Monday, August 23, 2010

No Ordinary Family

No Ordinary Family:
Love The Show, Hate The Title.

Its strange really, last year was the end of the once powerhouse but turned trainwreck series Heroes, and with it many people thought it would bring about the end of the idea of superheroes and all things related on a major american network (Some could argue the ending this year Smallville counts but The CW is the second to the bottom network 95% of the time in the weekly and nightly ratings, so its "mainstream" status is arguable.), but with Heroes sending after that just disastrous last season, I found it really odd to discover that there were going to be afew new Superhero themed series this upcoming year, with NBC's "The Cape" and ABC's "No Ordinary Family" getting the most buzz, and though I've not seen The Cape yet, I have recently watched the pilot for No Ordinary Family, and I must say, its actually alot better then I was expecting it to be, I mean way better, like to the point I'm actually excited, like Fringe excited. Yes, I think its that good.

On the surface the show looks abit like a live action version of The Incredibles, but instead of about retired superheroes and their children, its the story of The Powells, your average modern day family, thats slowly drifting apart, the children are off in their own worlds, and the parents are drifting slowly apart, and no one is connecting, they are the textbook case of dysfunctionality, and though they are all aware of this, that doesn't stop Jim Powell from dreaming and remembering. Jim is sort of a man out of place, a police sketch artist that used to be an artist, he wishes his family would be what it once was, a loving caring unit that they once were, as he sees his daughter struggling with the troubles of having a boyfriend and popularity, and his son suffer with the fact that no one believes in him and treats him like he's stupid, and he feels heartbreak when he looks at his wife who though she's become a giant success in life, he realizes its cost her the family they formed, and is scared it will cost their marriage in the end. Jim doesn't know what to do with himself, he looks at his life and wishes he could do more, that he was out there catching criminals and keeping the world safe instead of drawing criminals, and he wishes for his glory days of being happy, this desire is what leads him to convince his wife to turn a research trip to the deepest Brazilian rain forest into a family vacation together. Which she agrees could be needed.

While they're in the rain forest, Jim gets sick of the fact his daughter's constantly texting her friends, and his son is just watching television, and that his wife can't make time to be with them all, to counteract this he forces them all to go on an air tour of the rain forest, claiming its something they'll all remember for the rest of their lives. Ironically, Jim isn't aware at this point how true that statement really is. As they're up in the plane, a powerful storm comes out of nowhere and as they try to fly through it, one of the plane's engines catches on fire and though they try to keep it in the air, the pilot has to crash land it in a remote lake in the rain forest, thanks to Jim making sure they're all ready and repaired for it, The Powells survive the crash, but the pilot does not, they all eventually make it to the side of the lake and are rescued, once they return home, things seem to go back to normal, much to Jim's dislike, he expresses this to his wife, who understands, but is saddened he felt there was any chance things could be different. Jim goes to meet his friend D.A George St. Cloud, who tells him that maybe him and his wife should go into counseling, claiming they can fix themselves, then everything else.

The next day Jim is at work taking a description of a murderous bank robber from a widow, when he gets up to get some coffee, he has a conversation with a defective whom he's friendly with, asking her to handle the whole being a cop aspect thing, she tells him it never actually gets easy, and as they're talking, a man jumps up from a desk where a cop is taking his information and pulls the officer's gun, and fires a shot toward Jim and the detective he's talking too, Jim instinctively grabs her tossing her to the ground, saving her life. When he gets up, he realizes that he'd not only caught, but crushed the bullet in his hand. This freaks him out and he takes the rest of the day off to clear his head. As this is happening, Jim's wife Stephenie is at her lab where she explains a believed miracle plant her team in Brazil discovered, later in her office her boss comes to her and tells her that their company's chairman is flying in to discuss full funding for her project that night, Stephenie calls Jim to tell him that she has to cancel a planned night out for the two of them, to which Jim is ok with given that he's out experimenting with his new power, or as he puts it "writing the owners manual for his new ride", as she leaves her office she wishes she could just have more time in the span of a day so get what she needs done, and as she's running to her car, something happens, she starts to run faster, and faster, and faster, and eventually runs so fast that she lets out a sonic boom and runs so fast that time around her starts to slow down, she comes to a stop in the middle of a busy freeway.

