to be. The show started focusing more on telling ongoing and interesting stories in the past few episodes. They told interesting stories and increased the stakes for the characters. The past few episodes have been exciting and enjoyable because the show has taken a new approach to storytelling and this made the show so much better.

Jim Powell, played by Michael Chiklis, gains super-strength as his power. The way the show has used him is as a vigilante. Pretty much every week he's given a villain and he has to defeat them. Sometimes, especially early in the run, the villain-of-the-week storyline didn't work. They were boring and uninteresting. The past few weeks, starting with episode 13, the stories became more interesting. They actually had stakes that made me care about whether Jim defeated the villains. The past two weeks have been especially good. The shapeshifter and Roy Minor made for compelling villains that were interesting. There were stakes behind the stories that I cared about. It helps that Chiklis is a fantastic actor and can convincingly kick ass every week. He's fantastic in this role.

Julie Benz plays Stephanie Powell who has the power of super-speed. At first the show showed her getting used to her powers and showing how fast she can go. I never loved these parts, but I had no opposition to them. As the show went on, it started focusing more on her job and had her become involved in the ongoing arc with Dr. King as the villain (*). This is where Benz has been able to shine. Stephanie is no longer just a housewife, she's a centerpiece to a show. She has to stop her boss from continuing his evil program. Benz has played the role very well and can do anything the writers of the show have asked her to do.

(*) Stephen Collins has been doing a great job playing the villain. He's very, very creepy.

Each of the parents has their sidekick, and they are the best characters on the show. Romany Malco is absolutely hysterical as George St. Cloud. He's often played for comic relief and he fills that role really well. I look forward to having him on my screen, which is all I can ask from a character. 

Autumn Reeser is very, very good as Katie Andrews. She is also played for comic relief and every time I hear her say some sort of comic book reference I laugh. She also did a great job in the episode that aired this week with her ups and downs with Joshua. She was fantastic in the scene where she broke up with him. The Katie/Joshua relationship has been a very interesting part of the show and it doesn't look like it's over yet.

The kids have been more problematic during the show's run. In the beginning it was clear the show didn't know what to do with them. They had plotlines that weren't interesting and I tuned out those parts of the episodes. As the show moved on they became used much better. The past couple weeks had the best use of the kids throughout the run. This was especially clear last week with JJ's murder investigation. This really worked as a plotline and had me interested in the kids and I cared about what happened to them. I also like how they've both been paired up, this has created more interesting plotlines. Daphne (played very well by Kay Panabaker) is now with Chris, which led to one of the better self contained storylines in this week's episode. JJ (played by Jimmy Bennett) is trying to get with Natalie. This has led to plotlines that weren't particularly interesting, but not uninteresting either.

The show has started to turn its focus to the ongoing storyline, involving Dr. King and how he has created other people like the Powells with a serum. This has been the thing that has hooked me and kept me going throughout the run. The developments that this has taken over the past few weeks have been intreguing and keeping my interest. I'm excited to see where this goes over the next few weeks.

I'm starting to enjoy watching this show very much. It's because the show has grown into something much better then what it was in the beginning of the season. The rating have been awful so I'm going to take what I can get with this show and I'm hopefully going to enjoy the season as a whole.

Who else has watched the show? What do you guys think?

No Ordinary Family airs Tuesdays at 8PM ET/PT on ABC


  1. I really enjoy this show. It's clear that they weren't exactly sure what to do with some of their assets at the outset, but it's all holding together pretty well now. Romany Malco is pure delight; he sets the screen on fire whenever he's part of a scene. Chiklis and Benz make a nice couple. I've fallen crazy in love with Autumn Reeser!

    But a show is only as good as its villains, and NOF has a full range from sublime to ridiculous. Stephen Collins as Dr. King is perfect, as elegant as he is creepy. Josh Stewart as Joshua has a tragic edge to him that keeps me hanging onto the story line. Some of the "specials" King, et al, have created are interesting. Mr. Litchfield, JJ's nightmarish math teacher, is a cartoony and annoying waste of time. It's not the performance that's the problem; it's the godawful scripting.

  2. I too found it to be very slow moving at first, however, each episode became more involved and revealed more. Not as much as I would have liked, but nonetheless it was something to cling to until the following week. Each story line intensified, all but JJ's that is. I found the football theory to be a little far fetched. Stephen Collins amazes me. How you go from a sweet kind hearted minister to the creepiest and darkest of villains with such propensity is fascinating. All and all if the show can keep the pace of excitement at the current level and the ratings increase, I'm sure ABC will see it through to another season. At least I'm hoping it will.


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