I don't usually enjoy TV episodes that start in medias res, because it usually isn't done well enough to avoid telegraphing the rest of the episode, and that was the case with Tuesday's episode on "No Ordinary Family." In "No Ordinary Powell", we start the episode with Stephanie discovering the believed-to-be dead body of her husband, Jim, but by the time the episode catches up with that scene, it's pretty obvious that the body was that of the shapeshifter -- a fact confirmed entirely too quickly, when the dead body somehow morphed back from Jim to Victoria after she'd been killed.
That style of too quick resolution is clearly a trend at this point with the show, which seems reluctant to explore some of its darker themes and situations. Within the episode itself, the mystery about Natalie's mother was introduced and resolved with lightning speed -- even for a group of people with super powers -- and by the end the good guys were happy and the bad guys got what was coming to them.
This isn't a show that seems enthused about possibly portraying its characters in shades of gray, so even when one of the good characters goes to a darker place, as Daphne began to with her mind-controlling powers, she quickly is shown the consequences of it -- in this case, almost getting killed by the woman who'd murdered Natalie's mom -- and then everything's happy back in the Powell home again.
Actually, to be fair, it's not even a reluctance to show shades of gray, because aside from Victoria and Dr. King, even all the so-called "bad" characters we've seen had mitigating circumstances that made them that way, and didn't WANT to be bad. It's like this show takes place in some kind of magical universe where everyone but one or two people are supposed to have the best of intentions all the time, and when they don't, they're quickly punished for it. And while Joshua -- the best example of the "bad guy with good intentions" club so far -- hinted that the grand superpower serum conspiracy goes far beyond Dr. King, I'd be stunned if the show bothers to investigate that any time soon.
The other thing that bothered me about this episode is that the plot required almost everyone to act like a complete idiot at the exact moment necessary for everything to move forward. By this point in their lives, the Powells should be completely suspicious at all times, and always assume if something "feels" off, then it is. But instead, they just shrug off all signs of having a supervillain in their midst, and go on with their over-expository conversations and lives.
Like all "No Ordinary Family" episodes, this one has moments, however fleeting, where you feel like the show's going to evolve into something better. But when you get to the end of the episode and examine it as a whole, it's like, "OK, what really happened there." So, yes, now the Powells know Dr. King is evil, and yes, know he knows they all have powers, but it doesn't seem like either side is particularly anxious to do anything about it. I guess we'll just have to wait and see where this goes.
Still, as frustrating as this show is, it looks like "Mad Men" compared to "The Cape", the other current superhero show on network TV. I know that's not saying much, but it's something.
For more coverage of the 2010-11 television season, visit the AdamReisinger.com TV Reviews home page.