As Jim and Stephenie discover their powers, Jim calling his friend George in to help him with testing, they discover he is superstrong, can jump several miles at a time, has super enhanced reflexes and durability which allows him to avoid and stop anything that has so far been thrown at him, and Stephenie with the help of her assistant discovers that she's able to run at "over a mile every 0.6 seconds" and that she creates a kinetic barrier around herself and anyone she takes along with her when she's running but that everything else on her is sped up as well, her reflexes, her mind, her metabolism meaning she'll have to eat tons but she'll never gain a pound. Jim decides to take his new powers out for a test drive superhero style, and when trying to stop the same robber he sketched earlier, that he is infact, not bulletproof, the implication being that the closer the gun is to him when fired, the more damage it does, it doesn't really give him more then just a fleshwound, bit still its enough to make Jim realize he's got limitations, he calls his friend George to come get him telling him where he is, George takes him back to his house where he tells Stephenie everything about Jim's new powers, and she tells him about hers, she then shows Jim and the two of them feel relieved and curious, believing that if they had something happen, that means their kids might have as well, as they wonder this Stephenie remarks that the lake they crashed into looked different, she said it was glowing a bright green bioluminescence, as they wonder this, their daughter calls in a panic. Stephenie goes to get her, claiming Jim had a headache.

While sitting in the car outside of her high school, Daphne Powell, Jim and Stephenie's daughter tells her the story of how while she was confronting a girl that was after her boyfriend, she first heard her thoughts, she first brushed this off, but then in the middle of a backetball game she could hear the thoughts of everyone in the gym, the players, the couches, the refs, the spectators, everyone, she freaked out and called her parents for help, as she explains this to her mother, Stephenie smiles, tells her she believes her, and then tells her when they get home they're gonna have a family talk and explain whats going on. As they're sitting around discussing it Jim and Stephenie's son JJ points out that he hasn't had any powers surface yet, and that he's upset at that, this degrades the discussion into an argument and they all go off to do their own thing. The next day at work Jim gets an ID on the robber and gives it to his friend he saved earlier and telling her where to find an exgirlfriend that posted bail for the man 6 months earlier, offering to go with her and her partner, Jim's laughed at and told "leave the crimefighting to cops with guns.", Jim follows them anyway, and arrives just alittle to late to save his friend and her partner from getting shot in an ambush by the suspect, Jim and him have another showdown, this time the guy reveals that he can teleport, as he's teleporting around Jim as they fight, he says to him "what, did did you think you were the only one?" as he says this he's shot in the back by Jim's friend, who then tells him to leave. Afterwhich, Jim's friend George St. Cloud reveals to him that he's set up a lair for the two of them to operate out of in his garage, stating he'll be Jim's support guy. As this is happening, JJ discovers that his power is basically being a human computer, with lightening fast learning capabilities and instant mastering of anything he learns. This unites them all again, and the pilot ends with the family all in the backyard playing football together like in Jim's many flashbacks, but this time with their powers, and all enjoying themselves.

So do I think this show is gonna last? I give it at this point two seasons, normally superhero television shows start to break down thanks to the "lets do it on the cheap even though its bringing us billions" concept that has killed so many shows before hand, but the pilot leaves you wanting more, so very very much more, the very savvy comic book nerd would recognize this as basically the Fantastic Four's origin, but not in space, and fans of international television and my blog would also note this is basically an american version of The Misfits, the recent UK series with a similar concept, but with a thunderstorm that went over south London, and each person with a power getting a power they most desire, though they don't explain why or how in the pilot others can have powers, but I am sure as hell curious as to how they'll explain that. Plus the cast of this is just amazing, my hometown homeboy Michael Chiklis plays an excellent Jim Powell dispite that fact he seems to always play cops or superheroes, or in this case both, he really does so well that you just can't help but cheer him on. Julie Benz does great as Stephenie Powell in a great departure from her role on Dexter as Rita Morgan that most would recognize her as. Kay Panabaker, who's just a pheonominal young actress who's done tons of guest work (some might recognize her as the original Emily Lightman on the pilot to the series Lie To Me) does a great job as Daphene Powell, its one of those cases of the casted actor really being the age they're ment to be, which makes it more believable, and Jimmy Bennett, who most will recognize as the young James Kirk in 2009's Star Trek, but is also the current voice of Roo in the Winnie The Pooh series and also voices Rerun Van Pelt in the modern Peanuts cartoons, plays a great JJ, he looks like a kid that could see the world's given up on and just wants to slack off because of it, and brings the right amount of sarcasm to the role and the show. the secondary cast is also just as good, its really a refreshing take and look into a genre that seems to almost never be handled correctly by the average major network, truly a delight. Honestly, if you have a chance, come the fall, give it a look you won't be let down. My only real complaint would be that the title sucks, and I kind of wish they didn't use both the Superhero! and Publisher's Clearing House fonts in promotional material, but I'm nitpicky like that. Oh and also, I hate that they were able to find an original outfit Kitty Pryde with Lockheed figure and I can't seem to find one.



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