Sunday, August 8, 2010

Not for review: ABC's "No Ordinary Family"

"Not for review" is an occasional series of pieces in which I offer my thoughts on the pilots for this year's new shows. These are not reviews, as many of the pilots sent to press aren't final versions. Roles can be recast; scenes can be re-edited and many other changes can be made. These are simply my first impressions based on watching early versions of the shows.
The show: ABC's "No Ordinary Family"
The premise: The Powells are an ordinary family, consisting of a dad (Michael Chiklis), a mom (Julie Benz) and two kids (Kay Panabaker and Jimmy Bennett). But when their plane crashes in the Amazon River during a trip to Brazil, they all develop super powers. And weirdly, becoming an extraordinary family might just help this increasingly disconnected unit remember what it is to be a family.
My thoughts: Fans of dark superhero tales will likely be disappointed by this show. Underneath all the fantasy elements, this is really a sweet dramedy about the importance of family. But, on that level, it works very well. Chiklis was so convincing as ruthless, steel-eyed cop Vic Mackey on "The Shield," I almost forgot that he rose to prominence in more lightweight fare, like "Daddy-O" and "The Commish." He rediscovers that light touch here and is quite fun to watch. Benz is also engaging as his frazzled wife. If this show stays on track and avoids the pitfalls of other serialized sci-fi shows (hello, "Heroes!"), it could be a real rarity: a series that doesn't insult the intelligence, yet is wholesome enough to watch with the whole family.

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