‘No Ordinary Family’ Series Premiere Review & Discussion

Published 5 years ago by

no ordinary family series premiere No Ordinary Family Series Premiere Review & Discussion

With Heroes officially canceled, ABC attempts to fill television’s void of a superhero drama with No Ordinary Family. Centered around a subtle family drama, No Ordinary Family tells the story of the Powell family who after going on vacation and surviving a plane crash, realize that they have acquired select abilities.

In an attempt to tap into the 18-24 market while appeasing their current audience, ABC is combining a superhero storyline with a family drama – something that the network is specifically known for. As the film industry now relies heavily on superhero films to garner large audiences, television is attempting the same… while hopefully learning from the mistakes of past series of the same genre.

Will ABC be able to succeed where others have failed?

Preview (courtesy of ABC)

The Powell family must learn to deal with the super powers each has mysteriously acquired after the crash of their plane in the Amazon River. Jim discovers that he has the power of super strength and immediately feels a new sense of purpose and empowerment. With the aid of his best friend and confidant, George, he sets his sights on becoming a hero. Stephanie struggles to balance her family life with working 80 hours a week as an award-winning scientist, and after developing the power of speed, she can now move effortlessly through her daily responsibilities. Always the scientist, Stephanie immediately questions the phenomenon and, with the aid of her lab tech, Katie, the two begin to research the mystery behind the powers. For 16-year-old Daphne, she turns telepathic and hears other people’s hopes, dreams, fears and joys, whether she cares to or not. And 14-year-old JJ struggles constantly to satisfy his parents and teachers as he grapples with a learning disability and bad grades. But he suddenly finds his mental abilities strengthened to a super genius level.


For a series such as No Ordinary Family, there’s no way to present this type of show without the comparison to Heroes. While it’s a fair comparison at first, No Ordinary Family attempts to separate itself from such parallels by blending a typical superhero story with a family drama. Admittedly, at first glance, this doesn’t sound like an interesting prospect as viewers have become accustom to cheap ploys from the network attempting to cash in on today’s milieu.

no ordinary family premiere family No Ordinary Family Series Premiere Review & Discussion

Fortunately, No Ordinary Family has found a perfect balance between these two genres. Although, I can’t deny that the superhero aspect of this series is the most interesting. That being said, the family drama portions aren’t so heavy handed and often pertain to the superhero side as well. So, even if you’re not a fan of family togetherness, each scene of that nature more or less propels the story to the next superhero feat.

Of course, not every aspect of the superhero storyline works – namely the origin of the family’s powers. Although, to the credit of the producers, they attempt to quickly move on past the horribly conceived power origins and by the time the pilot reaches the 7-minute mark, the family is ready to start their journey of discovering their powers.

Each of the powers gained are directly related to the weaknesses present in each of the character’s lives. Jim Powell, who is unhappy with the direction in which is life is headed, receives super-strength. Stephanie Powell, struggling to keep up with her hectic schedule and inability to spend quality time with her family, gains super-speed. Daphne Powell, unable to understand the expectations of those around her, becomes telepathic. JJ Powell, the youngest member of the family who’s struggling to comprehend simple school arithmetic, becomes super intelligent.

no ordinary family premiere takedown No Ordinary Family Series Premiere Review & Discussion

While initially the power correlations feels a bit tongue-in-cheek, the characters newfound abilities really help progress their individual storylines while giving a natural sense of reality when the characters explore their enhanced dexterity. In many aspects, No Ordinary family represents what the typical person would attempt if he/she were to receive superpowers.

Like any great superhero story, the intrigue comes from not only the abilities of each character, but also their weaknesses. As fans of Heroes have previously witnessed, over-powered characters (Sylar) can be entertaining at first, but eventually those weighted personalities become stale as it is almost impossible to provide the rich character development that viewers now look for.

With that, we soon find out that Jim Powell is nowhere near as strong, or as invincible, as he originally thought. Sure, he can lift 11,000lbs and jump a quarter of a mile in any direction, but after the humble police sketch artist begins moonlighting as real-life superhero, the truth sets in as a shot to the back of the head forces him to call for help. As for Stephanie, while she can run at 485 miles per hour, doing so burns up a lot of calories. So, in a sense, she has to continuously nourish herself or else the use of her powers will quickly kill her. No weaknesses have been revealed to the powers of the kids, yet.

no ordinary family premiere talk No Ordinary Family Series Premiere Review & Discussion

Refreshingly, the members of the newly dubbed “no ordinary family” don’t shield their abilities from those around them. While they’re far from “shouting from the rooftops,” they do confide in select members of their inner circle (as anyone would do) in an attempt to better understand the true extent of their power. Jim has his best friend, who ultimately builds him a secret lair (with wi-fi) and Stephanie has her assistant who, while provide accurate calculations of her speed, can also help in the discovery of why this is happening to them.

