September 29th, 2010
12:57 PM ET
[Editor's note: You know the drill by now. If you haven't watched the premiere of "No Ordinary Family," stop reading now.]
I could tell you that ABC's superhero fantasy "No Ordinary Family" premiered Tuesday night... but you know, that's not a completely accurate description.
And to call "No Ordinary Family" ABC's new crime drama isn't entirely accurate either. Perhaps we could describe it as, "ABC's light family show."
But really, "No Ordinary Family" - starring Michael Chiklis and Julie Benz as the heads of a superpowered household - is all of the above. Points to TV vets Greg Berlanti and Jon Harmon Feldman for creating a show that's trying to reach as broad an audience as possible. At the same time, that also makes it difficult to get a read on it.
The superheroic stuff is pretty much "been there, done that." Benz's Stephanie can run really, really fast, which is great news for her metabolism, as her co-worker Katie points out (though viewers of the 1990 "The Flash" series will recall all of that, including the scene where she runs around the track at lightning speed).
Daughter Daphne can hear people's thoughts, which is a really creepy power to have ("Heroes'" Matt Parkman and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" have covered that ground before). Son J.J.'s power appears to be exactly like that of Russell Crowe in "A Beautiful Mind." Chiklis' Jim can leap tall buildings in a single bound, plus he's nigh-invulnerable, which was the most effective power to see onscreen (no need to point out where we've seen that).
Chiklis also delivered the best performance so far, and he has the most interesting character (who also ends up briefly facing off against someone else with powers). He's stuck in a desk job with the police force, and it turns out he's far more valuable at fighting crime than those who are hitting the streets. His enthusiasm over his new powers, along with his friend George ("40 Year Old Virgin's" Romany Malco), is the most exciting part of the show.
The most interesting thing about Benz is not her character but what's going on around her, including the fact that her boss is secretly the series' main villain (the casting of "7th Heaven's" Stephen Collins in this role is inspired).
The teens have normal angsty teen problems, and their powers are used to help with that, but that's nothing particularly original either.
There are elements of a good show here, but so far they haven't come together. Hopefully "No Ordinary Family" can find an identity soon, especially considering the fact that its main competition is "Glee."
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