Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Foot: No Ordinary Family "No Ordinary Visitor" Review

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="329" caption="Terry Gilliam is awesome. He has nothing to do with this show."][/caption]

The in-laws-visit-the-family plot in a family drama is among my least favorite plots in a TV drama because nearly every show uses the same formula. The formula is tiresome and boring. The parents of the wife visit and the show devotes 3/4 of the episode to the fact that the father (both parents) dislike the husband and insult his role as husband and father in front of the whole family until the fourth or fifth act (depending on the show) when the in-laws and the husband come to an understanding and smiles fill the screen until time runs out.

"No Ordinary Visitor" follows the in-laws formula exactly. Stephanie's father dislikes Jim because he never asked permission to marry his daughter (really, Jim? and we're supposed to root for a guy who didn't have the respect to ask his girlfriend's dad for his blessing? yet another red flag for the show and its main character). Her father insults his grandson's intellect. Steph's mother repeatedly insults her daughter and the stability of her daughter's marriage. As a whole, the parents are among the most unlikable characters in television history. At least the curmudgeon parents of Rose Abbott in Everwood had a likable father and Betty White in the role of her mother. Cybil Shepard and Bill McGill aren't given much to work with considering their characters are loathsome but neither actor tries to make their character likable.

The Powells want to keep their powers a secret from the parents; however, each family member uses their powers before episode's end. Jim continues to fight crime, Daphne continues reading minds when she shouldn't, Steph runs to let off frustration and J.J. only uses his powers after his father decides he wants to see his father-in-law lose in a game of pool. The in-laws grow suspicious of Jim's behavior and decide the man must be cheating on his wife. After the matter of infidelity is cleared up, both married couples share a moment of brief reconciliation and harmony. The night before, Steph lashed out at her parents because they think her family is suffering because of her success at work. Steph tells her parents that her husband is wonderful, that her son is gifted and that her daughter is the most intuitiive teenage girl in the world. In the moment of harmony and reconciliation, the parents apologize for their behavior. The mother explains that she resented her daughter's multiple role as research scientist, mother and wife because her mother feels her life had some emptiness. Steph assures her mother that the job she did as mother made young Steph think her mother had superpowers (the show is not subtle). Jim finally asks for his father-in-law's blessing and receives it. Blah. BLAH.

The worst part of the episode involves the parallel stories. George actually verbalizes the parallel in another example of how much this show holds the hands of its audience (and maybe they should since the majority of America thinks Inception is the most difficult and complex movie they've ever seen....the Finnegan's Wake of the 21st century...and no...Inception is a rather simplistic, straightforward story but this is a rant for another time). One of Daphne's classmates experiences a home invasion. The teenager catches a glimpse of one of the invaders and gets threat against his life should he tell the cops what he saw. Daphne uses her powers and, eventually, the criminal gets caught and his band of thieves. Zero characterization happens in the case-of-the-week. NONE. I mean, a piece of ply wood has more character than any of the characters involved in the home invasion story.

The story exists for one beat and one beat only. Daphne's powers have evolved. The girl receives visuals of other people's thoughts (it's exactly like Cordelia's visions in ANGEL if the visions came to her after the events occurred rather than before). Daphne learns that her father saved her classmate's life. She learns, once again, that her dad is super. Also, the story exists for the theme of the home invasion. The poor family whose home was invaded by gun-wielding thugs is just like the Powells home being invaded by the in-laws, according to No Ordinary Family.

No Ordinary Family struck out more than Mark Reynolds tonight, folks. The only joy I experienced while watching the show occurred when I switched the channel to watch parts of The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus and when Julie Benz danced at the end of the episode.

I used to like the show but it continues to evolve into an irritating 41+ minutes of television per week. I used to like the characters but they all annoy me even the entertaining sidekicks (Katie and George). The show needs an injection of energy or a vibrant character with energy. Usually, one could count on the villains but Dr. King and Sylar II possess as much personality as the teenage son in the home invasion plot. The Powell family isn't enaging enough to carry the show through 22 episodes.

Thankfully, the lovely Amy Acker is in next week's episode. There is hope.

SCREENPLAY OF THE DAY

Back To The Future--Written By Robert Zemeckis and Bob Dale--http://www.scifiscripts.com/scripts/back_to_the_future_original_draft.html

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.