Like one of the other TV shows I’ve reviewed ‘The Tomorrow People’ this show dealt with people with superpowers and was sadly cancelled before it should have been but other than that they’re a very different breed from each other.
It seems Michael Chiklis really likes to smash he was a strong and gruff breaker of things in this, Fantastic four (the good one) and most recently as Nathaniel Barnes in Gotham. But despite the fear he might be being typecast he did really well in this role and was a strong character in more ways than one.
I feel like this started out as a live action version of the incredibles and they just kept changing details till it was different enough. A bit like a college student who copied of Wikipedia and kept rewriting to avoid getting caught plagiarising. Not that I’m complaining the formula works really well and then entire family have a very real dynamic to them.
No Ordinary Family follows the Powells (wow that’s close to powers) who feeling disconnected as a family decide to go on holiday together. While flying through the Amazon their plane encounters a storm and crashes and are exposed to a bizarre form of plant life which grants them special abilities.
It’s only once they return home that they discover their abilities and are forced to reconcile their ordinary lives with their extraordinary powers.
I was surprised that they didn’t make Chiklis’s character Jim Powell a cop especially after his role on the Shield. Instead they went a different way with it and made him a sketch artist instead. Still showing his interest in crime fighting (which explains why when he gets his powers the first thing he does is become a vigilante) but keeping him out of it for the lost part until he gets his powers.
Overall I don’t think they made a single misstep with the casting we have a kind of ‘Flintstones’ thing going on with Chiklis and his character’s wife Dr Stephanie Powell (Julie Benz) we have an average looking man with a ridiculously attractive wife. Still unlike most of the times we see this trope he’s not some meathead who doesn’t deserve her. On her own she’s a strong character as well, obsessed with being the best and getting everything done she developed super speed so that she has time to get everything done. We have the obligatory moody teenage daughter Daphne Powell (Kay Panabaker) who hides behind her stroppiness to avoid dealing with things like relationships and feeling distant from her family this gave her the power of telepathy. I don’t know a teenager who wouldn’t want this power so they could know what people really think of them but she’s doesn’t and it surprisingly mature about her abilities. Finally rounding out the main cast we have JJ Powell (Jimmy Bennett) who is perhaps my favourite character (probably because I see myself in him) before getting his powers it’s implied he might have a mild learning disability because he claims that no matter how hard he tries he can get to grips with his school work and as and result feels like a disappointment to his family in particular his mother (A doctor) so when his power reveals itself (in intuitive and highly advanced intellect which allows him to not only master concepts which boggle him but also do things like learn new languages in a matter of hours) he initially keeps it a secret to he can enjoy his parents showing pride in him for his sudden academic success.
As for the secondary cast we have Katie Andrews (Autumn Reeser) who plays Stephanie’s lab assistant and her confidante once she discovers her boss’s superhuman ability. She’s nerdy and adorable and reminds he a lot of Felicity Smoak from Arrow. And George St Cloud (Romany Malco) a district attorney and Jim’s best friend and confidante. If No ordinary Family is incredibles and as I mentioned it has some similarities then George is probably Frozone. He finds out about his best friends ability and despite being concerned for his friends safety operates a crime fighting headquarters ‘the Lair’ out of his garage to help Jim in his role as a vigilante
As for villains we have Dr Dayton King (Stephen Collins) he’s Stephanie’s boss and as it turns out the ultimate villain of the series. Despite being willing to kill or at least have people killed I think the most evil thing he did was use his ‘adoptive’ son for his own ends. He got his comeuppance though when he was cured of his own power which caused cancer to ravage his body and kill him. Finally we have ‘The Watcher’ (Josh Stewart) who is a villain but only really because of circumstance. Originally he was a henchman for Dr King who served as the main superpowered foil for the Powell and he was not above killing but slowly we learn that he doesn’t have much choice. His powers are temporary and without regular injections he’ll lose his abilities and begin to die. He’s quite powerful capable telepathy and telekinesis.
Okay I spent a little longer than I’d meant to talking about the characters but the characters are one of the strongest parts of the show and it’s worth mentioning that I feel the casting did a lot for the show.
Despite a good story with writers who cut their teeth on shows like Chuck and Smallville to and as I’ve mentioned a talented cast who work well together the show was met with a lukewarm reception with viewers dropping off like flies after an admittedly strong opening episode.
The show is a lot of drama and a lot of comedy like every good family show all wrapped up in a science fiction bow which shows that even when you can break the sound barrier in heels or take a bullet point blank then punch the shooter higher than a skyscraper you can’t solve family issues with anything but time and willingness to work on it.
I liked this show so much. I mean it took me forever to get around to watching it but when I did I devoured it in a few days and I was genuinely hooked. I wish there was more because I feel like the Powells had a lot more to offer.
First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org