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Although the lead characters in ABC's "No Ordinary Family" have super abilities, they're still no match for the juggernaut that is the Nielsen ratings. Add the possible defection of the star of the series and this could be the end of the powerful Powell family.
Michael Chiklis, who plays patriarch Jim Powell, reportedly has taken the lead role in "Vince Uncensored," a project being developed by Conan O'Brien for CBS. Fans of "No Ordinary Family" are wondering if Chiklis has seen the cancellation writing on the wall. A veteran of such shows as "The Commish" and "The Shield," Chiklis knows the industry well, but he also may be hedging his bets while awaiting word on the fate of "Family."
With "No Ordinary Family" recently drawing an estimated 4 million viewers, the show has been on the ratings bubble for some time. The writing and characters are so sharp, however, that it really deserves a second season to grow and develop. The producers and writers just have to avoid some of the comic book clichés that damaged the first season, especially the stereotypical mastermind and his evil villains.
Chiklis has been consistently good as Jim, a frustrated police sketch artist who wants to do more to stop crime than just draw pictures. After an unexpected dip in the Amazon River, Powell can lift 11,000 pounds, leap like a kangaroo on steroids, and deflect most bullets. So he did what every red-blooded American man would do — namely, become a superhero.
Julie Benz complements Chiklis as wife Julie, a scientist who can run upwards of 700 mph. Both Julie and Jim learn the limitations of their powers, especially after he takes a bullet in the skull and she loses her footing while traveling at high speed down a public road. The Julie/Jim dynamic kept the first season fresh for a very long time.
To paraphrase Doc Brown from "Back to the Future," however, something has got to be done about their kids. Kay Panabaker plays daughter Daphne, a high school student who, after her Amazon bath, can read minds. Throughout the first season, Daphne's powers have evolved a bit to include delving deeper into someone's thoughts and out-and-out mind control. Daphne is still something of a whiner, complaining about curfews and sneaking out of the house. She's also prone to using her abilities for personal gain.
For a kid with a super brain, JJ (Jimmy Bennett) does some truly dumb things, which is sad for one of the more intriguing characters on "No Ordinary Family." After struggling with a learning disability, JJ now can analyze chemical formulas and mathematical equations at a glance, solving them in an instant. Yet he wastes those powers on football games, horse racing, and trying to gain the affections of a smart and pretty classmate.
If "No Ordinary Family" is saved from extinction, the creative forces behind the show need to clean some things up. First and foremost, resolve the whole mystery of the superpowers theme that dominated the first season. After wrapping up those loose ends, decide how to handle the family. Jim Powell needs to drop the super-strong Ward Cleaver shtick and draw the whole family into his crime fighting. Season 2 of "No Ordinary Family" needs hit the superhero gym hard if it's going to make it.