No Ordinary Family episode 6 review: No Ordinary Visitors

Billy's frustration with the path the writers are taking this very ordinary family reaches new heights…

This review contains spoilers.

5. No Ordinary Visitors

I’m starting to really despair with this show, because the writers have somehow convinced themselves that they can have both a dramatic show with genuine threats and a lightweight knock-about comedy in the same package.

No Ordinary Visitors had two plotlines, one of which was a dark one about criminals who invade a home and attack a family, and another that appeared to be borrowed from an episode of Friends. The dramatic story was mildly interesting, but the annoying relatives narrative was painful from beginning to end.

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As is the fashion for introducing parents into shows, they have to be recognisable actors, and here Cybill Shepherd and Bruce McGill turn up uninvited as Barbara and Allan Crane, the parents of Stephanie Powell (Julie Benz).

I’ve seen some good performances from Cybill Shepherd over the years, and her comic timing can be excellent (as it was in Cybill), but here she’s wheeled on to play the uber-bitch in a manner that had me wondering if she was reading from cue cards. But Bruce McGill doesn’t actually get any more meat on his plate either, and he’s as annoying as the irritating bartender character (or God, if you like) that he got to be in Quantum Leap.

Both of these characters come out with such bile on their in-laws that I found it entirely unbelievable that either Jim or Stephanie would put up with them, but they do, like they’re entirely restrained by the ironwork of a family relationship. Please! I was waiting for Jim to punch Allan, but what we’re given instead is Jim’s joy in using JJ to beat him on the pool table, which was hardly a substitute for a super left hook. The small victory was further depressed by Allan’s seeming indifference to losing his classic car to a child who can’t drive.

What it left me with was that, far from being ‘No Ordinary Family’, the Powells are excessively mundane, possibly to the point of catatonia.

What annoys me most is that this show started with lots of potential, a competent cast and a slightly quirky take on a superhero world. But what it’s so far boiled down to is the occasional super act, wall to wall family bickering, and comedy so light that it makes Friends seem like a live Eddie Murphy in full flood.

If this is what the show’s creative team intended from the outset, they’ve executed it flawlessly, but I think their strategy is entirely misplaced.

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At this point, unless they take the training wheels off this show in a hurry, I can see that the rest of the season is going to be a painful trudge to inevitable TV oblivion.

I’d love to be wrong about this and see the viewing audience soar as they deliver gripping storylines and super-daring-do, but at my heart, I’m entirely convinced that what I’m much more likely to get is JJ getting super-zits and George unable to get off a single story roof without a self help program.

Read our review of episode 5, No Ordinary Earthquake, here.

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