Friday, 7 January 2011

'NO ORDINARY FAMILY' 1.11 - "No Ordinary Friends"

Friday, 7 January 2011

A man who can stop a moving freight train with his bare hands? Yeah, I'll suspend my disbelief. A woman who can run 100 metres in the blink of an eye? Okay, sure. A girl who can hear people's thoughts? Not a problem. Accepting that Autumn Reeser's a virgin in her thirties? Sorry, but that's a step too far.

No Ordinary Family returns from its mid-season hiatus, with an episode primed to be a clever re-introduction to the show, as the super-Powell's daughter Daphne (Kay Panabaker) has her memories of the previous 10 episodes removed by the sinister Watcher (Josh Stewart) in last year's mid-year climax. The writers could have used Daphne as a clever way to bring any newcomers up to speed, as they learn what's been going on via this amnesiac's rediscovery, so why did the writers simply reverse Daphne's dilemma within a few minutes? It felt like a silly cheat and a missed opportunity, although it gets Daphne back to her old self, but without any knowledge that family friend Katie's (Reeser) boyfriend Joshua is a dangerous supervillain.

"No Ordinary Friends" was tantalizingly close to being a very good episode at times, but missed too many open-goals. This week, Jim (Michael Chiklis) saved a pedestrian called Dave Cotten (24 alumnus Ricky Schroder) from getting hit by a city bus, earning himself the admiration and gratitude of the entire Cotten clan. In fact, the Cottens quickly endeared themselves with the Powells, as the two families began to mix socially. Dave's wife Michelle (Annie Wersching, another 24 alumnus) became a welcome drinking buddy for Stephanie (Julie Benz), son Troy (Billy Unger) helped JJ (Jimmy Bennett) impress a girl at school, and daughter Chloe (Conor Leslie) convinced Daphne to run for student council president against a "mean girl". A role Daphne's sure to excel at, seeing as she can literally hear the thoughts and concerns of her electorate

I really liked the idea of the Cottens being a reflection of the Powells, minus super-powers. It's just a shame the writers didn't push that better, especially in the case of Troy and Chloe, who were both more skilled and adept at handling school life than JJ or Daphne. The episode could have made the point that the Cottens are equally as "super" thanks to simple personality and experience, but it didn't quite come off. And while the later reveal that unassuming Michelle's an art thief Jim's been trying to catch was fun, I'm not sure I accepted it. It just didn't seem all that believable.

In a subplot, we had to swallow the ridiculous notion that Katie's still a virgin, which she's nervous about revealing to her hunky new boyfriend Joshua. And Joshua, predictably, has started to become attached to Katie, so decided to turn his back on Dr. King (Stephen Collins) and the super-injections he's being given, to be with the woman he's fallen for. This actually felt like a more mature storyline than usual, even if the show's removed the sense of danger that peaked in the last episode. Having Katie find Stephanie's journal in Joshua's possession, which he stole from their house, was a fun way to put a dampener on the fact she's lost her virginity... to a man snooping on her friends.

Overall, "No Ordinary Friends" was good but could have been great if the execution of the basic idea had been a bit more imaginative and plausible. But still, there was enough fun and forward momentum to keep me happy, and its flaws were easy to shrug off.

WRITERS: Ali Adler & Marc Guggenheim
DIRECTOR: Terry McDonough
TRANSMISSION: 4 January 2010, ABC, 9/8c