As with any superhero series, there’s always a twist – an antagonist, per se. In that, we find out the Powell’s aren’t the only ones with abilities. It’s not like Heroes though, where everyone has superpowers, but we are briefly introduced to a new character who has the abilities of Nightcrawler from the X-Men. While his appearance is unfortunately brief, he does serve to enlighten Jim that “something is going on.”

In the original pilot for this series, the episode ends soon after, but upon watching the finished, final air version, it appears that they tacked on an “interesting” sub-plot. As the episode comes to a close, we find out that the Nightcrawler-esque character works for Stephanie’s boss, Dr. Dayton King. On some level, I understand that they’re attempting to hook viewers and keep them tuning in, but this final scene feels cheap and the “amazing revelation” is completely convoluted.

no ordinary family premier friend No Ordinary Family Series Premiere Review & Discussion

In a sense, many aspects of No Ordinary Family can be considered convoluted, but they don’t take away from the core elements of the series. Sure, Stephanie Powell being a high-level scientist is a bit “on-the-nose” as the family gains superpowers, but it’s only an element of the series. Although, with the newly introduced ending and subplot, I’m not sure if I feel as strongly for No Ordinary Family as I once did.

Final Thoughts

With an extremely talented cast, entertaining story-arc and realistic character development, No Ordinary Family and ABC accomplished what NBC and Heroes haven’t been able to do for the past 3 years – produce an entertaining superhero drama that will have viewers tuning in week-after-week. Although, with the newlyfound ending and sub-plot, I’m not sure if that intrigue will last.


No Ordinary Family airs Tuesday’s @8pm, on ABC

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  1. Good review Ocasio,

    I’ll watch this when I have time later in the week.

  2. I have to say, I really didn’t like the first episode. I thought it went too fast and the characters were boring. I liked the first episode of Heroes waaay more.

    • The first season of Heroes was pretty solid, but probably should have ended with the first season finale.

      • what they shoulda done with Heroes was make it a season long mini series, like Kingdom Hospital

        • I disagree Anthony what they should of done with heroes was learn how to write a good scripts for more than one season. It had the potential to be a great series that could go on for years. instead the writers didn’t know what they were doing. They had 3 different ideas for season 2 and didn’t decide what they were doing with it till the last minute and literally wrote episodes at the last second. The crafted complex stories on the fly and never knew where they were going with each season until it aired.

  3. I only saw the pre-air, but I will surely tune in next week.

  4. Not sure how I feel about this series. The first ep was so-so and a bit predictable. I expected an antagonist in it and the comparison to HEROES was all so evident. I’ll give it a month.

  5. I haven’t watched a TV show on TV since Smallville on Friday. lol. I’ll have to go to hulu tomorrow :)

  6. I really, really, really didn’t like this show. I thought the writing was super cheesy and, while I like Michael Chiklis and thought he did an okay job, I really don’t believe in the dynamic between the family members. The teenage girl and boy characters are just annoying. The wife’s position as some super scientist is not believable and is clearly just a plot device to introduce the bad guy in the series.

    If it seems like I’m being overly harsh, well, what can I say? The show was just plain boring and not at all what I had hoped for. It really just made me want to watch The Incredibles, a vastly superior look at a family of superheroes who have “ordinary” problems.

  7. They attempted to make it family-friendly, which can very easily slip into cheesy (which this episode did), but on the other hand they put in stuff like “whore” and talk about sex and a best friend sleeping with the daughter’s boyfriend.

    I don’t know that I’ll stick with it or that it’ll even last that long.


    • i think i’ll go back to ol’ faithful NCIS…wasnt what i was expecting Vic.

    • I agree completely with you Vic!
      The writing was terrible. The characters are not interesting as people and the teenage daughter was annoying and lame.

      At 8pm, I assumed the show would be family friendly but with “lame-ass”, “whore”, and the teenage sex dialog, we turned off the TV.

      All in all, no ordinary family was an extra-ordinary dissappointment.

      • I totally agree with you guys. (I think it was “dumbass”, rather than “lameass”.) I scowled at that, as my wife and I were trying to watch it with our 9-yr old and 7-yr old. Figured it’d be family friendly at that hour, but when we heard “whore” we turned it off. Seriously, who is the target audience for this? Not serious enough to be for adults, not friendly enough to be for kids/families. I do not understand.

  8. Why does Michael Chiklis’s character have such a hot wife?

    • Alex,

      It’s a TV show tradition to pair up a dumpy guy with a hot wife. Look at most any sitcom from the past 10 years.


      • Yes yes, I know. I just kept thinking about that when I was watching the show. She’s supposed to be this beautiful, hard-working, driven, prepared woman and she’s married to this lazy, ugly, male mom. I don’t know.

      • Honestly though Vic it happens alot in real life as well.

        Also I was shocked to find out that Chiklis actually has a large amount of female fans salivating over him. It’s odd. I think the big attraction for him is less about looks and more about his bad boy attitude on The Shield.

