No Ordinary Family

Joe Coyle 11/01/2011

Rating: 4/5

No Ordinary Family, the hit U.S show comes to the U.K this January, starring Michael Chiklis (The Shield, Fantastic Four) and Julie Benz (Dexter, Buffy The Vampire Slayer)

Jim Powell (Michael Chiklis) is facing an ordinary insignificant life in the shadow of his career focused wife Stephanie (Julie Benz). The Powell children are in the centre of their own crisis. Daphne (Jay Panabaker) is a love sick teen and J.J (Jimmy Bennett) has learning issues. The Powell family is growing apart. Communication is at an all time low.

The Powell's decide to take a holiday to Brazil which is quickly plunged into disaster when their plane crashes. All of the family are plunged by the crash into contaminated water but miraculously survive the crash which kills the pilot.

After returning from holiday the family, one by one, find they are developing special powers and try to hide them from each other. Jim is re-energized by his new powers of super strength and sets out to explore them with his friend George with very humorous consequences. Daphne is plagued by her ability to read peoples minds on top of her love issues, whilst Stephanie predictably explores her power of super speed from her scientific research background. Of all the characters J.J's story arc in the first episode allows him to become more normal to an extent as his super brain allows him to bypass his learning issues.

Much of the first episode of No Ordinary Family is an examination of family life, exploration of self and secrets that are kept within a family, and in-particular emotionality and connection within family life. Family Therapy is foregrounded by telling the story in flashback from the confines of a marriage guidance session. This gives the show an immediate back story and allows connection to the characters easily.

The tone of the show is very light and breezy, very easy to watch. Comedy is slightly under played to maintain the drama credentials of the piece. It is easy to understand why No Ordinary Family has been such a prime time hit in the States. Interesting sub plots bode well for the future of the show. Tantalising glimpses of super villains and an open ending means this show could go in any direction.

Despite all of the genre trappings of the pilot episode, No Ordinary Family has enough about it to lift it above its origins and far from being a sci-fi curiosity it is a show for the whole family to enjoy.

You can see No Ordinary Family on Tuesdays, 8pm (from Tuesday 11th January) on Watch (Sky 109 / Virgin Media 124)