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'No Ordinary Family' Pilot Recap: Has A Shot At Becoming A Great Show

September 29th, 2010 9:35am EDT | Elisa Bunke By: Elisa Bunke favorite Add to My News

The Powells seem like an average family; Jim is a sketch artist for the police, and Stephanie is a renowned scientist. Their children Daphne and JJ struggle with boyfriends and school, and while Stephanie spends her time working eighty hours a week, Jim worries about his family pulling apart.
Stephanie Powell
Stephanie's work is sending her to Brazil, and Jim convinces her to make it a family vacation. The kids are too thrilled about the idea, but they don't get much of a choice. Jim is determined to get his family together for the first time since their trip to Yellowstone three years ago.
Even on the trip, the family is busy doing their own things, and Jim's has his mind set on getting some decent family memories "whether they want them or not." He decides to get everyone together for a sunset tour of the rainforest. Unfortunately, their plane, as Daphne so deftly puts it "looks like a coffin." Here's a tip: never fly in something that looks like it could kill you.

In the plane, they're caught up in a huge storm; their plane is shaking everywhere and Jim, worried about them crashing, gets everyone in life vests. "We're dying and I haven't even done it yet!" Daphne exclaims. It doesn't look like she'll have a chance to either, when the plane suffers complete engine failure. Jim tries to ensure the family that they'll be make it.
 As the plane begins to pummel towards the Amazon River, Jim think's back on his family- when his kids were small enough to still like him, when his wife presumably had more time at home to just throw the football around with the family;  his family is his entire world. Now everyone now has their own thing going on, and Jim feels alone in the world.

The plane crashes into the Amazon, the Powells swim their way to the surface; they've all survived, but their pilot didn't make it. They make their way to shore, and in the rain they hold each other close, promising to make a new beginning in their lives. But when they return home, promises made after a close encounter with death don't stick, and the Powells return to their old ways almost immediately.
Jim talks to Stephanie about the two of them getting away for a little while, and Stephanie, trying to make things work a bit, suggest dinner the following night.

Jim talks with his friend George about his problems with his family, George suggests he try couple's counseling (and he's the expert, having been there many times with previous wives). At work, Jim is attempting to get any identifying features from a grieving widow in order to complete a sketch. All he can get from her is that the man who robbed them was wearing an Obama mask. After not getting any further, Jim takes a break and heads for the coffee, where he starts talking to Yvonne Cho, one of the detectives.
While they're talking, a man in the precinct gets a gun away from one of the officers, and as cops work to get him down, he ends up aiming at Detective Cho. As the gun goes off, Jim tackles Cho to the ground, and the cops cuff the gunman. Jim is shaken, and goes out for air. In his hand he holds the bullet from the suspect.

Most mornings when Stephanie wakes up, all the thoughts of work and not being able to connect to Jim and the family come pressing down from wherever sleep puts them, but this morning, she wakes up to something different; Jim's flexing in the mirror, happier than she's seen him in a while. Stephanie doesn't even have time to think about that though- she doesn't have time for much of anything these days.
She drops the kids off at school, but notices that Daphne seems upset about something. Before she can find out what's wrong, Daphne's off, looking like she's ready to take down a girl who's hitting on her boyfriend.

Stephanie has her lab assistant Katie make reservations for her and Jim later that night. In a meeting with the board, Stephanie talks about a plant discovered in Amazon, the Trilsetum Coronis. The lab in Brazil is already experimenting with it, and she's confident that it's going to be a game-changer. The chairman's intrigued by Trilsetum Coronis, and wants to meet with Stephanie over drinks to discuss it and funding her research. It's great news for Stephanie, but it would mean having to cancel on Jim.

Jim in the meantime, has bough out an entire batting facility in order to test out his new abilities. He loads up the pitching machine and is thrilled to be able to cat every ball  (minus the first one) coming his way.
He calls George, eager to show someone what he can now do. The ball comes flying out, and explodes in his hand. George chalks it  up to an illusion, so Jim  pulls out a gun and hands it over. George freaks out as Jim urges him to shoot.

Stephanie call to cancel dinner, but Jim is too busy with George to be upset about it. George is still very reluctant, but eventually gives in. He''s obviously upset at the idea of shooting Jim, and is in the process of refusing when the gun accidentally goes off. Jim catches the bullet, but George passes out.

Stephanie, ever in a hurry, rushes to get to the hotel where she's meeting the chairman. She starts running out to her car, and experiences what she calls an "unexplained phenomenon." She is still running, not seeming to comprehend what's happening. She passes by cars so fast that glass shatters before seeming to get that something strange is happening. She stops in the middle of a busy highway; after years of running behind, she's finally getting places…fast.

Weeks later, Jim is trying to pretend that nothing's changed; but as soon as the family is out of the house, he meets up with George to find out any other abilities he might have.
On top of a building, George is trying to convince Jim to try to fly…by jumping off the roof. This time it's Jim whose reluctant, not wanting to become a splatter on the pavement. He gives in and jumps off the roof, and ends up putting a nice dent in the alley below. He really cannot fly. But apparently, he really can jump- all the way back to roof of the building.

