No Ordinary Family ep 3

“I know how much time you spend worrying about my powers.  I just thought we should spend a little time enjoying them, too.”

Well said, Jim Powell.  Shame then that the promised enjoyment was limited to a stupendously corny rooftop dinner scene for him and his mrs.  A scene which might have worked if they had a) dialogue that didn’t make me want to throw up and b) any chemistry whatsoever together.  But they didn’t and they don’t.  I got heaps more enjoyment out of watching George try and teach Jim to dance – now that was funny.

Funny enough to keep me watching though?  I don’t know.  For all its flaws, this episode was miles better than the first two and confounded me slightly as a result – should I stick with it or not?  After all, George is great and this week’s robberies (at weddings, not banks, this time, variety being the spice of life) were actually quite exciting, even if the plot was full of holes.  (The police force don’t have enough men to cover all the high society weddings likely to be targeted, but Jim and George can manage them all? The robbers very obligingly bring the loot they’ve already scored from one wedding with them to the next one, in case, oh, I don’t know, Jim needs to get his wife’s stolen ring back?  Come on.) 

But, setting aside the been-there-seen-that-stuck-with-it-through-four-seasons-to-the-bitter-end issue for now, a fundamental problem with the show is still the Family itself.  All they did AGAIN this week was bicker about having their powers, and which of them should use those powers and who they can tell about those powers and blah blah blah woe is me blah blah blah powers.  Shut UP, all of you.

So the Powells still suck.  Will they improve?  I don’t know.  But, like I said, this episode was better.  So I’m undecided.  I might watch it again, I might not.  No great loss either way.

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No Ordinary Family eps 1 & 2

Another day, another fantasy series.

No Ordinary Family was always going to have difficulty carving a niche for itself in today’s overcrowded cult market.  And matters won’t have been made any easier by the fact that Heroes season 1 rocked the ‘ordinary people with extraordinary abilities’ concept and Misfits managed to beat the odds on pulling the same trick twice by putting a bawdy, raucous spin on the same theme. So, in fairness, NOF would have had to come up with a pretty special new twist to hit the bullseye a third time just now.  What did it go with?  That revolutionary theme of marital disharmony.  Oh God. 

Michael Chiklis’s Jim Powell is married to Julie Benz’s Stephanie.  So far so good.  But, oh no!  Their marriage is on the rocks because she’s a successful high-flyer who works all the time, while he’s an ordinary Joe obsessed with spending time with his family.  I don’t know why, given that his kids are standard-issue horrible tv teens.  But, according to Jim, I don’t get it because I don’t have any myself.  Thanks, Jim. 

Because of Jim’s stifling neediness family time fixation, all the Powells end up on a plane in Brazil.  The plane crashes, causing them to develop superpowers, which they proceed to conceal, whine about, fight about, agonise about and generally all the idiot things tv characters do in this situation – which really helps with the said marital disharmony, obviously. 

All this is hackneyed, boring and, thanks to one of the most inane voiceovers in living memory, incredibly patronising.  The couples’ counselling conceit would have been a good one if it didn’t look exactly like Modern Family, and nearly every other scene has already been done often and better as well.

There are a few mildly amusing moments, largely thanks to the only character I could stand, Jim’s best friend George (Romany Malco), and his determination to turn Ordinary Jim into a crime-fighting superhero but, unfortunately, to offset them, there’s also a deeply tedious and no doubt season-long (sigh) story arc about shady people who also have abilities but use them for evil.  Well, I never.  And, as if we haven’t suffered enough, the dialogue’s dreaful too. 

So a failure on all counts, then.  I’ll give it another episode to settle, but I’m not hopeful.

Public Service Announcement 2 of 2011: Glee, No Ordinary Family

Glee’s back.  Season 1 commenced with a more or less flawless run of episodes, but became much less consistent after a lengthy mid-season hiatus: everyone agreed that there were one or two very poor episodes in its back 9 run, even if we couldn’t necessarily agree on which ones were the clunkers.  I’m still not sure that being a global phenomenon suits it anything like as much as being the plucky underdog did, but we’ll start to find out at 9pm on E4 on Monday 10 January, with regular reviews here.

And on Tuesday 11 January at 8pm, Watch – no, me neither – has the UK premiere of ABC’s No Ordinary Family.  Following a plane crash (yes, Lost again) a family discovers that it has mysteriously acquired superpowers (yes, Heroes again).  With Michael Chiklis and Julie Benz as mom and pop, and Tate Donovan, Amy Acker and Autumn Reeser all popping up, it’s got a few well-known names on board, and on the back of a respectful critical response it kicked off with acceptable viewing figures.  It’s been given a full season pick-up, but as viewership has since declined it’s currently looking odds-against for further renewal.  We’ll probably review the first one at least.