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‘No Ordinary Family’ – No Ordinary Ring

Living an extraordinary life is losing some of its luster

This article may contain spoilers.

It has been said that there is magic in ordinary moments. For the Powells, living an extraordinary life is a novelty … but it is wearing off. They are starting to remember how wonderfully normal their lives were before they learned they had abilities.

Jim (Michael Chiklis) wants to a crime-fighter, but he really has no training. Steph (Julie Benz) wants to be able to do it all, be a super mom and super employee, but there is a price tag tied to that wish. Daphne (Kay Panabaker) wants to be able talk to a friend about her telepathic abilities and not feel as burdened. J.J. (Jimmy Bennett) just wants to find out if the girl he likes feels the same way and thinks the best way to impress her is to change religions.

Living up to the saying, “be careful what you wish for,” every time you get what you want, you learn how getting what you want has strings attached or unwanted repercussions.

Jim cannot keep just popping up at crime scenes and tackling bad guys without evidence. Steph cannot think that being super fast will get her out of every jam. Daphne cannot use her mind-reading abilities and tell people what she hears or they will think she is a freak. And J.J. needs to stop thinking that the way to win girls and make friends is to try to outsmart or out-think them all.

The Powell family may have extraordinary abilities, but even those abilities cannot protect them from their own naiveté. They need to understand the limits of their abilities, who they can trust with their secret, and to be better prepared for when things go askew with their good intentions. They all need to practice at being careful and have a game plan to keep them all safe. Has Jim already forgotten that there are others out there with abilities too?

What Worked

Jim’s frustration over not being able to be the super-hero/crime-fighter he wants to be feels real. Just because one suddenly develops an ability does not make them automatically trained to fight crime and protect the world. He felt impotent that he had been powerless to stop Detective Cho’s (Christina Chang) death. When he said, “My family’s developed super powers and the only friend I had in the police department was found dead last night,” George (Romany Malco) could only softly reply, “You just can’t protect everyone all the time.” It spoke volumes as Jim raged, “I can sure as hell try!”

Not only is Jim frustrated at his inability to stop criminals, he wants people to know what he can do. He wants his peers at the police department to respect him for his abilities. However, as George reminded him, in all the comics, the minute someone finds out, it’s over. Anyone who finds out a super-hero’s true identity immediately has a bulls-eye painted on their back. Knowledge is a dangerous thing and being a friend or confidante of a super-hero only increases the danger level.

Echoing Jim’s frustration was Daphne who so desperately wanted to tell someone about her ability. She thought it was unfair that her parents got to tell their friends, but she could not. Chafing at the restrictions placed on her by carrying this weighty secret, Daphne also did not want to confide in George and Katie (Autumn Reeser). What teenager wants to share their fears and frustrations with their parent’s friends?

As relatable as her resentment was, it only served to make it all the more funny when Daphne elected to confide in George about her concerns about telling J.J. what she found out about the girl he liked.

On a parallel path, Steph has probably begun to regret telling Katie about her ability since Katie, in her haste to help, impersonated Steph during her physical exam — leading to the necessity break into the lab to swap blood samples. As Steph quipped to Jim, “You’re stopping a felony and I’m committing one. Remember when we used to have movie night?” There was a hint of winsomeness behind that remark. Steph is just now wishing that things could be normal again. But this wish may not come true. Fortunately for her, Jim loves her just the way she is, special or not. For as he told her, “I love you for the beauty you see in ordinary things.”

The Powells are no longer ordinary, but they still appreciate ordinary things. The one distinct upside is that before they were special, they were just a fragmented family barely speaking to one another. Now they are working together as a family — a team. They are communicating. They are sharing in each other’s problems. And they are becoming closer than ever before.

When Daphne elected to take up George’s offer to talk, she not only got a sounding-board, but she also discovered that George and her dad were keeping a secret. While it was funny watching George try to think of anything else to prevent her from reading his thoughts, something better came out of it: it gave Daphne a sense of purpose. She was no longer adrift wondering what the heck to do with this new ability, she could figure out what her dad was up to. She was absolutely right when she told him that they cannot keep secrets from one another — because in their “special” world, they are the only ones they can trust and talk to. Just like her dad needs to feel needed, so does she.

Finally, it is worth noting that something is up with the Powells and their fruit consumption. What is with their obsession with apples and oranges? They seem to be always drinking orange juice or grabbing an apple or orange. If they were infected another way besides the phosphorus in the Amazon water, it is probably through all the fruit they consume – food for thought.

What Didn’t Work

While it is funny watching Jim’s lack of dexterity on the dance floor, it was not funny when he landed in one of the wedding cakes. The writers need to not over-emphasize Jim’s clumsiness. We got the message when he missed landing on the building, when he missed the fire escape, and saw his lack of coordination with the dance mix that nearly took out a corner in his kitchen. The wedding case fiasco was over the top and unnecessary. We want to sympathize with Jim, not wish he had not been invited to the party.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

“No Ordinary Ring” was written by Zach Estrin and Marc Guggenheim, and directed by Terry McDonough. “No Ordinary Family” stars Michael Chiklis, Julie Benz, Kay Panabaker, Jimmy Bennett, Autumn Reeser, Romany Malco and Stephen Collins.

“No Ordinary Family” airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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Could they be a Rut-ro! Shaggy
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