This review contains spoilers.
20. No Ordinary Beginning
Waiting for this last instalment of this show was akin to having a long and painful series of dental procedures, having just one left and knowing it would be over soon.
Back when I saw the pilot episode last year, I’d viewed this project with an optimism that was largely unfounded, as it has lurched from one ill conceived rehash of superhero lore to poor emulations of the ‘family at wa’r dynamics of The Incredibles, and the Fantastic Four.
To be fair, No Ordinary Beginning wasn’t as bad as some of the previous stories, but in many respects, it was a distillation of many issues the show has had over the entire season.
We had the return of Joshua, even if Katie appeared to have forgiven him for being a murderer quite easily. The arrival of the super-baby, and resolutions for some of the longer running plot elements like Doctor King, and even an explanation of how the Powells got their powers.
Okay, it still had the nonsensical parts, like how the shapeshifter Victoria just walks away when confronted with powerless Joshua telling her to go. Perhaps Miss X should have sent the Wolverine-lite character, who appears to have disappeared?
But what it lacked was the pay-off that we’d waited 20 episodes to see! When the original Fantastic Four movie came out, I remember the biggest complaint was that we were forced to wait most of the movie to see them work as a team, because we know them more in combination than individually. And that’s the underpinning of the concept, because despite how much they bicker (and boy do they bicker here) we know that, when the chips are down, they’ll come together to prevail. Or, in this case, they’ll all stand around while one of them does something!
Given we’d waited so long for this pay-off, the fact that the show couldn’t actually deliver this most basic element was probably the most disappointing aspect of the series overall.
There was also a sense of denial in the closing segment, which sets up for another season that was obviously not coming, even when this was written and shot. They give George a power. Maybe it’s the ability to be less annoying, we’ll never know. And, the Agents of Shield turn up to recruit the Powells, entirely contradicting the time travel story that predicted the authorities would react in an entirely different way when they found out about their powers.
In defence of the writers, the last few stories not gluing together was probably due to the removal of two entire stories from the schedule. Although, to be honest, it wasn’t an icon of seamless narrative long before these changes.
In the end, No Ordinary Family ended up a definitive example of how not to bring superheroes to TV (along with The Cape), where they became embroiled in the family dynamic rather than the living with powers parts of the story.
All the lowest points came with Daphne and JJ, whose sub-stories were incredibly twee and preachy. JJ started really well. I loved the parts where he worked out that he could play football using his super-brain, but he never did anything as remotely interesting after that. Daphne was pretty dire throughout, a succession of shallow relationships and entirely obvious, even to a teenage brain, mistakes.
Given that Michael Chiklis has now got a job on the CBS comedy, Vince Uncensored, and he’s a producer of No Ordinary Family, the runes have been cast on this production.
The official death notice will probably come in May, but I’d be stunned (as would Chiklis, it seems) if this got another season.
No Ordinary Family wasn’t good, didn’t get better, and it won’t be missed by this reviewer.
Read our review of episode 19, No Ordinary Future, here.
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