        • Not so sure about that. He had those kinds of fans when we was on “The Commish” (ie. before The Sheild).

  9. Why couldnt it just be a family dealing with Superpowers?

    • that woulda been too simple

  10. Jeeze…where to begin? I was hoping this show would have some kind of original, interest provoking process, but on the whole (even though I do like the concept…), I think it would have been better served if the powers (abilities) had been manifested in small increments over the course of the first six episodes or so. This seemed rushed and poorly thought out by the *cough* “writers”. The only thing I came away with from this premier was a better idea of how to handle the whole “I was normal, but now I have abilities” thing…Dr.Sam Becket (sorry if I misspelled your handle…), if you are reading this, we need to talk. I write screenplays and novels as well and I have a whale of a pitch for you to contemplate if you would be interested…
    Anyhow, I don’t see a real bright future for this show unless it gets serious about the ENTIRE story arc instead of attempting to frieght train through my living room in the course of one short hour…pity.

  11. “It’s not like Heroes though, where everyone has superpowers.”

    Exactly the thought I had after watching it.

    I thought the show was alright. But, I really liked Heroes when it started too. However I felt like that show was drowning in characters. So many people with so many powers… Then they started giving powers to the few characters that didn’t start with any, Like Saresh and Ando. lol There was just too many people in Heroes period. So much so that there might have been an entire episode where Hiro, or Claire never even made an appearance.

    I think this show will benefit from having far fewer characters with powers. (at least as far as the good guys go.)

  12. I enjoyed it for what it was, a simple straight forward show. I agree about not understanding the swearing and sex talk. It even seemed awkward for the characters who spoke about it. I’ll give it one more week but if they keep it up I won’t be able to let my daughter keep watching it.

  13. I liked it. A good, entertaining hour of TV. I guess no one here thinks that teens talk about sex or swear?? You want a FAMILY drama with teens, then those things are going to happen. I hope that this show fulfills its promis. It definitely reminded me of The Incredibles, though. And that is not a bad thing.

    • Sure, teens can talk about sex. But, do you think teens are interested in watching this show? I don’t. And I’m not ready for my 9-yr old daughter to learn the word “whore”. I’m all for realism in shows for adults, but it’d be nice to have a few “clean” shows left for me to watch with my younger kids. As this show was on at 8pm(7 central) and seemed targeted at kids and/or families, I really did not expect them to be using words like “whore”.

  14. This show will be cancelled. Believe. I mean really Did they expect this to be a hit???

  15. A family ? why the HELL a family?

  16. I thought it was OK. I found myself comparing it to the Incredibles instead of Heroes. However I wish it was more like the Incredibles. That was a great movie.

  17. Life is really too short to waste on bad tv like this…

    Oh look its Rita from Dexter,,, Rita who killed you?

    Looks like Disney/ABc did. 8-)

    • Ha ha

      I don’t see Rita I see Darla. I loved Darla. Especially when she came back from the dead on Angel.

  18. The show was OK need something to feed the Heroes withdrawal. But how come the black is always the side kick with no powers.

  19. Why the hell couldnt they just make a Live Action Justice League show?
    The Dad = Superman (Super Strength)
    The Wife = The Flash (Super Speed)
    The Son = uhh Batman? (The Brains)
    The Daughter = Martian Manhunter? (Psychic Abilities)

  20. I love Chiklis he is an amazing actor and Julie Benz is a terrific actress. I want to like this show I really do especially since it also includes super powers. I haven’t watched it yet, but I’m afraid. I’m afraid it won’t be serious enough and will be to family friendly. I’m an adult male who doesn’t watch TV with a child. I have no interest in overly family friendly television.

  21. i dont like the powers

  22. This show was terrible. The characters should have died in the crash. I give it about 2 weeks and it is OVER!

  23. It’s pretty much the Fantastic Four without money. Speaking of which, wouldn’t the first thing you’d do is use the powers to make yourself filthy rich? Of course then it wouldn’t be a story about an average family.

  24. It’s better every week.

    The first one can be a drinking game. Bottoms-up every time the word “family” is used within the family, to define the family. I thought it was blatant and obvious, as Anthony wrote, that the powers were related to character deficits. Maybe it’s good that no one within the story realized this and pointed it out!

    This week the show seemed to transition to more “adult” territory. I’m intrigued by the continual difficulty and moral grey area regarding using powers, looking for trouble, revealing the powers, how obligated are they to use them, how responsible are they, rather, to stay out of danger for the sake of the family, and what about the “cheat” factor? I also like that each of them are finding that these powers can be unwanted. Bless the writers for tackling the calorie consumption, what kind of shoes, and showing the mother using her powers to speed things up *around the house*!

    I’m glad the son is finally up front, and I liked the dynamic between “mother’s intuition” and father believing his son. I shudder to sense similarities to Heroes’ “The Company.” And does anyone think that scientist is really dead?