Tuesday, October 12, 2010

No Ordinary Family as Compared to Heroes

It's hard not to compare the two shows "No Ordinary Family" and "Heroes." They're both very uniquely grounded takes on superherodom and they both explore characters faced with the ramifications of suddenly having superpowers and the consequences therein.

The main upside of NOF is that the stories are a lot tighter. Heroes had about 10 disparate characters at any given time and I was only interested in about 3 of them (the cop who read minds, the Indian who's father had something to do with it all and Hiro). This show compresses all of it into one family and essentially one storyline. There are also two sidekicks (Romany Malco and Autumn Reeser) who make the show better with every minute of screen time they get. The sidekicks each have unique personalities-one's an impassioned district attorney and good friend of the dad; the other's an adorably nervous (and easy on the eyes) lab assistant of the mom and brings an overeagerness to live out her comic book fantasies through her-and they take you away from the family when needed.

The main downside is that this can get a little sappy and melodramatic. If this guy portrays his love for his wife and kids once more, I'm going to throw up.

The show's premise is that it's about the conflict between suddenly being a superhero and managing a family. Suddenly being a superhero surely is dramatic but does that make your family's conflicts any more dramatic? All I know is that from the very first episode this was a family that functioned better than 90% of families in existence yet the show treats the Powells as if they have legitimate problems. It helps justify the need for this family to have all these family meetings but it's a sense of false drama.

Here's an example of this in a nutshell:
In the first episode, the husband says to the wife, "If you paid more attention, you'd know that your son has a learning disability and your daughter just got dumped." To quote Seth and Amy from Saturday Night Live: Really?!!? The thing that's keeping you from jumping full-force into embracing your superhero lifestyle is the guilt that your ADD kid (you know schools today have enormously bloated special-ed departments which take care of that, right?) and your rediculously normal daughter getting dumped makes you feel like a bad mother?

The bottom line is that if there is palpable drama to this family, they need to show it and the kids need to really be dysfunctional for those mushy moments to be justified.

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