Judge Kent Dixon is no ordinary reviewer...he types with his toes.
"Every story has a beginning, but ours doesn't start the way you might think."—Jim Powell
Why is it that so many promising TV concepts are killed before they even get a chance to breathe? Debuting on ABC in September 2010, No Ordinary Family had only just begun to develop and grow its audience before being cancelled.
Facts of the Case
Meet the Powell family: James "Jim" Powell, Sr. (Michael Chiklis, The Shield) feels disconnected from his job and his wife; Stephanie (Julie Benz, Dexter) is a workaholic, and their teenage children James "JJ" Jr. (Jimmy Bennett, Star Trek (2009)) and Daphne (Kay Panabaker, Fame) are, well, typical angst-ridden teenagers who'd rather do just about anything than spend time with their parents. Mixing business with pleasure, Jim and the kids join Stephanie on a business trip to South America. Little did any of them know that their fateful trip would change their lives forever.
All 20 episodes of the series are spread over four discs:
The concept of No Ordinary Family had my above-average family hooked from the beginning. Finally here was a TV series we could all watch together that was exciting and action-packed, without being too intense or inappropriate for my 9 and 11-year-old. From the beginning, we enjoyed both the family time and a great show that had heart and appeal. Sadly, the series has been cancelled.
Produced by ABC Studios for the 2010-2011 season, No Ordinary Family featured some amazing talent both in front of and behind the camera. Created by writers Greg Berlanti (Everwood) and Jon Harmon Feldman (Wonder Years), and executive produced by Berlanti, Feldman, Morgan Wandell and David Semell (Party of Five) the series had some significant energy and experience behind it. While the concept seemed very familiar right from the start, for my family, it was more like something comfortably familiar that instantly appeal to us, rather than being a straight reboot or copycat of an existing property. Other critics have written the series off as too predictable or smarmy, but I'd argue it may be that they either aren't the target market for this show or they have become too jaded to see the value here.
As with any film or TV series, as good as a concept might be, it is the actors who bring the concept to life and make or break it for audiences. Fortunately No Ordinary Family featured both a core and supporting cast populated by skilled actors with familiar faces. Particularly Chiklis and Benz were solid and skilled performers who breathed life into the Powell family, making them flawed but believable protagonists.
The plot lines always works, blending everyday family challenges, teenage issues and superhero adventures into something unique. Imagine if The Incredibles had been a series of films and you'd have some idea of what No Ordinary Family delivered week after week. No good guy is complete without a solid nemesis and Antoon, Collins and Lawless delivered that in spades. The more I think about the series' cancellation, the more concerned I become that the creativity and appeal of more and more series may be sacrificed at the altar of the corporate machine. It seems that these days, to quote Billy Joel, "only the good die young."
No Ordinary Family blasts its way onto DVD with a color palette that is vibrant and warm, with acceptable fine detail and contrast. While supposedly shot in 720p, there seems to be no indication of a Blu-ray release at this point, and the DVD release doesn't seem to have been created from an HD master. Each disc launches with full motion video of one of the family members before settling into a static selection menu. Sonically, the series gets a crisp but limiting 2.0 mix that holds the presentation back far more than I would have liked; while the packaging lists a 5.1 mix as well, it is nowhere to be found. As far as extras features are concerned, disc four includes an all-too-short blooper reel that will make fans smile, and an assortment of nine deleted scenes that add some minor additional character and plot development.
Speaking for my family, we will greatly miss this series, but thankfully, we have No Ordinary Family: The Complete Series to watch and re-watch together. In a TV landscape skewed towards more adult-themed drama series, it's a shame the show was cut down before it had a chance to grow into something really special and unique; shame on you ABC!
ABC: Guilty. No Ordinary Family: Guilty only of being something special with real promise.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
• Deleted Scenes
Review content copyright © 2011 Kent Dixon; Site design and review layout copyright © 2016 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.