Review of NO ORDINARY FAMILY- No Ordinary Anniversary (2010)

It is all fun and games until someone ends up dead

Jim (Michael Chiklis) and Steph (Julie Benz) turned a simple anniversary dinner into a night of superhero crime-fighting fun. However, the fun and games ended when the bad guy died. For it is one thing to stop crimes and catch bad guys; it is another to take a life. As Jim told Steph, he normally just stops the criminals and they get arrested. Watching someone die at your own hand is not an experience to wish on anyone. They may have saved many lives by stopping an out-of-control arsonist, but the price was blood on their hands. Bullets and speeding cars may not stop Jim, but a guilty conscious might.

So while the elder Powells were learning the difference between playing superheroes and actually having to be superheroes, the younger Powells were trying to use their abilities to make their lives a little easier. J.J. (Jimmy Powell) decided to exploit the bullies tormenting him at school by fleecing them at poker, promising a portion of the proceeds to Daphne (Kay Panabaker) if she helped with her mind-reading abilities. Just in the nick of time, Katie (Autumn Reeser) arrived to break up the illicit gambling, which gave Watcher (Josh Stewart) — still posing as Will — the opportunity to snoop through the Powell’s house.

It was a night of self-discovery as Steph learned how addictive the adrenaline rush was playing superhero, but then discovered how dangerous it really was. Jim also had to face the dark side of his superhero efforts. Previously, he had only to worry about his own safety, but with Steph involved, he had to worry about her — and he never thought to worry about the villain’s safety. He had not considered what it would feel like to take a life. Then J.J. and Daphne learned yet again that using their own powers for personal gain comes at a price – for they failed to protect their parent’s anniversary statute which shattered in the midst of the scrambling to hide their gambling shenanigans. And Will and Dr. Francis Chiles (Reggie Lee) blearned a few secrets that everyone probably wished they did not know about by simply snooping around.

Both Steph and Dr. King (Stephen Collins) were a bit careless in protecting their secrets. Steph should not keep a diary in her bedroom dress drawer that chronicles her family’s special abilities and Dr. King should not be so cavalier about disposing of his secret serum that gives people special abilities. Such secrets need to be kept under lock and key, for you never know who may be watching or snooping around.

Carelessness and lack of foresight came back to haunt all of them — and they have not all yet learned how painful the repercussions will be.

What Worked

It was fun discovering that Jim had yet another aspect of his abilities, which now includes being fire-retardant. If the Powells are still developing new abilities, it shows that they are either mutating or being genetically enhanced somehow. While the others with abilities seem to rely on injections of a substance which gives them abilities — and only for a limited duration of time — the Powell’s abilities seem to be getting stronger and more diverse. This would suggest a genetic element and not simply exposure to a substance. For when Dr. King told Will, “Don’t worry. It’s not forever, just long enough to remind you what it’s like to be normal again,” up until that point, we all assumed Watcher had permanent abilities, like the Powells. What a fascinating revelation to learn he was only human after all.

And why did Will/Watcher not tell Dr. King what he learned about the Powells? He has seen Jim and Steph both demonstrate their abilities and he must have felt Daphne trying to read his mind. What does he hope to gain by keeping that knowledge to himself?

Just as fun as it was watching Jim discover his new ability, it was also fun watching Steph discover how empowered she felt helping Jim take down the bad guy. When she hit the arsonist with the pipe and told Jim sweetly, “Happy anniversary,” we could just feel the elation and glee that she felt. Thus, it was then funny when Jim had to remind her that they needed to hide in order to keep their secret identity safe. His wry, “Welcome to my world” comment was perfect as they hid from the cops.

Even George (Romany Malco) got in a funny moment when he flippantly told Jim, “Check the fine print of the manual you never received which says ‘superheroes never get the night off.'” Romany Malco is a treasure to delivering the best punchlines.

Lastly, the marble statute that Jim made for Steph for their anniversary was truly beautiful. It truly symbolize their love and it did it in a very poignant way. Made us all wish we had someone in our lives that were that that thoughtful and loving.

What Didn’t Work

While Daphne may have not wanted to worry Katie by telling her the truth about not being able to read Will’s thoughts, it is time that the Powells started developing a sense that if something feels out of place or off in a funny way that they need to share that information and figure it out why. The world is a dangerous place and they need to share knowledge to protect each other.

Then, as funny as it is that Katie keeps an autographed picture of President Rosalin from “Battlestar Galactica” in a fire safe at her apartment, it some times feels like the show is stretching the fact that Katie is a super geek to the point of incredulity. That being said, it was still a nice shout-out to a beloved sci-fi series.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

“No Ordinary Anniversary” was written by Kate Barnow and Elizabeth Finch, and directed by David Semel. “No Ordinary Family” stars Michael Chiklis, Julie Benz, Kay Panabaker, Jimmy Bennett, Autumn Reeser, Romany Malco, Stephen Collins, Josh Stewart. “No Ordinary Family” airs Tuesdays at 8:00 pm ET on ABC.

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