Pilot Review: No Ordinary Family

A ‘regular’ family have grown apart so take a holiday to try to reconnect with each other. Then their plane crashes and they end up in a sparkly lake. They return home and gradually each begin to demonstrate exciting new super powers. Will what makes them different from everyone else now bring them all together?

Straight off the bat – the whole superheroes thing – kinda done to death. Family of superheroes? Not exactly original either. Just about every aspect of the plot of this has been done before. Even the superpowers themselves aren’t new or exciting, ooo superspeed, where haven’t we seen that before?

Then there’s the family angles. Mum is working too hard and has no time for her family, dad is feeling left behind, daughter has boyfriend troubles and spends her life texting and little brother is… well bottom of the pecking order. Yup, still more of the same. Then there’s some hints of evil corporations, a couple of spunky sidekicks and some hand-wavy science. It’s really kind of eye-rollingly standard.

Bits of it though is actually pretty entertaining. Michael Chiklis (The Shield) and Julie Benz (Dexter and Angel) are really likeable actors, and while their chemistry didn’t blow me away, it was certainly convincing as two people who aren’t connecting quite right at the moment, but really want to. The sidekicks are pretty entertaining, stealing some of the best lines of the show largely thanks to the fact that they can just have FUN and not have to deal with the soap opera ‘issues’ that the family are lumbered with.

The dialogue in the above trailer is representative and pretty awful, but some of the throwaway dialogue is actually a lot stronger, when they’re not laying on the angst with a shovel there’s some funny lines and banter going on. When they’re not desperately trying to connect, there’s some nice little quiet moments of family-ness. It’s also relatively well directed, although clearly with some budget issues when it comes to faking the special effects. It’s bright and colourful, makes good use of locations (my scientist house-mate was particularly impressed with the real looking labs and I for one liked the rooftops). It was surprisingly light, airy and spacious.

I wanted to like this, I wanted it to have all the fun of the superpowers without the angst of destinies and having to save the world (or a cheerleader). When the pilot was focusing on the exploration of the superpowers, that was fun, but as soon as it actually worked stuff out, or switched to the angsty family stuff, I lost interest and found myself laughing at the cheesy dialogue for all the wrong reasons. The problem is that No Ordinary Family is actually very Ordinary, superpowers may be exceptional to them, but to us this just comes across as The Incredibles mushed together with Heroes.

The pilot suffered a bit from ‘trying too hard’ syndrome, everyone seemed very tense. I think it just needs to lighten up a bit and it could be an entertaining, though largely disposable show that’s fun to sit and watch over dinner. I’ll give it a few more episodes to see where it goes.

Reviews
TV Squad – Still, the biggest problem with ‘No Ordinary Family’ isn’t necessarily its plodding plot or its by-the-book characters, it’s that the show doesn’t allow viewers to discover anything for themselves. Every theme is telegraphed, if not communicated in capital letters.

CliqueClack – I found No Ordinary Family refreshing, like taking a hit of oxygen in the smoggiest part of the day… No Ordinary Family may be “family-friendly” fare and a “feel-good” dramedy, but I ask you, what’s so wrong with that?

Links: Official site, Wikipedia, imdb, tv.com

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  1. September 3rd, 2011
    Trackback from : Narrative Devices
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