After watching last night's premiere of "No Ordinary Family" I'm not sure what to make of the show. There were plenty of moments that had me engrossed in the episode, but there were just as many moments that seemed to drag on endlessly for no reason. I think the next three or four episodes will be critical for setting the tone of the show and determining whether this is a must-watch or relegated to the depths of the DVR.
Michael Chiklis was outstanding as Jim, the husband/father of the titular "family", and the best thing about the pilot episode. His genuine enthusiasm for his powers showed the kind of emotion the show needs to focus on more. All the other characters just seemed so mopey all the time, and Chiklis even went into that mode when dealing with his marital issues.
I thought the show did a good job acknowledging its comic book references directly -- having Jim insist on calling his quarter-mile jumps "bounds" was a particular highlight -- and having Jim and George (his D.A. friend) get so into the whole thing was just uplifting.
On the other hand, Julie Benz's Stephanie was a disappointment. She seemed to come straight out of the book of "Clichés for the Modern Working Woman", and the special effect used for her super-speed was kind of mediocre. I did enjoy the scene where Stephanie was running on a track and having a co-worker check her speed, and the co-worker kept asking all the kind skeptical questions regarding how super speed works. Again, when the show was up front about acknowledging, then subverting, its roots, it was good.
I haven't even mentioned the kids yet, but they were mostly forgettable teenage clichés. The less we see of them, at least when not making use of their powers (which aren't even active powers in the traditional sense), the better. In fact, if the show focuses more on the "No Ordinary" and less on the "Family", I think it can succeed. We got a glimpse of that with a super-powered criminal and shady organization behind him, and those are the storylines the show should focus on. Not family disharmony and marriage counseling.
For more coverage of the 2010-11 television season, visit the AdamReisinger.com TV Reviews home page.