wed 30/09/2020

No Ordinary Family, UKTV Watch | reviews, news & interviews

No Ordinary Family, UKTV Watch

No Ordinary Family, UKTV Watch

The Powells become suburban superbeings

Stephanie and Jim Powell (Julie Benz and Michael Chiklis) wonder if it was something they ate

The idea of the suburban superhero isn't exactly a road not taken in the annals of TV history. We've had Heroes, Misfits, and even Ardal O'Hanlon as Thermoman in My Hero, not to mention generationally recurring stuff like Bewitched and The Bionic Woman.

The idea of the suburban superhero isn't exactly a road not taken in the annals of TV history. We've had Heroes, Misfits, and even Ardal O'Hanlon as Thermoman in My Hero, not to mention generationally recurring stuff like Bewitched and The Bionic Woman.

In No Ordinary Family, the titularly evoked Powells are the latest to join this rich heritage of the overachievers next door when they acquire mysterious powers after a trip to Brazil, having crash-landed in an Amazon swamp after their light aircraft ran into a sudden storm. Evidently there was something in the water, which has left mom, pop and their two kids each equipped with different special gifts.

Jim got baseball training machines to fire balls at him at 140mph, which he caught one-handed, while Stephanie discovered she was able to run at almost the speed of sound

The show was commissioned for a full-length American season, but this pilot episode struggled to find its natural voice. Partly it was conventional soap-ish melodrama. Jim Powell (burly Michael Chiklis, the very bad cop from The Shield as well as the rubble-clad Thing from the Fantastic Four movies) is trying to find a way to rekindle his relationship with his sickeningly photogenic wife Stephanie (Julie Benz, bouncing back after being shockingly murdered in Dexter). She's a research scientist with a booming career, her hours keep getting longer, her son and daughter are growing up without her noticing, and Jim feels their nuclear family is splitting apart like an exceedingly stressed atom.

As for himself, he reckons he's just a "failed painter" and "ineffectual police artist" (ie he draws impressions of crime suspects from witness descriptions). He intended the trip to Brazil to be a re-bonding experience, but the complete molecular makeover of the Powell clan has wildly outstripped his original prospectus.

George_smallThe programme is also a comedy, albeit in a reticent, non-hernia-threatening sort of way. A modicum of mirth was evoked in the scenes where Jim discovered that something odd had happened to him after he inadvertently stopped a bullet fired by a nutcase at the police station - "stopped" in the sense that when the bullet hit him, it crumpled like a piece of tin foil. To test the extent of his new abilities, he got baseball training machines to fire balls at him at 140mph, which he caught one-handed. Soon he was leaping 500 yards into the air and lifting 11,000lb weights.

Meanwhile, Stephanie discovered she was able to run at almost the speed of sound, and had acquired a metabolism so rapid that she could eat junk food 24/7 and never gain an ounce. Daughter Daphne had become telepathic (something of a mixed blessing when it enabled her to overhear her boyfriend thinking about sneaking off to shag her best friend), while her formerly underachieving brother JJ had suddenly developed a visionary gift for solving complex mathematical theorems.

And No Ordinary Family wants to be a thriller too. Already, Jim has begun to turn himself into an urban crime-fighter, bounding across rooftops in pursuit of felons picked out by his friend George from the DA's office (played by Romany Malco, pictured above). However, it seems the bad guys have a few secrets of their own, with one of them capable of turning himself into a puff of smoke and teleporting at will. It looks like Brazil is going to keep bouncing back onto the agenda too, since Stephanie has found a plant in the Amazon with amazing scientific properties, and there's some conspiratorial skulduggery afoot at the Global Tech organisation where she works. Come to think of it, that's really quite a lot for just one episode.

Watch the trailer for No Ordinary Family
Jim has begun to turn himself into an urban crime-fighter, bounding across rooftops in pursuit of felons

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