Every network thinks they have the next hit show coming out in the Fall – but in reality only a few actually have a shot at making it past season 1. However, if the fall TV line-up was a high school, then ABC’s superhero family drama, No Ordinary Family, would be voted “Most Likely to Succeed.”
No Ordinary Family could have been one of those pilots that, by all accounts, came-off as a lame, unfunny, unoriginal, and uninspired attempt at a dramedy. But as I watched the pilot, I found myself falling in love with the show – as well as anticipating future episodes.
It’s true the show doesn’t have the most original premise. We’ve all seen superhero families work together to stop bad guys (The Incredibles) and just about everyone should now be familiar with the Fantastic Four – as well as the mysterious unknown light that gave them their powers.
In all honestly, the powers aren’t that original either – Jim Powell (Michael Chiklis) has strength and virtual indestructibly, Stephanie Powell (Julie Benz of Dexter) has speed, Daphne Powell (Kay Panabaker) can read minds and hear thoughts, and JJ Powell (Jimmy Bennett) is super intelligent and can perform complex mathematical operations in his head.
With so many hot comic-book properties these days, there are very few new super power ideas to draw from. As a result, it’s easy to see how super-hero writers and creators might be running out of ideas (unless you want to see a man whose only power is the ability to turn magazine pages with his mind).
However, despite a familiar premise, the execution of the show is ultimately very successful.
I got a chance to talk to producer Marc Guggenheim and asked him about using the traditional super powers – while still keeping the show fresh. Guggenheim had this to say:
“It was something we initially struggled with. If we gave them original powers then the show would be more about those powers instead of how they [the Powells] chose to interact with each other and society with their powers. What we decided to do was give the powers that matched or were opposite of their personalities. Jim [Powell] is a police officer that wants to protect his family and his city from bad guys but the frailty of the human body always kept him from jumping into the fray; while Stephanie [Powell] always feels like she can’t keep up with the world around her and would like to do things faster.”
I like where Guggenheim, and creators Greg Berlanti (Green Lantern) and Jon Harmon Feldman (Tru Calling), are going with No Ordinary Family – and if they stay on task I think the show could carry us through quite a few seasons.
I asked Michael Chiklis what made this family of superheroes better than his first, the Fantastic Four, he responded:
“When I first read the script [for No Ordinary Family], I noticed immediately that the family took to using their powers. There wasn’t any of this ‘should I or shouldn’t I’ nonsense that drives me crazy in some typical superhero stories. For the most part the Powell’s quickly accept their new powers, with the notable reluctance of the kids but that plays into the story line well, and from the very beginning we get to see what can happen if an ordinary family were to get super powers.”
That is indeed what I gathered from my viewing of No Ordinary Family and unlike the characters featured in NBC’s Heroes, who spent the majority of the first two seasons complaining about having super-powers, Family relishes in it – and plays it up big for the audience. I think that alone is enough to give this show a real chance come Fall.
If you haven’t had a chance to watch the No Ordinary Family promo, check it out below:
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No Ordinary Family airs on ABC starting Tuesday September 28th, 2010 at 8/7 Central.