One of the more anticipated new shows this fall is No Ordinary Family, premiering tonight on ABC (Tuesdays, 8/7c). It's a lighthearted drama that lives up to its title not only because of the obvious—Mom, Dad, and two teenage kids have superpowers—but because of a trait much rarer, at least on primetime network television: genuine familial love. They really do care for each other.
Sure, they have issues, squabbles, and some of the snark expected from a TV family, especially with two teens and good writers (including Darren Swimmer and Todd Slavkin of Smallville) who appreciate snappy dialogue. But judging from the pilot and from buzz we have heard, the Powells try hard to connect with each other in a fast-paced world pushing and pulling from all sides.
In the pilot, Jim (Michael Chiklis of The Shield and The Fantastic Four) laments the loss of family closeness as wife Stephanie (Julie Benz) and children—daughter Daphne and son J. J.—get more absorbed in their own worlds: Stephanie, with her 80-hour work weeks, Daphne, with her social circles, and J. J., with his academic struggles. "My marriage, my kids, my life were slowly slipping away from me," Jim says in a voiceover. In an effort to bring them together, he plans a vacation to Brazil. Their plane crashes in the Amazon River, but the family survives—and it's not long before they realize that each has acquired a superpower. Must have been something in the water.
In a wink-wink understatement, Jim says the crash—and resulting abilities—sparked "a new beginning" for the Powells. Tellingly, each family member's superpower represents just what they needed, the opposite of their weakness. Jim felt impotent to do anything about his family; ...1
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No Ordinary Family
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