When a TV series starts burning off new episodes -- particularly critical, major-development episodes -- at 10 p.m. on a Saturday, that's not a good sign. And considering "No Ordinary Family" has already had its episode order cut, the time slot for "No Ordinary Future" probably signals the end of the series. ABC will air one more episode a week from Tuesday, before it officially has to cancel the series in May.
Saturday's episode itself wasn't entirely awful, but it felt familiar. I can't pinpoint exactly where I'd seen it before, but the plot with Stephanie having to piece together her visions of the future before the present caught up or else her family would be in grave danger feels like something that's been done time and time again, and "NOF" didn't really put an original spin on it.
The show did try to amp up the suspense factor by not having Stephanie figure out what was happening (in regards to her running into the future) right away, and even then not allowing her to solve the mystery of why her family was exposed until it was nearly too late, but even that felt forced. Once Stephanie explained to Jim about the situation at the park, they had to add in a line about "George isn't picking up his cell phone" to give Jim a reason to go down there. Of course, there were literally dozens of other cops there too -- couldn't he have called one of THEM?
It also felt a little off that until Stephanie made her last trip to the future, the family's suspicion as to how their secret got out all fell on Daphne and her "criminal" boyfriend, when time and time again, it's been Jim's vigilante actions that have nearly exposed them. In the end, it seemed like the only reason for the Chris suspicion was to get Daphne at the park at the same time, so she could eventually defuse the situation with her mind push power -- a power that was finally exposed to the rest of the family.
Once that happened, it seemed like Jim and Stephanie took the news that Daphne's power had evolved -- and that she had used it against them -- all too lightly. Then, as some kind of twisted form of punishment, they made her use her power to make Chris forget that the Powells have superpowers, only Chris also forgot Daphne's relationship too (in the one scene that had the appropriate level of emotional impact, thanks in large part to a really good acting job by Kay Panabaker). That is honestly some really downright awful parenting by Jim and Stephanie there. They went from "don't use your powers" to "use your powers AGAINST the people you love". I know their motives were... well, solid, I guess, but it really felt like another low point for this show.
Not even the return of Rebecca Mader -- resurrected by the Deus Ex Machina that is Mrs. X -- could salvage the episode, especially since her shape-shifting character spent the majority of her screen time in the guise of Katie's kindly old OB/GYN. Meanwhile, we didn't see any more power usage out of Katie's unborn superbaby, but according to Mrs. X, the serum has bonded with the baby's DNA, whatever that means.
At this point, the show's ongoing mysteries and developing storylines seem pointless, since it's highly unlikely we're getting anything more than one more episode out of it. So let's just sit back and watch that finale (April 5), then wonder what could have been for this series that never quite got out of its own way.
For more coverage of the 2010-11 television season, visit the AdamReisinger.com TV Reviews home page.