What have we gotten ourselves into?
Hi, I’m Moorels, and you may remember me from such shows that desperately try to imitate Lost as FlashForward, and, on at least one occasion, America’s Got Talent. This season I’m continuing with half-baked remakes (cough HEROES couch) in the form of No Ordinary Family, which I’ve heard billed as the most exciting premiere this season. Except, no, because:
To be fair, I might have a different definition of exciting.
Anyways, let’s kick this baby off: The opening shot is Michael Chiklis (Fantastic Four’s The Thing) telling us Office-style that every story has a begin, but theirs is different than we, the dumbass viewer, might think. OK, already I want to pause and get something out of the way: I hate the title of this show because it sounds like something dorky your grandfather might say to get you to watch with him (“Son, turn down that rap music and pull up your pants! This is no ordinary family!”), and this intro isn’t helping. Doesn’t it sort of sound like the beginning of a wacky family comedy film from the 80s where some frazzled mom and dad have like twenty kids and then they have to play softball to save their house? Ok, rant over, but I’m just letting you know where I stand on all this kitsch. Firmly anti.
Michael is still talking, but now the scene shifts to a domestic kitchen in which he is trying to convince his wife Stephanie to turn her research trip to Brazil into a family vacation. Because nothing says academia like bringing the kids along, I suppose. Their daughter immediately brings the crazy by insisting that this isn’t a good time for her and her boyfriend Lucas so they should drop the whole thing. This girl is like 12, btw, and is already talking like a 40-year-old divorcee on the hunt for her soulmate. Not that I would know.
It’s five o’clock somewhere.
Mikey C. (I really need a name on this guy, ABC) demands to know why they don’t hang as a family anymore and insists that this is the trip they need, despite much bickering from the kids about playing charades and getting poison ivy in Yellowstone. So far this is tough to recap, because I moved out to get AWAY from conversations like this. What an ordinary family they seem like!
Flashforward (lol) to Belem, Brazil. And ugh, raise your hand if you hate this campy music they play whenever the scene changes. I was led to believe this was about superheroes and people would be fighting and dying and things. Anyways, it seems The Thing is STILL pissed because even though they’re in South America they never spend time together(I can’t really root for protagonists when they’re so much like my ex-girlfriend, you know?), so now they’re going to take a sunset flight over the rain forest. Nice bit of foreshadowing in the womenfolk’s reluctance to board such a shady-looking craft.
Just an ordinary family boarding an ordinary plane.
Next scene, they’re in a crazy storm. Man, we’re just moving right along here, aren’t we? Despite the music’s insistence that this is still all a wacky adventure and Rick Moranis would show up any minute, we all know how this is going to turn out. Also, the pilot assures them that they’ll be fine, which is the kiss of death in any pop culture plane moment.
Looks like he picked the wrong day to stop huffing glue.
The Thing suits his family up with life vests and prattles on about Space Mountain (seriously, so far he has had 95% of the dialogue, minus humorous quips from his children designed to fake us into believing everything is so ORDINARY. His wife seemingly just drinks in silence). The plane is then struck by lightening, but this does not prevent the flow of banter regarding father’s deception towards children and daughter’s virginity. BUT THEN, before they can crash in the river or strike that mysterious thing that I KNOW I saw looming over the water, it’s time for a flashback to how happy he used to be with his family.
The bottom line appears to be that Thing (STILL no name given) has been upset about his children pulling away and his wife working so much as a researcher, so crazy Brazilian plane tour was his attempt to bring it all back. Will parents never learn? You’re supposed to BRIBE your children with money and food to get their attention! Stephanie has the right idea (and the only name so far, besides still-not-getting-any Lucas): a bottle of wine, then bury yourself in your work. It’s why I took up recapping in the first place.
Back to the present: smashing into the water and finally some dramatic tinkly piano music. Everyone survives (except the pilot, but we don’t see the body. Watch for him to show up in the season finale as some ultimate supervillain). Apparently they all have no problem waltzing out of God-knows-where in the jungle and back to civilization, and Thing tells us they’ve all made new promises: he’s going to have a name, Stephanie will cut down to two glasses a day, the boy will try to develop a personality, and the girl will go bone Lucas. Or maybe they’ll just try to spend more time together. And if that’s the case, maybe Mikey planned this whole thing…DUN DUN DUN!
Stephanie totally hooks me up with some children names upon arriving home (JJ and Daphne, proving that she’s always had the superpower of scarring her children), but then Thing immediately starts pouting because everyone goes to their own rooms. Seriously? You’ve been home for like thirty seconds. Chill out, dude. Again, I understand where he’s coming from, but he kind of seems like the worst ever right now.
This is what we will see for the next eight months.
Stephanie switches to awesome wife mode and encourages him to plan a nice dinner tomorrow, casually mentioning a bottle of wine. Oh, Stephanie. Don’t make my job any easier.
Eight months starts NOW.