No Ordinary Family

Stephanie desperately needs to tell someone what's happening to her, so she decides to confide in her assistant Katie. Hoping to convince her of what's happened, she runs to Katie's desk retrieves Katie's Kitty Pryde action figure. Oh yeah, Katie's impressed. They head to a racetrack, and Katie records Stephanie's speed- a mile every six seconds. Along with super-speed comes a super metabolism, as Stephanie soon learns after passing out. She now needs to consume massive amounts of calories per day just to keep moving. But Stephanie doesn't seem to mind; moving faster means more time with the family.

Detective Cho tells Jim about even more Obama mask robbings, this time on opposite sides of town within four minutes of each other. Looks like there's more than one robber involved in this whole mess.
George shows up with the stats on Jim- he can lift just around eleven-thousand pounds and jump a quarter of a mile, along with everything else. He urges Jim to tell Stephanie about what's going on, but Jim doesn't want to.
When George finds that Jim has a police scanner in his car, Jim tells him about feeling like with his new powers, he needs to be helping people. With great power comes great responsibility, if you will. While arguing with George, Stephanie calls him up, hoping to arrange a little alone time with him. Super powers make afternoon hook-ups super easy.

After discovering the joys of afternoon delight (and yes, that is what the song is about), the two finally get a chance to talk. They've both noticed something different about the other lately, and finally discuss their problems. Jim tells her about the things that the kids are dealing with- Daphne is worried about losing her boyfriend because she's not ready for sex, and JJ might be placed in remedial classes because of a learning disability. Jim's own life hasn't turned out the way he had hoped, and he can't keep up with Stephanie. She says it's because he stopped trying, and he counters by telling her that they've both stopped trying.

George calls Jim- the Obama Mask Robbers have struck again. The police are chasing them on ground, so Jim heads for the roofs, leaping his way to the chase. He lands on top of the robbers' car and pulls the driver out. Too busy unmasking the robber, he forgets about his partner, who shoots him in the back of the head.
Jim manages to call George before he's unconcious, the robbers gone.
Jim Powell
George wakes up in his own bed; George had brought him home and told Stephanie about his powers. he's worried that she won't ever understand, until she shows him her own abilities. She has a theory about what happened to them; the water they landed in had a phosphorescence- a certain glow to it. She doesn't know what it was, but it's the only thing she can think of.

Daphne calls her dad from school, upset, and Stephanie goes to pick her up. At her basketball game, she confronted the girl that was her boyfriend, when she could suddenly hear people's thoughts. Stephanie takes her home and sits the family down to talk about what happened. JJ is upset, he hasn't noticed any abilities. Daphne refuses to talk about what's happening to them, she doesn't want any of it.

Jim's made a sketch of the robber that he caught and turns it into Detective Cho. Off the sketch, they're able to identify the robber as a guy named Rico, and she plans to go after him. Jim tries to tag along, but is told to leave it to the guys with guns. He waits a few seconds, but then take his handy-dandy roof route.
Cho and her partner go to Rico's ex-girlfriend's apartment, looking for him. The ex denies having seen him, but as they go to leave,e he comes up the elevator and shoots Cho's partner before and takes her hostage.

Daphne is with her boyfriend, and hears him talk about meeting up with Daphne's best friend Emily. She hears him talking about hooking up with Emily and realizes that he's been cheating on her. She leaves, upset.
When she gets home, Stephanie tries to comfort her, and at first Daphne isn't feeling it. She eventually breaks down and tells her mom about what happened with her boyfriend. JJ walks by, still upset and confused about why he's the only one without any powers.

Rico throws Cho in the trunk of his car just as Jim comes in to stop him. Jim thinks this'll be easy since Rico's partner isn't around this time, but Rico has an ability of his own, and gets the best of Jim. Rico's got a gun on Jim, and tells him that they've not the only ones. Before he has a chance to shoot him, Cho kills him, having managed to escape from the trunk. She berates Jim for following, and sends him off.

Stephanie and Jim have a heart-to-heart, and she gets him to agree to no more bullets and crime fighting. I wonder how long that's going to last.

At school, JJ's has a math test that he's completely dreading. But instead of just failing like usual, the equations on the chalkboard start lighting up and he's able to understand everything. Looks like the Powells have a boy genius on their hands!

George decides that as long as Jim is going to be a super cool Batman- type, he might as well get to be the Oracle, and surprises Jim with a super-secret crime fidgeting lair set up in his garage. Oh yeah, Jim's psyched.

Jim and Stephanie decide to try couple's counseling, and ever since whatever happened to them, they've felt closer as a family than before. This time when the family plays football in the yard, it looks like something you'd see during rec time with the 'X-Men'.

Somewhere else, Stephanie's boss, Dr. King, is in an shady-looking underground facility. He meets up with an equally shady-looking man, and they talk. King glances down at Rico's body, which is laid out on a gurney; he tells the other man to "find out who knows about him- and then take care of it." Uh-Oh, he's looking as shady as the rest of them!


Rating: A


Admittedly, I'm a sucker for superhero shows (as my loyal viewing of 'Heros' will attest to), but 'No Ordinary Family' seems like it actually has a shot at being a great show. It very much feels like Heros and The Incredibles had an amazing little hybrid baby, and that really seems to be working for them.

The cast is excellent, and the family dynamic is definitely there. While the characters may be super-human powerhouses, it's the story of them as a family struggling to fit together- not their abilities, that really makes the show.

Photo Credits: All photos © American Broadcasting Companies, Inc


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