No Ordinary Family is without a doubt one of the most successful attempts to bring family viewing back to the 8pm time slot in numerous years; oh, and it is major fun for adults as well. I wouldn’t sell No Ordinary Family short by trying to push in one box, or another, the fact is this show is just all around watchable; you have a talented cast oozing with chemistry, compelling but carefully measured mystery, and story telling with a focus on characters dealing with archetypal themes that everyone will be able to relate with. If you’re not watching, I suggest you tune in tonight at 8pm on ABC and give it a try.
I had the pleasure of speaking with No Ordinary Family’s Michael Chiklis and Julie Benz about what makes the show tick.
First of all, I love the show. The thing I love about the show is the on-screen couple and family is so believable, what’s your secret to pulling that off so well?
Julie Benz: I think we really like each other. Michael and I both have a very similar approach to our work and it kind of helps create a really good energy between us because we really work very similar in our approach and there’s no, like, butting heads.
Michael Chiklis: Right, true. We’re just going at the work the same way so it just makes it sort of so much smoother and easier and we have fun.
What was the casting process like for putting the family together, was it any more intense than anything else you’ve worked on or did it just kind of fall in place?
Michael Chiklis: Well I was very integral in that process. I was the first on board and that was just a straight offer that came from Greg Berlanti and Jon Feldman. Very flattering and lovely of them to just reach out to me and offer me the role. I lit up to the script and the notion of this show in general and then they were extremely welcoming in terms of my collaboration with them, in terms of casting the rest of the show. I think that they realized that as the lead of the show to have people around me that I felt really strongly about and comfortable with, they really really were interested in my input. I think it went incredibly smooth finding Julie and thinking about Julie for this role was kind of a, in a lot of ways, a no-brainer. Aside from being really really talented and obviously lovely, I think one of Julie’s greatest assets is that she’s just so likable you just can’t help but like her. It’s true. I mean she just is fun and funny and smart and witty. And people, my instinct was, people are really going to like her and they’re really going to embrace her. And with the others, Kay Panabaker is just like a scary talented young actress. Romany Malco, it happened like this; Greg Berlanti called me and said, “What do you think of Romany Malco?” And I went, “Oh my God, make the offer.” And so, that’s how that went. And Jimmy, I really wasn’t very familiar, he was probably the one I was the least familiar with in terms of his work but he just, these are kids in the show, as Julie said in an earlier interview today, they’re far from kids, they’re really great talents.
Julie Benz: Very accomplished actors in their own right and have done an amazing body of work already. That they come to this as more like colleagues and less like children.
Michael Chiklis: Right and I don’t want to leave out Autumn Reeser who’s just an effervescent bubble and just amazing to be around and brilliantly talented. So I just feel like we’re armed with this tremendous cast that’s really capable of doing really so many different things in a broad spectrum, whether they want to go to the dark side in the show or the light side and everything in between in nuance character work. I feel like we’re more than armed with a cast and a crew that can deliver that. And now it’s really become about the tenor of the shows and the tone of the shows themselves.
One thing I love about this show is I can watch it with my kids and it inspires such imagination, yet there is an adult layer to it – albeit appropriate for children. With the show sampling a later airtime in November, is there a drive to skew it more towards the adult viewer? I hope not …
Michael Chiklis: This show is a family show at its core and will remain so, that’s our intent. I think that it would work at nine o’clock, but eight o’clock really seems to be the right time for us, whether that is eight o’clock on Tuesday I’m not all together sure. But I’m really… You know, the common wisdom in television is that it’s really next to impossible to self-start as it were a series at eight o’clock against established mega hits, but we’ve seemed to broken the conventional wisdom and broken through in an incredibly competitive time slot and are finding a really strong audience. And whether we’ll stay there remains to be seen, that’s really in the network’s hands. But as far as the tone of the show I think we’re always going to be a family show but we’re going to paint on a large canvas, a broad canvas, that allows us to go to the dark side and to the light side while remaining sort of family friendly all the time.
The powers you guys get seem to answer some latent need in your characters. If this happened in real life, what powers would you get?
Julie Benz: I would love to have super speed like Stephanie just because I hate sitting in traffic but I think what I… What I lack [laughter] is I would… I lack… I lack the power to be able to read people so that I would… I would probably end up getting mind reading, unfortunately.
Michael Chiklis: What I would need personally is the power to relieve joint pain.
Julie Benz: I would love to get super metabolism. I’m a huge foodie and I could really use that super metabolism.
Michael Chiklis: Listen to this… Listen to this from the size 0.
Julie Benz: No I’m not a size 0. I’m not. I’m not. I would eat… I love to eat but I would eat a lot more if I had a higher metabolism. [laughter]