Next up, the batting cages with Thing’s token black friend. I’m not going to say that that’s ordinary in real life, but in film/TV…. He asks, “Who am I?” I’m having a hard time with that one myself, man. He monologues that he’s a failed painter and now a police sketch artist.
“It’s plot exposition, it has to go somewhere.” Anyone?
Black friend offers him the card of a couples’ therapist (after hilariously accidentally handing him a card for a divorce attorney first). The music continues to annoy the hell out of me.
Down at the station (you know who I miss? Mark and Demetri, my FlashForward bros. RIP.), Thing is helping a sobbing woman whose jewelry store was robbed.
Sorry ma’am, the Sarah Palin auditions were yesterday.
Here we go, time for some superhero justice! Or, a stroll to the vending machine. He chats with hardass Asian Detective Cho (seriously ABC? The black guy is twice divorced, the Asian has no sense of humor? Not a great night to be a minority), when suddenly some thug grabs a gun and fires it at Cho. Thing knocks her out of the way, and then finds that the bullet smashed against his hand and flattened. NO ORDINARY FAMILY, INDEED.
Opening credit slide. Way farther into the episode than I expected.
Now Stephanie is talking about not connecting with her nameless husband and feeling pressure at work. She finds JIM (Jim! She said Jim!) flexing in the mirror and then accidently ripping the doornob out of the door. Side note: anyone else think they live in an awfully nice house for a researcher and a sketch artists’ salary?
Stephanie drops of JJ and then asks to talk to Daphne about the plane crash (poor neglected JJ), when she dives out of the car to confront some whore. Her words.
This girl is like twenty years older than everyone else.
The whore dispatched, she makes out with Lucas a little and then girl talks with her random sidekick. I’m beginning to lean back towards ordinary.
Stephanie is doing a presentation on the Amazon (sort of an adult ‘What I Did On My Summer Vacation’) and speaking about a rare plant, when Dr. Douche speaks up and makes the most skeptical face that I’ve ever seen in my life. And I’ve sat through philosophy lectures on never attaining certainty that the days of the week will continue in their usual order.
I don’t even know what to caption this.
Moneybags Jim goes over to the cages and bribes the counterman to rent the entire place. He turns the ball machine to 90 mph and stands in front of the plate, but chickens out at the last second. He again tries to man up and stand in front of the ball to make a catch and manages to catch all of the balls. Just like my ex-wife! RIMSHOT. Finally, he lets one strike him in his chest.
Stephanie is still wandering around the living Michael Crichton novel that she calls a workplace when her boss Dr. King calls her for a meeting. It is at this point I realize where I have seen him before.
Where can you go when the world don’t treat you right?
He says that her work on the plant has intrigued the board and wants to get drinks with them, but wait! That would mean canceling her dinner! WHAT’S A WORKING GIRL TO DO?
Jim has called token black friend to check out his powers, and then whips out a gun and asks him to shoot him. I hope token black friend has taken a freshman health class and know what to do in this situation! Tell Jim it’s not the answer!
Stephanie calls to bail on date night, but Jim, as with any male who just discovered he has superpowers, is no longer interested in his wife. Now he’s really into getting dominated by black guys.
Oh yeah, baby. Take out that gun.
As Stephanie is running to her car, she suddenly takes off, Flash-style. “In the world of science, we call it an explained phenomenon,” she says. Guess what? We morons who watch TV all day call it that too, bitch. Just because you work with the Rev. Camden doesn’t make you better than me. Him, yes. You, no. Anyways, she ends up randomly in the middle of the freeway, which is a terrific way to get killed, super speed or not.
Jim says that his plan is to pretend nothing has changed, and just keep meeting George (token black friend) in secret. Also just like me and my ex-wife! RIMSHOT AGAIN. George has now convinced Jim to jump off a building to see if he can fly, and because Jim is actually turning out to be the craziest/whiniest protagonist ever, he goes along with it. And I just want to say AGAIN the music is only several steps above any Disney channel original movie involving some random supermodel that inexplicably needs to live with a precosious young girl and her nice-guy single dad. So he runs and jumps and plummets into the pavement, Wile E. Coyote style, but a nice side effect of being basically invincible is that this fails to phase him. So then he jumps back on the building. It’s supposed to be really dramatic and exciting, but in this day and age we’re really just watching the first ten minutes of any superhero movie. Everyone who vaguely Googled the show before it started knows all of this already, so let’s move on, huh?
One day he’ll catch that roadrunner.
Stephanie decides she needs her own George, so she decides to confide in some random lab tech who will be playing the role of awesome comic relif tonight. There’s an exchange about firing her and then about them being best friends, but it culminates in the big reveal. AND THEN IT’S MONTAGE TIME!
I can honestly say this is the weirdest show I’ve ever watched, it terms of genre. Comedy? Action? Drama? This blends it all together and adds the worst music this side of the live Dancing with the Stars singers.
