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TV Review: No Ordinary Family Fall 2010

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It’s hard to keep up with all of the television on now, especially with so much worthy of review. So with none of the new pilots this falling knocking my socks off, I decided to just let them all build up on my TiVo until I got around to them, and so I wouldn’t waste my time with those canceled quickly. As such, today was the first day I began tackling those new series, and did all ten episodes (including a rewatch of the pilot) of ABC’s No Ordinary Family in one day. Here’s my overall impression, having given myself about one hour to digest and reflect on all of the TV.

This show is pretty cheesy. So often there are things we are just supposed to overlook. For instance, in the third episode, we’re really supposed to believe that Stephanie’s (Julie Benz) engagement ring was just found at the scene of another crime, days later? Really? Or that the guys that J.J. (Jimmy Bennett) invited over for poker would just give up all that money to a kid they’re not friends with and who claimed to have never played the game so easily? Or in the same episode, two teenagers could so elegantly break into a high school to fix a sculpture? Or that Jim’s (Michael Chiklis) fire proof-ness extends to his clothing? Or that the family can afford the suddenly huge increase in budget for food and sneakers that Stephanie requires, not to mention household repairs, without hardship? There’s a lot the writers (or maybe editors) are asking us to overlook here and take for granted.

That being said, there is so much potential in this show, it drives me crazy. Here is a well defined family, with normal family issues, along with the host of new things cropping up because of their super powers. Each of the Powells is handled by a capable actor, and their family chemistry is solid. Not only that, but George (Romany Malco) and Katie (Autumn Reeser), the parents’ best friends, are also so incredibly likable, that they have become my favorite characters. This is a very talented cast put together, and they know exactly who they are playing. Whatever level of cheesiness makes it through, I still want to watch these six people, and what they are going through.

Equally impressive is Will / Joshua / The Watcher (Josh Stewart, Dirt). His creepy mystery has held my attention beautifully through ten episodes, and the more I find out about him, the more I want to know. His motivations are obviously murky, with some allegiance to his boss, Dr. King (Stephen Collins), but some also to unknown feelings. He has not revealed all he has learned about the Powells, and I do believe he may have genuine feelings for Katie, at least, I hope he does. However, I predict a King / Watcher showdown as a centerpiece in the second half of the season, if not the season finale. It’s something I greatly look forward to. And if the Watcher survives it, perhaps an upgrade to full time cast member in season two?

As far as the major arcs and plot twists, there have been some pretty good ones. J.J.’s nemesis slash math teacher, Mr. Litchfield (Jason Antoon) had an excellent run at trying to prove J.J. was a bad kid. I totally believed he would drop the issue when he did, because as much as he watched J.J., I think he knew that something extraordinary was going on, and knew who saved his life. I’ve also been really into Stephanie and Katie’s research of Dr. Volson, as well as everything that goes with that. I dig the whole back story with Dr. King and Dr. Volson, much of which has yet to be revealed. Could Dr. King be Dr. Volson? Only time will tell. Also, why is Dr. King holding on to the body of the Powell’s pilot (Tate Donovan, Damages)? The fact that the pilot was played by such a wonderful actor makes me think there are plans for him. There’s no need to waste Donovan.

I also give the show credit for a heck of a fall cliffhanger. Shortly before the closing credits, the Watcher wiped Daphne’s (Kay Panabaker) memory, going all the way back to just before she acquired her powers. The Watcher has been shown killing a number of people before this, and not all (any?) of them deserved it. But here, instead of killing, he simply wiped away some memories. Sure, it’s cruel, but it’s also a bit merciful, for him. Why did he do it, and what will the consequences of his action be? I am fully intrigued.

This series will not make any Top Television Shows list at this point, because there are still a number of bugs to work out. However, building blocks have been laid that could really prop the series into something awesome, given the right growth. I’m hoping it gets that. Soon, if it wants a second season. No Ordinary Family will return on January 4th.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com