First Look, Two Takes: How Strong Is ‘No Ordinary Family’?

Julie Benz and Michael Chiklis, 'No Ordinary Family' (ABC)

Julie Benz and Michael Chiklis, 'No Ordinary Family' (ABC)

The fall TV season may be months away, but it’s never too soon to get a feel for the fresh fare coming our way. In Fancast’s First Look, Two Takes series, executive editor Matt Mitovich shares a snapshot overview of each new show, noting strengths and areas for improvement, and then invites a fellow editor to offer a second opinion.

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Time slot:
Tuesdays at 8/7c
Competition: ‘NCIS’ (CBS), ‘Glee’ (Fox), ‘The Biggest Loser’ (NBC) and ‘One Tree Hill’ (The CW)
Cast: Includes Michael Chiklis (‘The Shield’), Julie Benz (‘Dexter’) and Romany Malco (‘Weeds’)
Executive Producers: Jon Feldman (‘Tru Calling’), Greg Berlanti (‘Eli Stone’), Morgan Wandell and David Semel

The Bullet: The Powells were in fact an ordinary family… until an exotic getaway ended with their plane dunking in the Amazonian drink. After surviving that apparently supernatural “baptism,” dad Jim realizes he’s impervious, mom Stephanie discovers super-speed, and kids Daphne (played by Young Amber Tamblyn clone Kay Panabaker) and JJ exhibit special abilities of their own. Watch a preview here:

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What Works: Whereas ‘Heroes’ for too, too long fumbled with its characters not reveling in their newfound powers, ‘NOF’ jumps right in with Jim testing his mettle and Steph using her wheels to catch up on her harried life as a working mom. As policeman husband and scientist wife, Chiklis is perhaps the season’s most perfect piece of casting, while Benz is a bubbly delight. Malco effectively subs for the viewer as he cheers on his super-resilient pal, and it’s good news that Stephen Collins (‘7th Heaven’) is now a regular, playing Stephanie’s boss. The pilot boasts a cool villain, even if it gives ‘X-Men’ sufficient cause to grumble.

What Needs Work: If ever a show screamed for a mythology, it’s this one; let’s hope there’s a good one. Also, the pilot features a narrative cheat – Jim and Stephanie share their saga with an off-camera “interviewer” – that too loudly evokes ABC’s other modern ‘Family.’

Check out the full fall schedules for ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW

Take Two, from Fancast’s Julie Zied: An aqueous phosphorescence somehow gives a dull, disconnected, upper middle class family of four superhuman powers? Sure, I can totally buy that. In concept. In practice? Something deeper is missing. For starters, why is an event as monumental as a plane crash glossed over with little regard? Why are both teens written like one dimensional stereotypes? (“I don’t want new abilities. High school is hard enough as it is.”) Furthermore, is it a drama? Is it a comedy? Is it sci fi/fantasy? For a pilot seemingly so devoted to the idea of personal identity, ‘No Ordinary Family’ needs to do some soul searching.

The Fancast Forecast: Yes, ‘No Ordinary Family’ is pitted against TV’s most watched scripted series (‘NCIS’). But beyond that, if buzz builds, the competition should be easy to muscle out of the way.

Also Read Our First Looks at ‘Nikita,’ ‘Hawaii Five-O‘ and ‘Mike & Molly

Want scoop on your favorite show, from summer or fall? Send your question to and read The Big Tease every Tuesday at Fancast!

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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