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Featured TV on DVD Review: No Ordinary Family: Season One

September 3rd, 2011

No Ordinary Family: Season One - Buy from Amazon

ABC ordered seven new scripted shows at the beginning of the 2010 TV season, and all seven were canceled by the end of the season. Their midseason replacements fared better, and midseason replacements are usually shows that are not quite good enough for the fall schedule. One of these unlucky shows was No Ordinary Family, which was at first picked for a full season, then saw its episode order cut back, before finally being canceled. Was canceling the show inevitable, or did it end too soon?

The Show

The show starts out with Michael Chiklis introducing us to the rather ordinary family that is the Powells. He plays Jim Powell, who is worried that the family is drifting apart. His wife, Stephanie, is a research scientist and that's a demanding job that includes a lot of travel. Daphne is your typical 16-year old, in other words, she's more interested in dating and her social life than spending time with the family. Finally there's James Tiberius Kirk, I mean J.J., the youngest member of the family, who's a little on the dumb side.

In the first scene, Jim is trying to convince everyone how great it would be if they all went to Brazil with their mother, who is going there as part of a research project. It would be like a family vacation, and they haven't had one of those in years. The vacation doesn't go as planned. At first, because they never do anything as a family, they are just as distant as they were at home, but now they are distant in another country. Then when they finally do do something together, a sunset plane tour of the rain forest, it ends in a flaming plane crash. They manage to survive and vow to change their lives. They don't. They all go back to their normal lives. Except something has changed. Jim notices it first, when he stops a bullet with his bare hands. It's not long before he's showing off his powers to George St. Cloud, his friend and A.D.A., and trying to figure out what the extent of his abilities are and planning on using them to fight crime. Later Stephanie also figures out she's developed super powers, after she runs so fast that time appears to slow down. She to gets a confidant in Katie Andrews, her lab assistant. Even their kids develop super powers, as Daphne can read minds and J.J. becomes a super genius.

While Jim starts to use these powers to fight crime, Stephanie uses her scientific knowledge to figure out where they came from, while Daphne and J.J. just try and deal with being teenagers with hidden super powers. The big reveal in episode one is, they are not the ones with supers powers. The big twist at the end is... and there's no way to discuss the show without the spoiler, Stephanie's boss at GlobalTech, Dr. Dayton King, is behind these super villains. For most of the show's run, we get a Freak-of-the-Week, while slowly learning a bit more of the powers and the people behind GlobalTech.

I'm of two minds when it comes to this TV series. On the one hand, it's just Smallville with a family of super heroes. On the other hand, that's not a bad concept for a show and there's a lot of potential story lines dealing with various related subjects. How would the average person adapt to finding out they have super powers? How would this change the dynamic of a family? Would going through high school with telepathy make things better, or worse? Back to the original hand, during the first, and only, season, there were glimpses of it reaching its full potential, but it never quite got there. There were too many Freak-of-the-Week episodes, it was a little too predictable, borrowed a little heavily from other sources, etc. That said, by the end there were definite signs that the show was coming into its own and that makes it even more of a shame that it won't get a chance to reach its potential.

The Extras

There are no extras on the first three discs, but disc four has three minutes of outtakes and nine deleted scenes with a total running time of eight minutes. That's not a whole lot for a TV on DVD release, although considering it was canceled after just one season and the four-disc set only costs $19, any amount of extras is a surprise.

The Verdict

If No Ordinary Family had been renewed, then Season One would have been an easy recommendation. While it started a little slow, by the end of the season, it was finding its voice. The prospect of seeing season two would have made season one worth it, bumps and all. As it is, whether or not it is worth spending the time on the show depends on if you want to watch a series that ends on a cliffhanger that you know will never get answered.

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