No Ordinary Family 1.02 “No Ordinary Marriage” Review

“When you were in art school, did you ever think you’d wind up doing this for a living? You must’ve been really talented.”

“I’m not the stupid one here, JJ. Please don’t treat me like I am.”

Ouch. Before the Powells even had superpowers they were making enemies. And for seemingly no good reason. Jim’s coworker and JJ’s teacher harbor some unreasonable angst toward our heroes. Perhaps we’ll get a deeper look into why as the show continues, but I for one would never treat Jim the way he gets bullied here. Not only is he the sweetest guy in the world, but he looks like he could snap a man in half with his pinkies. And now he can!

“No Ordinary Marriage” managed to be a much tighter episode than the pilot thanks to the lack of an origin story. It chronicled the Powells trying to understand how, when, and even if, they should be using their newfound abilities. After a botched attempt to stop some thieves that resulted in Jim being (hilariously) run over, and Stephanie tripping over some wildly irresponsible tyke’s tricycle while traveling at super speed, the couple came to an agreement that their powers should stay in a lockbox until they better understand what exactly is the nature of them.

Jim’s assistant DA friend, George, seems like he will become a fun sidekick. He’s already invested in a snazzy headquarters from which he can monitor the local ne’er-do-wells and coach Jim on which direction to head in. Their camaraderie is strong and the scene in which George “trains” Jim by repeatedly running him over with a junked out car was great.

Stephanie, while not trying to impress the jerk wife of Jim’s jerk co-worker by helping throw together a fair, spent much of the episode trying to procure a water sample from the Amazonian river her family was plunged into, which presumably granted them their powers. A shipping mishap sent the sample to the Global Tech office 500 miles away in Phoenix, but that’s no problem for our speedster friend. She loads up on Granola bars and goes for a jog to retrieve it.

I must say, I’m liking the style of visual effects that No Ordinary Family is shooting for. Stephanie’s speed running doesn’t necessarily look realistic. It’s more of a hyperrealism that really benefits the tone of the show. The same goes for Jim’s ludicrously expansive jumping abilities, straight out of the game Crackdown. The show is etching out a visual style all its own and in this regard it is setting itself apart from what shows like Heroes have done.

Back to that water sample, though. After some microscope knob-twiddling, Stephanie and her assistant determine that the water sample actually has no special properties other than a naturally occurring phosphorescence. Does this mean that the Powells obtained their powers through some other means? My money is on Global Tech itself, or at least Stephanie’s evil boss, running some sort of experiment on one of its scientists.

The kids didn’t have a whole lot to do this episode. JJ is liking his newfound genius ability, but his teacher accuses him of cheating. He doesn’t want to tell his parents for fear that they will no longer be proud of his good test scores. So instead he sits and reads math books, even though he stated he just naturally knows all this stuff. So is he really learning anything from these books? It’s like Bradley Cooper reading a book on swagger. As for Daphne, she learned how to drown out all the excess thought noise and overcame her iPod dependence, which wasn’t terribly thrilling.

The end saw quite a surprising turn as The Watcher ambushed Jim’s cop friend Yvonne in her apartment. Here we discovered his telekinetic powers as he turned Yvonne’s own gun on her Magneto-style and pulled the trigger. Granted, the shot fired off-screen, so it’s possible that she is still alive. Maybe Jim swooped in at the last second and took the bullet? That’s doubtful, and if she is indeed dead after only two episodes then I’m a bit surprised by the risks this otherwise light show is willing to take.

All in all this was a stronger effort than the pilot. I believe a lot of that had to do with already having characters set into place, much like both the Spiderman and X-Men movie sequels were superior to the first. I’m hoping that Daphne and JJ end up with better things to do than simply survive high school, but Jim and Stephanie’s stories remain engaging. Here’s hoping that next week we can witness some quality family crime fighting bonding going on.

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