For those that haven't been watching "No Ordinary Family" since the beginning, Tuesday's episode, "No Ordinary Friends", may have worked as a decent introduction to the show, but for those of us who've been watching all along, it felt like a step back.
The show opened with the aftermath of the fall cliffhanger, and the Powells trying to figure out how to fill in Daphne's memory (the last two months of which had been wiped by Katie's pseudo-boyfriend, The Watcher). Rather than using that incident for dramatic effect, the show gave Daphne a quickie-memory-fill-in via some contact-induced montage, which was an incredibly disappointing cop-out resolution to what had been a glimpse into the show's darker potential.
The rest of the episode played out very tepidly, with the Powells' new family friends, the Cotten family, affecting each member of the family in a different way. Dave, the father, was the prime suspect in a series of art thefts that Jim was investigating, but it turned out that the criminal was really Dave's wife, who'd gotten close with Stephanie. Meanwhile the Cotten daughter got Daphne to run for school president and their son tricked JJ into manning up to impress his girlfriend.
The two latter stories, involving the children, were incredibly weak and seemed more suited for an ABC Family show than one that's on ABC proper. That's been a general failing of the show so far, and it seemed particularly noticeable in this installment, which came right after an episode in which it appeared the writers were willing to take more risks with the characters and the overall tone. Even the Katie story -- in which she admitted to Will/Joshua/Watcher that she was a virgin, then slept with him -- felt surprisingly safe.
In the end, the main story was resolved with the wife agreeing to turn herself in, but setting up one last meeting with her buyer before doing so, a meeting that Stephanie crashed, leading to Mrs. Cotton getting shot. But she turned up fine in the hospital right after the commercial break, and the shooter was arrested, a development that apparently only warranted a phone call from George to Jim, in which we didn't even see George or the arrest.
If you look back at my "NOF" reviews from the first half of the season, a common theme is that the show was taking steps towards being good, but wasn't there yet. Well, this episode was a step in the wrong direction. I understand that at its core, "NOF" is a family show, which I'm fine with, but at some point it is going to need to drop the safety net. And hopefully with the cliffhanger ending from THIS episode (Katie finding Stephanie's diary among "Joshua"'s things), they'll have the opportunity to do so.
For more coverage of the 2010-11 television season, visit the AdamReisinger.com TV Reviews home page.