It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, wait, it’s just the Powells, the less-than-original family of superheroes on this year’s token supernatural show “No Ordinary Family.”
“No Ordinary Family”
Tuesdays at 8 p.m.
ABC’s new spin on the family show takes the idea of “The Incredibles” and tries to make it more realistic. Instead of trying to save the world, the Powells use their powers to solve “real life” issues. Unfortunately, this mix of dreadfully normal problems and supernatural abilities is just downright obnoxious.
The biggest issue with the Powell family is their lack of variation. The family too closely resembles the standard families of many TV dramas, which nowadays doesn’t feel real for many viewers. Mom (Julie Benz, “Dexter”) is a successful, smart and beautiful scientist solving the all the world’s problems, Dad (Michael Chiklis, “The Shield”) works for the local police station but also loves being at home, daughter Daphne (Kay Panabaker, “Fame”) is the semi-popular girl at school with the cute boyfriend and JJ (Jimmy Bennett, “Orphan”) is the lazy son who has a learning disability. Conveniently, the family has lots of money and doesn’t seem to have a care in the world, other than trying to spend more time together. “No Ordinary Family” is almost too normal to be real.
Though the characters aren’t inventive, “No Ordinary Family” has a great cast of actors for the main roles — the show’s saving graces. Chiklis plays a convincing family-man-turned-superhero, with a teddy bear build that makes him both threatening and loveable. Benz once again picks up the role of the overworked mom who is neurotic but loving, suggesting that this is the only character she can play. Panabaker portrays the perfect bratty teenage drama queen with her cute looks, and Bennett is equally effective. Chiklis also narrates much of the show, sounding like Danny DeVito in “Matilda” ― endearing and easy to listen to.
Despite the stellar casting, it’s just all too convenient that the powers the family gains are ones that will magically help them navigate the “issues” in their lives. Mom transforms into a super speedy human, so she can fit everything she needs to do into one day. Dad acquires super strength and injury immunity, allowing him to better fight crime at his police job. Daphne develops the ability to read minds, helping her navigate the difficult world of high school. And JJ is suddenly incredibly smart, allowing him to overcome his learning disability. The family is already somewhat formulaic, but add in the fact that they get equally typical powers and it’s just a fiasco of stock characters with well worn means of solving their issues.
Unfortunately for the Powell family, their lives as superheroes are more annoying than anything else. The whole fun of watching superheroes save the world from evil monsters is completely lost with this self-absorbed family who can’t seem to escape their little bubble of a world.