The montage shows the two girls leaving work early and heading to the racetrack (FINALLY, characters I can identify with), where wacky sidekick girl clocks her at a speed of 718 mph. She continues to think almost exactly like me by suggesting that Stephanie use this new power to enter the Olympics and become rich and famous, but Steph is more interested in making time for her husband and consuming massive amounts of calories. I half blame her.
She heads home to her son Johnny McNolines and they begin working on homework problems about trains and speeds. How ordinary! They should have just called this show America Loves Incongruity Theory.
“I’m sure you have lines SOMEWHERE in this episode.”
The orgy of new powers and one-dimensonal friends continues as Jim tries to convince George that now he can help stop “the psychos in Obama masks killing innocent people.” Unless this is a veiled and vaguely conservative attack on healthcare death panels, I’m at a loss.
Then Steph calls and she totally wants Jim’s Thing, if you catch my drift. And like two seconds later they’re done. Man, he’s fast too! ZING!
He WOULD like to cuddle.
And Jesus Christ, Jim has decided this is ANOTHER perfect time to discuss how things haven’t gone as he planned. WE GET IT. THis episode is the longest goddamn interduction I have ever seen. Where the fuck is my plot? Conflict? Character building?
So then he gets a call from George, who for some reason took his police radio, and it looks like the Obama Mask Gang is at it again. Jim switches into HERO MODE. Finally, something is happening!
Instructions to pick up anyone who looked like this guy were met with extreme awkwardness.
He goes flying around the city and finally jumps on the car carrying the robber, ripping off the door and roughing the guy up. Another Obama shoots at him and the bullets smash into the back of his neck, but he starts bleeding! OMG! Is this the shortest-lived superhero ever?
Commercial break, and George has brought Jim back to their home. Steph contines her annoying little habit of retrieveing things from other rooms to share her secret with Jim, and then they both discuss their powers and trace it back to the airplane. But just then, they get a call from Daphne! I don’t think any scene in this episode has lasted longer than like thirty seconds.
Daphne says that before her basketball game she spots that whore and Mean Girls her to stay away from her man, but then she can hear the whore’s thoughts. AND THEN SHE CAN HEAR EVERYONE’S THOUGHTS!
Another lightning-fast scene change and Jim ans Steph sit down the kids for an intense discussion about their changing bodies. JJ, the Scrappy Doo of the group, is pissed that he appears powerless, and bitchy Daphne chimes in that because her telepathy only happened once she’s just as much of a loser. 1.) NO ONE is a much of a loser as JJ, and 2.) You’re pissed you could only read people’s minds ONCE? What is the matter with this ungrateful generation?
So she lays out how much she hates all these people (which is sort of what I’ve been doing for the last forty minutes) and then everyone cries and says she’s right. OH MY GOD I’M DYING FOR SOMETHING NEW TO HAPPEN AND IT’S THE FIRST EPISODE.
Down at the station, Jim turns in an extremely accurate drawing of the jewel perp., but now Detective Cho wants him to GTFO, as evidence by her bitchy one-liners about leaving the crimefighting to people with guns.
And speaking of too much testosterone, Lucas and Daphne are getting cozy on the couch. But suddenly she hears him thinking that he’d rather be cuddling up with Daphne’s sidekick Emily, and instead of being totally into it she gets all bummed out. Chicks, man.
Detective Cho shows up at the house of some chick who dated the perp (this is a pale FlashForward imitation. PALE!) and she denies contact. But that’s blown like two seconds later when he shows up, shoots the random red shirt, and grabs Cho for the road.
This poster makes me chuckle.
Daphne is doing the teen angst thing that she does so well when Steph tries to mother her. She comes clean about the cheating bf thing and breaks down in her mom’s arms, adding Gilmore Girls to the growing list of shows that we’ve now sampled over an hour. “I can’t be a virgin AND a freak,” she whines. Darling, I’m Exhibit freaking A.
Just then JJ enters and mopes EVEN MORE than Daphne, which I never thought was possible, and they all hug. Another great family moment. Coincidence that Jim is nowhere around?
Dangerous robber is in the parking garage when Jim shows up, but he Nightcrawlers up and starts teleporting around Jim! OMG, finally a villain! They have a Matrix-y fight, in which we learn that teleporting > muscles. But then he gets shot by Detective Cho, who officially becomes the worst actress ever with her casual, “what are you doing here, pal?” Like, let’s amp up the enthusiasm, huh Christina Chang?
Steph tells Jim how great he is and always was, and the whole thing is just soooo sappy. They swear off their crazy life of crimefighting (in episode 1? really?) and embrace.
JJ is in class and suddenly he’s really good at math. Dude, you still got screwed as far as superpowers as far as I’m concerned.
Ladies, start disrobing.
George has constructed Jim a lair.
It turns out Jim and Steph have been talking to the marriage counselor this whole time. He agrees their work is cut out for them. As is ours, America. As is ours.
Oh, and then Dr. King/Rev Camden is really very evil. That completely redeems this show.
What say you all? Was I too tough on it? I honestly thought is was pretty mediocre.