No Ordinary Family: "No Ordinary Quake"
B+

No Ordinary Family: "No Ordinary Quake"

B+

No Ordinary Family

"No Ordinary Quake"

Season 1, Episode 5

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What kind of show do you want No Ordinary Family to be? I think most of us are at least a little bit disgruntled by the show as it is, but it's much easier to say how the show is going wrong then where it should be aiming to go if it goes right. I think in my ideal world, it would be a Buffy-esque examination of the modern family ideal, although with a superhero premise instead of horror. However, while Buffy has a cult following and much critical acclaim, it was hardly a massive hit, so I don't expect No Ordinary Family to go down that path.

I did think that the pilot showed that No Ordinary Family had the potential to be a Fantastic Four-style adventure series. It didn't seem to take itself too seriously, and it showed people with new superpowers having fun with those powers. The superhero fight was also well-done. I wouldn't necessarily expect the cosmic weirdness of the Fantastic Four but I did expect more balancing of big superhero moments with smaller family issues. Instead, it's felt a little more like, I don't know, Touched By An Angel with secular instead of religious powers – and maybe that's what the network wants.

No matter what kind of show you hope that No Ordinary Family becomes, I think that this week's episode should be perceived as a step in the right direction. There was much more balance between the superhero aspects of the show and the family drama. The main storyline involved an superpowered woman who escaped from GlobalTech and began robbing pharmacies for drugs to control her powers. Meanwhile, JJ simply got too competent – or brilliant – to continue hiding his powers. Now that his superbrain has been revealed, I feel like the show can relax and show the Powells start to use their powers together.

This was one of the most interesting and exciting developments in tonight's episode – in the opening, JJ sees the best leverage to dismantle a pile of rubble and points it out to Jim, whose strength was able to clear it. Later, Jim and Stephanie combine to commit some crimes, as he breaks a doorknob and she blazes in and out to get a surveillance tape. To me, seeing how the Powells negotiate challenges like this and work together seems much more interesting than a will-they/won't they about whether they use their powers.

The third major storyline in the episode involves Daphne once again misjudging her powers. It's somewhat similar to last week's (apparently forgotten) mistake with the convenience store, but this time she screws with other people's lives, instead of her own. Using her telepathy, she thinks she's ferreted out a relationship between a teacher and a friend. Twist is, it had been a relationship between the teacher and her friend's mother, and she comes damn near ruining the teacher's career by trying to do the right thing. I liked what this did for her character – she really needs a Professor X to help with these situations – but in terms of her superpower, it's a little worrisome. How exactly is she able to mindread if she can't learn the truth of the matter from scanning someone's thoughts? If this is an intentional way for the show's writers to weaken a power that could make good storytelling difficult, I'm in favor of it. But I'm concerned that her telepathy is simply going to conveniently work in whatever way the writers think it should for the story to work. It's a fine line.

In addition to JJ revealing his powers, the other big secret in the Powell household gets uncovered when Jim is forced to admit that he knows that there are other superpowered people. He has to admit it after he gets his butt kicked by the supersonic antagonist of the episode, Rebecca. She's recaptured by GlobalTech and our telekinetic villain, Watcher, who also sees Jim's face. There wasn't a great deal of superpowered combat, but there was just enough to keep things interesting after a few weeks of Jim chasing generic, faceless robbers.

All-in-all, I was satisfied by this episode, especially after three episodes of wheel-spinning. Several annoyances were resolved, none bigger than JJ's lies. The main plotline of GlobalTech's villainy was advanced, and we got some superhero action to boot. There were still a few too many monologues at the end hammering home the moral of the story, but I think we're seeing No Ordinary Family become more comfortable with itself.

Stray Thoughts:

  • “Interesting tidbit: most superheroes don't have mothers.” It's a funny line from Autumn Reeser, but it also illustrates one of the interesting things about the show – other than The Incredibles, the premise isn't exactly common.
  • Was Rebecca robbing the pharmacies for pills, or was she trying to recreate No Country For Old Men?
  • I'm trying to avoid talking about the almost uniformly ghastly commercials, but I suspect that Charlie Brown rap did very bad things to many people's childhoods.
  • “What's she gonna do if she finds out? Make me sleep on the couch?”
  • “I just wanted a job, not to be in an after-school special!”
  • The kids always seem to win the fights against the parents. I like this. I don't have kids.
  • Michael Chiklis is trying to give soulful, apologetic puppy-dog eyes far too often during No Ordinary Family. Dude, you're not Tony Leung. You're not even David Boreanaz. Tone it down a little.
  • The football coach looked...different this week. Can't put my finger on it.
  • The preview for the next episode showed Stephanie's parents coming to visit. I am not looking forward to this. At all. I definitely don't want No Ordinary Family to turn into a lazy sitcom.
  • As a pallative to the previous, Amy Acker is going to be appearing in the episode after that.
Filed Under: TV, No Ordinary Family

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