NO ORDINARY FAMILY
Jim Powell -
Stephanie Powell -
Daphne Powell -
JJ Powell -
Mitch McCutcheon -
OTHER SUPERHERO SHOWS
Birds of Prey
The Powells are a family in meltdown. Stephanie is a workaholic and the kids are drifting away from dad Jim. When he forces them all to join Stephanie's research trip to South America, they are involved in a plane crash. Something in the water they landed in gives Jim superstrength and Stephanie superspeed. Daphne can read minds and JJ gains a superbrain, but doesn't want anyone to know.
HEROES successfully mined the ordinary people with superpowers set up for its first season, but then went off the rails and never found its way back. This new show tries to fuse that same concept with a family orientated plotline. In this opening episode, the adults discover that they have these superpowers and struggle to find what it means for them after the initial delight. Jim is a sketch artist for the police and wants to use his powers to fight crime. Stephanie finds that she has time for everyone now that she can move superfast. For the kids it's not so easy as Daphne finds that being telepathic is just one more reason for kids at school to think that she's a geek and JJ's sudden improvement in grades is put down to cheating.
This is an origin story and so there is a certain amount of set up to get through, but it's handled pretty well before we get onto the real matter of superpowers. The delight of the two adults is infectious and it certainly doesn't hurt that the two leads are eminently likeable in their own right and have good comedy support in the shape of comedy relief Katie and George. There isn't anything that we haven't seen before here in the superhero set up stakes and the fact that the mother happens to work for an international conglomerate that makes its fortune out of genetic research has to be some kind of clue as to where the intrigue is going to come from, especially as it seems that the CEO has already got superpowered people at his command.
It's a solid, if unspectacular, start to the show, but there is always room for improvement.Top
Whilst Jim is trying to train his new abilities and use them in the fight against crime, having promised his wife that he wouldn't, she is learning what happens when she hits something at speed and uses her own powers for personal gain, not least in organising the school fair. Daphne looks for a way to drown out the mental voices and JJ continues to keep his secret.
The limits of the family's powers are starting to come into view as both Jim and Stephanie start to rely on them more. His crimefighting proves to be somewhat uncertain whilst she falls over at high speed. The very minor injuries that she receives as a result (try rolling along a tarmacked road at a hundred miles an hour and see if you just get a skin burn) are explained away by her fast-healing metabolism.
This story, though, is really about the importance of family and not putting work first. What we really are and who we really want to be are important to us, but are they more important that those we love? The show knows what it thinks the answer is and lays it on with a trowel.Top
Jim and Stephanie are mugged at a wedding party. Jim sets out to get back the engagement ring that was taken and finds that his powers don't necessarily make up for the failings of the justice system. Stephanie has to gain access to a high security lab to get a tainted sample of blood back.
Lying is bad and will just get you into deeper and deeper trouble until you have to do some really bad things to get yourself out of the mess that you have created. That's the message of this episode and if there was any way of hammering home that message any more obviously then it would probably come with its own mushroom cloud. The crimefighting story isn't very exciting and the raid on the security lab is disappointing. These, though, don't even begin to suck like the story of JJ turning jewish and Daphne failing to connect with a friend who needs her.
If the show is planning to be this po-faced and pious all the way through then it is unlikely to do well.Top
Daphne and JJ are both ordinary kids who want to be liked. JJ finds that his superbrain makes his great at football and Daphne's telepathy gets her into an exclusive party. Jim, meanwhile, struggles with whether he is a vigilante or not and Stephanie comes up with information about their powers.
Our children are our future and our main responsibility and should be put before a parent's own needs for fear of losing them. This message couldn't be more obvious were it in 20 foot high neon pink letters in every scene of the episode. It seems that the show is picking a moral for each episode and then constructing a story around it and that is not interesting and not fun.
Jim's struggle with being likened to a vigilante who is killing people is so obviously manipulative that you just want to slap, despite what you'd get back.Top
Jim and Stephanie finally learn about JJ's mental powers. Jim also learns that the earthquakes hitting the area are caused by a girl with powers and Stephanie learns that her company was involved in research connected to superpowers. Daphne struggles with doing the right thing about something she 'overheard' at school.
Secrets are bad and will only hurt people. That's the lesson for this week children and it is conveyed with the usual sledgehammer lack of subtlety. Everyone has a secret and life would have been easier if everyone had just revealed what they knew. It's like a sermon in science fiction television form.
