Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Foot: Review of No Ordinary Family--Pilot

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="385" caption="Julie Benz and Michael Chiklis star in ABC's No Ordinary Family"][/caption]

The last show about superheroes that I watched had no sense of fun. Characters never smiled. The actors and actresses delivered their lines without emotion and probably should've considered hiring new dialogue coaches. Hayden Panetierre developed a habit of mumbling some of her lines and she conveyed zero emotions throughout most of the HEROES run. Perhaps the show reflected the unhappiness of the writers room or the unhappiness of the actors. The show suffered from whatever took place behind the scenes of the show. HEROES became one of my least favorite shows of all-time.

I hope No Ordinary Family retains the same sense of fun the pilot had. The characters are excited about their superpowers. The final image of the pilot features the family laughing and smiling in the backyard. After the depressive experience that was Heroes, I welcome a superhero show that is fun.

The show revolves around the Powell family. Jim (Michael Chiklis) is a sketch artist for the local police department. He's an aspiring cop who struggles to earn the respect of the actual cops. His home life is a balancing act between work and their children--leaving little room to find the spark of his marriage again. Stephanie (the lovely Julie Benz) works long hours as a scientist and can barely find enough time in her day to talk to her daughter or help her son with homework. No way she can find the time for romance with her husband. Daphne (Kay Panabaker), their daughter, is a teen who is not whole apart from her cell phone. She's also a high school girl who faces the possibility of losing her boyfriend because she's not ready to have sex. JJ (Jimmy Bennett), the son, struggles with homework. His teacher tells Stephanie that she thinks he has a learning disability.

Everything changes for the family when their plane crashes into the Amazon river and the family soon emerges with superpowers. Jim possesses super strength and an ability to jump long distances. Jim would win the Olympic long jump easily. He was a man who found himself in the role of the mother in the household, now he feels like a true man. Stephanie, the woman with no time, develops super speed that allows her the time she needs to talk with her daughter about her daughter's problems, help her son with his homework and be intimate with her husband. JJ develops the power to do homework better. Daphne can hear the thoughts of her peers. Each superpower allows the family to grow closer and become the family that Jim has wanted them to be.

Jon Harmon Feldman and Greg Berlanti created the show. Both have experience with family dramas, especially Berlanti who created the excellent Everwood. Feldman worked for Dawson's Creek during the first season followed by Berlanti, who joined the show in season two. Feldman's track record isn't great. Berlanti has earned a tremendous amount of trust from me because of the excellent first season of Everwood (a season that ranks behind LOST's first season on my all-time great individual season of television list). Berlanti can get a bit soapy with his series. Ditto for Feldman. I trust that this show won't become too soapy. The pilot is promising and I'll gladly review the show on a weekly basis.

Some other thoughts:

-Autumn Reeser and Romany Malco are both great in their supporting roles. Reeser was in Entourage the last two years. What a difference the writing makes. Entourage writes female roles terribly while Feldman, in the pilot, gives Reeser good material. Autumn Reeser is a delight.

-I'm a huge fan of Julie Benz. I'll watch the show, regardless, because of her. A weekly dose of Julie Benz is great.

-Tom Amandes shows up at the very end as the man Jim and Stephanie have been talking to. Everwood fans know him as the awesome Dr. Harold "Patch" Abbott. Hopefully Tom Amandes hangs around for a few episodes because he is awesome.

-Critics have complained about the 'talking to the camera' device. Berlanti used narration for the first two seasons of Everwood. I have no idea if the device will be dropped. If not, this might be a PG version of In Treatment meets The Incredibles.

-David Semel directed the pilot. Semel directed one of the best ANGEL episodes of all-time, "Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been?" and he's a TV veteran. Semel also directed four Buffy episodes, among them "Lover's Walk." Semel ALSO directed nine Dawson's Creek episodes. He directed one of Van Der Beek's first self-righteous turns as Dawson in "Be Careful What You Wish For." Semel directed other classic Creek episodes, as well. Yes.

-The criminal in the episode possesses super powers so the show won't lack villains on a weekly basis.

-Not sure the actor who played the Reverend on the show that wouldn't die, 7th Heaven, is believable as a villain. I also don't like the hint that another damn company exists that dislikes superheroes. Way too much of that went on in HEROES.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK

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About The Foot

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.