Take Me to the Pilots '10: ABC's 'No Ordinary Family'
[As I've already mentioned, and will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots.]
Show: "No Ordinary Family," ABC
The Pitch: The first season of "Heroes" meets "Modern Family"
Quick Response: It's hard to remember now, but people weren't wrong to like "Heroes" in its first season. There was a charming innocence to the show and a pleasure in watching ordinary people discover extra-ordinary powers. The pilot of "No Ordinary Family" has that same charm and innocence. It's bright, funny and fully invested in the subtext of what it means to suddenly have super-strength, super-speed or to be able to hear people's thoughts. It's a great cast, with Michael Chiklis jettisoning Vic Mackey (though not Ben Grimm) and with Julie Benz effectively and appealingly ditching the breathless mannerisms that used to make Rita really annoying on "Dexter." Romany Malco steals his scenes and if the show is wise, he'll remain central. Some structural tics in the pilot aren't necessary and it's unclear if talking heads will be a component going forward. Greg Berlanti's name on the pilot? Good sign. Jon Feldman's ("Big Shots") name on the pilot? Hmmm... Like "Heroes," it's easy to watch this pilot and see ways an unfolding series could go right and ways an unfolding series could go wrong. As long as they follow the "Incredibles" template and keep the focus on the family, it should be OK (and hopefully better-than-OK). [This one is undergoing recasting, with Christina Chang exiting, which seems fine, as she wasn't a problem in the pilot, but she also wasn't memorable.]
Desire To Watch Again: High. There's a reason ABC is so optimistic on this one. The network has had drama development difficulties in recent seasons, but this feels like a potential breakout.