At least the face offs between Jim and the girl with the sonic hands is the stuff of real superhero stories.Top
Stephanie's obnoxious parents come for a surprise visit and the family are forced to keep their powers a secret, leading to misunderstandings and danger.
Awful parents, keeping powers secret, making decisions between right and wrong, when to keep quiet and when to speak. This is the core of the latest morality tale from the Powell household and without the obnoxious parents (clearly borrowed from Ross and Monica in FRIENDS) and their barbed comments this would be as dull as the proverbial ditch water.Top
George's girlfriend is attacked by a criminal that they failed to prosecute successfully. Jim wants to help, but in doing so puts his identity at risk. Meanwhile, JJ tries to make Katie feel good through online dating and Stephanie's boss starts to suspect that she knows more than she is telling.
It seems harsh to complain about unlikely things happening in a show about a family possessing super powers, but the coincidence of having the family's stalker hiding in the shadows at the point where Jim takes on George's nemesis goes beyond the suspension of disbelief.
Amy Acker (ANGEL and DOLLHOUSE) appears briefly as George's luckless would be girlfriend, but the rest of the episode is predictable and only vaguely entertaining. Daphne's encounter with a young man she fancies is going over old ground for her character except that it's a boy. JJ's online adventure with Katie is just stupid.Top
JJ's maths teacher is stepping up the pressure on him to reveal his cheating, so when he is wounded in an accident caused by carjackers that Jim failed to stop when his powers failed, JJ persuades his mother into drastic action.
This is another underwhelming story that fails to ignite any sort of excitement or even interest. Jim losing his powers ought to be more dramatic than it is and JJ's actions to save his teacher ought to have more punch, but somehow it all fails to come together.
As for Daphne's continuing romantic stumblings, well they are tedious in the extreme.Top
Jim and Stephanie go on a date for their anniversary, leaving the kids home alone for the first time. Whilst JJ tries to sort out a poker game to fund his new computer, the parents find themselves having to take on a man with the power to start fires who is running amok in the city.
Finally, the two parents get to do some action stuff as they take on the firestarter, a duel that at least has some merit to it if only for the slow motion flame effects, but the poker game back at the house is just plain boring.
Despite the best efforts of the likeable cast this still underwhelms.Top
George accidentally gets the credit and serious publicity as a result of Jim foiling a dry cleaning store robbery. Stephanie asks Katie about her new boyfriend and causes offence. JJ finds a club for smart people interferes with his powers and Daphne's telepathy puts her at risk.
Friends fall out and make up all the time and they generally do it in a way that isn't worthy of dramatisation. This is the case here. The two main strands are dull, and that's being kind to them. An attempt to spice them up by intercutting the break up conversation doesn't help any at all.
JJ finding himself a club of his peers and a pretty girl is even worse on the dullometer scale and only Daphne's encounter with the villain of the piece has anything remotely interesting about it.Top
When Jim saves a man from being hit by a bus, the Powells find themselves as friends of the man's family. They like hanging out with a normal family and find that they really like them, so when the art thief plaguing the local museum turns out to be connected with them Jim and Stephanie have difficult decisions to make.
So, in a city of how many million Jim just happens to save the life of the man who he might be spending his nights chasing around the museum? Talk about your major coincidence. It's far too much to get over so the rest of the plot fails utterly to impress and the ethical decisions that the Powell parents are left with turn out to be not so hard to make.
This is all fantastic storytelling when compared with the kids' high school tedium, but the show is also able to make the most interesting story (Katie dating a killer) and make that borderline uninteresting too.Top
Jim's ne'er do well brother shows up and discovers about the family's powers, which he immediately tries to use for his own benefit, placing Jim in a very awkward position.
How many cliches can one show fit into a forty five minute running time. Jim's brother is a failure, in debt to some bad people, is not above using JJ's power to win horse races and make some serious cash. He is also, of course, ripe for redemption by having a pregnant girlfriend and thus impending fatherhood to help him grow up.
It's painfully familiar and, well, just painful. If it weren't for the prospect of losing Katie to her own lab in Florida, the episode would have had no interest whatsoever.Top
Daphne and JJ get detention, which proves to be somewhat eventful. Stephanie gets caught in a lockdown with Katie and Joshua and a woman who can look like anyone she wants. Jim is caught in a hostage siege.
