Saturday, October 2, 2010

Pilot Review: No Ordinary Family

No Ordinary Family (ABC)
Premiered September 28 at 8pm

The latest new series from ABC actually has a lot in common with the best new show the Alphabet produced last season, and the similarity extends to more than just the name. Like “Modern Family,” this season’s new superhero drama is show that can be enjoyed by the whole family. It’s a relatable story that enhances its plot by giving its characters superpowers through which to express themselves. It’s also reminiscent of the Fantastic Four, though this family is a whole lot more ordinary to begin with, as both parents work jobs and the kids are still in school. When all is said and done, however, this is an enormously entertaining series that should be able to remain quite entertaining for a while. It has strong characters and talented actors playing them, and there’s more than enough able support on the sidelines for the two leads. Michael Chiklis can never top the work he did on “The Shield,” but having him play a nice guy who doesn’t press people’s faces against lit stovetops should work well for him, and he’s extremely endearing and sympathetic in the pilot. Julie Benz was a hated character on “Dexter,” and having her here as a less whiny, more productive mother should also be great. Helping them out are Romany Malco, formerly of “Weeds,” and the lovely and funny Autumn Reeser, recently seen on “Entourage” and “Human Target” after starting out in the third season of “The O.C.,” and both make the very most of their limited roles. Kay Panabaker is great as the teenage daughter, and Jimmy Bennett seems like a strong choice to play the younger, less intelligent son. In addition to trying to establish a great, intriguing family dynamic, the show also knows when to insert some comic-book awesomeness, as evidenced by the last-minute revelation that the wife’s boss, played by Stephen Collins of “7th Heaven” fame, is involved in some major and mysterious criminal activities. I’m hooked at this point, and I’m hoping that successive installments can be just as fun as this hour.

How will it work as a series? Some might find it too hokey, but it’s important to remember than this is only an introductory episode, and therefore it should become more normalized and calm once the characters have a handle on their respective powers. It’s unclear at this point what kind of audience this show is supposed to appeal to, and if the villains feel too dumbed down, some might be annoyed with the show. I have faith that it should prove entertaining for all ages.
How long will it last? Theoretically, a while. The problem is that it’s up against two massive ratings juggernauts: “NCIS” and “Glee.” Still, ABC’s other dramas, like “The Whole Truth” and “My Generation,” will likely fare worse in their respective timeslots, and this show may be the one that has ABC’s backing this year. I imagine that it will make it to a second season, though possibly not right away unless it becomes a certifiable hit.

Pilot grade: B+

1 comment:

Richter Scale said...

I read that the ratings for this show were actually quite strong, and increased every quarter hour, so it could be fine. I finally watched the pilot (being in Jerusalem for the semester, I can't watch any shows live, so I have to catch up to them later online) and this is one of the few pilots that peaked my interest (I'm also watching a lot of shows from last year, so time is also a factor). I think this one's a keeper. It has clever writing, great characters, and a nice pace that keeps the audience entertained. It's also created by Greg Berlanti, who was responsible for Everwood (still, one of my all-time favorite shows), Jack & Bobby (which should have been given more of a chance) and Brother and Sisters. All shows deal with dysfunctional family dynamics, so that's something I'm very interested in seeing how it plays out (and the superpowers should add plenty to that). I'm psyched for this one.