Since NBC finally canceled ‘Heroes‘, ABC is now trying to fill the primetime superhero void with its new comic-themed adventure series ‘No Ordinary Family’. Even the title is utterly generic, isn’t it?
What a waste of a cast, too. Michael Chiklis spent seven years as TV’s ultimate badass on ‘The Shield’, but he made the mistake of cashing a paycheck in those awful ‘Fantastic Four‘ movies, so that’s how he’s being typecast. Julie Benz was so deliciously evil on ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, and spent a few years on ‘Dexter‘, one of TV’s edgiest current series. Now this is what they’re stuck in. I hope it pays well.
I’m not going to bother with too much of a plot recap. You could easily put the whole thing together from the 30-second TV spots. If you’ve ever read a comic book in your life, or watched any other movie or TV series on the superhero theme, then you’ve already seen this all before.
Chiklis and Benz are the parents of two precious teenagers. They’re a cutesy “dysfunctional” family. I put that word in scare quotes because their dysfunction comes down to mom being too good at her job, dad spending too much time caring for his kids, and the teens having the most superficial of typical teenage angst issues.
Dad feels that they really need a big bonding experience, so he plans a family vacation to Brazil. A plane ride over the rainforest ends in disaster when a storm causes them to crash into a river with weird glowing stuff floating in it. Everyone survives (except the pilot), but when they get back home, they start noticing that they suddenly have superpowers. Dad is really strong, can catch bullets, and can leap tall buildings. Mom runs really fast like The Flash. The daughter can read minds. At first, it looks like their dummy son didn’t get any powers, until he miraculously turns super-smart. (Actually, he’s still pretty dense, but the answers to anything he needs to know are magically spelled out for him.)
What do you do when you get superpowers? You try to fight crime, right? The ‘Pilot’ episode is the origin story, so a lot of time is spent with the members of the family exploring their new abilities. Then Dad tries to capture a bad guy who’s been running all over town robbing banks or something while wearing an Obama mask. (Is this supposed to be some sort of half-assed political statement?)
Ooooh, shocking twist: The bad guy has superpowers too. He can teleport around just like Nightcrawler in the ‘X-Men‘ movies. (Literally, it’s the exact same visual effect.) Oh, and Mom’s boss at the research lab where she works (Stephen Collins) is evil.
Honestly, there’s not a single surprising or unpredictable moment in the episode. The only thing that distinguishes this show from other superhero fare (like, for example, the first season of ‘Heroes’) is its extremely family-friendly slant. The network clearly wants parents to watch this with their kids. Really young kids, presumably. It’s aimed at the kind of families who thought that ‘The Incredibles’ was far too edgy for their delicate sensibilities, and needed something a lot safer and more familiar.
Maybe that audience will actually enjoy this. I won’t begrudge them that. Parents need something to watch with young kids, I suppose. But I don’t have kids, and this show just isn’t for me. This is a one-and-done, as far as I’m concerned.