For a long time, I’ve believed that a program about a family who fights crime with superpowers would be an excellent TV show. It would have an interesting plot line and an intriguing recurring villain, its emotional core would be built around the idea of family, and it would involve a lot of fun action.

Unfortunately, No Ordinary Family isn’t that show, but it has the potential to be. Right now, No Ordinary Family seems to be a standard family drama with a smattering of sci-fi. “No Ordinary Quake” continued in that vein, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it made me wonder if that approach is sustainable.

Let’s start off with the good, and there was lots of it in this episode. JJ finally told his parents the truth, and his storyline involving the urine sample provided a lot of uncomfortable laughs. Normally, a scene where JJ inadvertently revealed that his friend’s girlfriend was pregnant would bother me, but Jimmy Bennett played it perfectly. (It also left me wondering why Jimmy’s friend had a sample of his girlfriend’s urine.) JJ and Katie turned out to be a fun character pairing, and it was good to see that Katie agreed to help cover for JJ.

Speaking of Katie, she is undoubtedly the best character on the show. Almost everything she says makes me laugh or at least crack a smile. (It doesn’t hurt that Autumn Reeser easy on the eyes.*) I appreciate her continued involvement in the show’s mythology.

For the first time since episode 2, the intriguing villains returned. Villains are much cooler when they have superpowers, and Rebecca’s shockwave powers were very nifty. We also got some substantial – albeit confusing – advancement on the mythology. I’m not sure exactly how Dr. King fits into all of this or why Dr. Volson had old blueprints hidden by encryption, but I want to know why. The show needs to be cautious and start answering questions within the next couple of weeks or risk ticking off viewers, but for the moment, the mysteries are feeding the story instead of subtracting from it.

What didn’t work in this episode was that once again, the four family members stayed within their separate spheres. To the show’s credit, their characters did intersect. However, their story lines didn’t. Daphne’s story line was somewhat weak and predictable, but Kay Panabaker is a talented enough actress to sell even the worst writing, and so it didn’t bring down the episode. Unfortunately, because it wasn’t tied to the other plot lines, its weakness was quite noticeable. The bigger problem here is that I’m more interested in a show about a crime-fighting family than a show where a man goes off to fight crime while his wife disapproves. There’s a lot of potential for fun, exciting stories with Jim and Stephanie working together to catch bad guys, but for now, the show is really playing down any potential similarities to The Incredibles.

“No Ordinary Quake” was a return to form after last week’s mess, but I’m still worried that the show isn’t headed in the right direction. There should be a greater focus on the mysteries and the action. I love seeing the characters and their interactions. But I also like good, meaty plot lines. No Ordinary Family could use a couple of those.

 

* I’m not above being shallow.

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