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No Ordinary Family – Episode 1 Recap

Ed Note: Please welcome back Mark Baker who will be recapping No Ordinary Family on ABC the season (or as long as it lasts)….

When the new falls shows were being announced, the first one that caught my attention
was ABC’s No Ordinary Family. While I don’t read comic books, I love a good
superhero story as much as the next guy. And, while I stuck with it through the end,
Heroes lost its way early by the end of season two.

Pilot episodes can often be weak. A show needs to establish characters and give us back
story, most of which we probably already know. In this case, we know the show is going
to be about a family who gains super powers after crash landing in a river in Brazil. But
even though I knew that going in, I was still entertained by the pilot.

The show starts off by introducing us to Powell family. Dad Jim is a frustrated artist
working as a police sketch artist. Mom Stephanie is a very successful research scientist.
The kids, Daphne and JJ, are typical teenagers. Despite once being close, they have
drifted apart over the years due to the busyness of life.

When Stephanie gets a research assignment in Brazil, Jim decides it will be the perfect
family vacation. And he’s the one who suggests they make the fateful trip in a small
plane that leads to them crashing in the river. The pilot dies, but they return home
completely unaware anything has changed.

Jim is the first one to notice that something is different. When a suspect gets free in
the police station and fires a gun, Jim instinctually reaches out and catches it. That
freaks him out, but he heads to the batting cages to try to find out what his powers are.
Eventually, he enlists his friend George to help him test his powers. While it appears he
is close to invulnerable (he is hurt superficially by a bullet at one point), he can leap a
quarter mile at a time, and appears to be very strong.

Stephanie makes the discovery that she can run very, very fast. She gets a co-worker
to clock her going close to 1000 mph (and complains that she thought she was faster).
Daphne also discovers an ability. She can read people’s thoughts. It appears she can only
do it if she is looking directly into their eyes, or at least that just triggers the ability. I
haven’t quite figured hers out yet. Meanwhile, JJ still has no powers.

Jim wants to use his power to stop the bad guys. Behind the family figuring things
out, we’ve got a plot of a jewelry store robber who is using an Obama mask to hide his
face. Jim corners him, only to be shot in the back of the head by the guy’s partner. This
part was filmed weirdly, and made me wonder what was happening. I was going to go
back and watch it again when I was done with the episode, but I’m glad I didn’t because
everything was explained by the end.

Jim’s wound turned out to be only a flesh wound, but it is why the family starts
discussing their new powers. Meanwhile at work, Jim uses the database to get a hit on
the robber and, against orders, follows the detectives down to pick him up. When one is
killed and the other kidnapped, it’s Jim to save the day. Except for one thing. The robber
also has powers – he can teleport himself. That explains why I didn’t think there was
a partner when Jim got shot earlier in the episode. The two go at it fighting with their
abilities until the kidnapped cop wakes up and shots the villain in the back, killing him.

Meanwhile, JJ has discovered he does have an ability – he can solve complex math
equations quickly and easily. So, just how is this going to play into the plot of the show?
Is that all there is to his ability? And what kind of lame ability is that? I’m still feeling
sorry for the guy.

In the last few minutes, Jim promises Stephanie that he won’t fight crime any more. Then
his friend George sets up a lair for him. Daphne learns that her boyfriend is cheating on
her with her best friend. We find out that there are a group of villains who know about
the people with abilities and are out to eliminate anyone who might know the robber’s
secret power. And we find out that Jim and Stephanie are in couple’s therapy, trying to
make their marriage work. The entire episode was supposedly them talking to him.

So I’m left wondering how much they really told him about their powers. Frankly, that
doesn’t seem very smart but a way to get locked up for being crazy. Obviously, we’ll be
fighting these people who know about the powers as the season goes on. But how will
it affect the family? And I did like the fact that it appears the their relationships weren’t
fixed in one episode. I’m also very happy to see them trying to fix them.

I’m very much looking forward to seeing where they go in the next episode. Based on
this episode, I’d say this show has a promising future story wise.

Find more from Mark on his blog.