Jim's story is DIE HARD with an invincible guy and is blatant enough to actually namecheck the film that it is utterly ripping off. The kids at school is THE BREAKFAST CLUB without the wit, the charm or the class actors. Steph having to choose between Katies...well it's been done everywhere. The lack of originality of this show is scaling huge new heights.
Sadly, it's not a patch on any of its sources.Top
Jim shows incredible double standards in his kids dating schedules, but he and Stephanie are locked in a competition to find otu who attacked Stephanie's friend and how he gained access.
Stephanie finally comes to know that her boss is the big bad villain of the piece as secrets start to come out in this episode. This means that the main plotline might now be able to start moving.
The kids and their dating issues remain utterly tedious, getting in the way of the rather fun battle of the sexes thing going on between Jim/George and Stephanie/Katie. Daphne discovers a new side to her powers, but that's only fair seeing as Katie's boyfriend's list of powers seem to grow every time the writers need a way out of a problem.Top
Dr King's shapeshifter sets about impersonating the Powells in order to find out how they came into their powers. Jim starts to investigate King and JJ starts to investigate the murder of his girlfriend's mother.
The central storyline of the shapeshifter playing the Powells in order to learn their secrets is fine, especially when it culminates in a fun fight between Jim and Jim, but the support story of JJ and Daphne trying to track down the killer of JJ's girlfriend's mother is utterly tedious, completely unbelievable and a total waste of time.Top
Joshua proposes to Katie and someone steals Stephanie's serum at the party. Jim accidentally wounds a man with a deflected bullet.
The moment that Joshua proposes to Katie it is clear that this is not going to end well and so it proves. At least there is a smackdown between Jim and his newly empowered supervillain to give some sort of entertainment value to an otherwise formulaic episode.
The most interesting aspect, the innocently injured man is just forgotten and then given a stupidly saccharine excuse for an ending.Top
George's new girlfriend Sophie turns out to be a talented woman with the power to make men do what she wants through pheremones. When she meets Jim, however, she transfers her affections and has him steal some very special items.
The introduction of a new nemesis for Doctor King is the only interesting thing in this episode. It has a BATTLESTAR GALACTICA in the shape of guest appearances by Tricia Helfer and Lucy Lawless, but the stunt casting doesn't make much difference.
It also doesn't make much sense. Sophie has Jim deliver a bomb for her to Dr King's facility. If all she wanted was to destroy it then why didn't she have Jim steal cruise missile or something?Top
The murderer that was saved by Dr King's formula is now a superpowered animal in the employ of the mysterious woman who wants to destroy King's work. He targets the Powells for death and Stephanie is his first victim. Only an infusion of the serum can save her, but what will that do to her and her powers?
Eric Balfour (HAVEN) is the guest star here and the focus around him makes the storyline more streamlined and less scatalogical than usual. Katie might learn that she has powers all of a sudden as a side issue, but there is only the one main story and it includes a half decent smackdown between Jim and the animal man.
The coda regarding Dr King and the mystery woman doesn't make any sense, but that could be explained and what has happened to Stephanie as the cliffhanger definitely needs explaining.Top
The dose of serum that Stephanie was given to save her life has boosted her powers to the point where she can run into the future. The future that she has run into, however, is one where Jim has been arrested and the her children are on the run for her life. It might have something to do with an attempt on George's life.
The other recent superhero show HEROES made a habit of showing a dark future and then setting about changing it and that's the whole concept of this story. It's a perfectly fine concept except that Stephanie suddenly becomes invisible in the future. That also might be explicable were it not for the fact that she can interact with it in other ways such as opening doors etc.
Another disappointment is the return of the shapeshifter, brought back to life by Lucy Lawless' villainess in order to get information about Katie. Even death isn't a problem in this show apparently.
And for once Daphne's lovelife is not tedious and irrelevant.Top
JJ is needed to solve the biochemical algorithm to make superpowers permanent, but he simply can't and is kidnapped as a result. The family go after him, but they are not only up against Dr King, but his villainess boss as well.
It's the season finale and the show has to come up with both a way to tie up existing storylines, but open up others to take the show forward. As a result, neither is particularly successful. The action fails to excite, as it has throughout the show, despite the presence of an electric man, an unkillable Dr King and lots and lots of guards.
The supporting characters of Katie and George are the ones we most care about and their fates are the ones that matter. That's a sign of the show's ultimate failure. If we can't care about the central family how can we care about the show?Top
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