I feel like now that we're 10 episodes into the first season of "No Ordinary Family", I need to stop grading it on a curve. The show is past the "feeling out phase" and by now it should be moving on to significant developments, with general storytelling improvements. Tuesday's episode, "No Ordinary Sidekick", only got some of the way there.
The episode draws its title from the dueling conflicts between Stephanie and Katie and Jim and George. In both cases, something comes between the hero and their sidekick. For Jim, it's when he stops a robbery but George gets the credit for it, and becomes too caught up in basking in the glory to recognize that there might be more to the crime. For Stephanie, the conflict arises when she finds out that "Will" (Katie's fake evil boyfriend) isn't who he says he is, and she confronts Katie with that information.
One on level, I thought the sidekick conflict story fell short because it seemed a little too convenient, even for this show, that both adult heroes would be having sidekick problems at the same time. But more than that, the story didn't pack as much punch as it should have because in both cases, the hero was right, and the sidekick didn't see it, causing Katie and George to come across as either whiny (in Katie's case) or egotistical (in George's) rather than in need of support.
However, while the one-week conflicts between the group itself were weak, this week's episode did do a significant job of advancing the ongoing conflict bubbling up between the good guys and the mysterious bad guys, with Dr. King and Will/Joshua stepping up their game. After Dr. Chiles confronted Dr. King about the serum, then brought it to Stephanie for study, Dr. King -- who is becoming a top notch bad guy -- dispatched Willshua to eliminate Dr. Chiles, using his powers to make it look like a suicide.
The conflict escalated when Wishua (yeah, I think that works) visited the Powell home, and Daphne -- who had previously been unable to read his mind -- saw his previous actions when she made physical contact with him. Flash past a painfully cliché scene of George accepting the key to the city (in a night ceremony, for some reason) and we see Jim and Stephanie talking, only to have Daphne come downstairs and say she doesn't want to go to Brazil. Only, that happened three months ago in the pilot. GASP!
Obviously the show had to do something to prevent Wishau's big secret from being revealed to the entire cast too early, but amnesia feels a little weak. And I'm hoping it won't last too long, or that we won't have to rehash Daphne's discovery of her abilities all over again, because I don't think that would make for good television. But an increased focus on Stephanie vs Dr. King would, and "No Ordinary Family" is almost there.
For more coverage of the 2010-11 television season, visit the AdamReisinger.com TV Reviews home page.