No Ordinary Cast

Normally, I review the episode of a show, but in the case of “No Ordinary Family,” I’d much rather talk about its extraordinary (pun intended) cast. Warning: minor spoilers ahead.

But to start with, the pilot was freakin’ awesome. I’m a bit of a superhero fanatic, so I’ve been looking forward to the show since I heard about it. For me, it succeeds where “Heroes” failed. I loved “Heroes” in its first season, but it ultimately lost me because I wound up not caring about a single person on the show and the plot was too convoluted.

But within the first 20 minutes, I not only cared about the characters on “No Ordinary Family,” but I liked them. Maybe that’s because, instead of trying to be an action show with a family side story, it is really a family story that just happens to involve superpowers. I think, as the show progresses, it will become symbolic of the difficulties all families face, similar to how “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was an allegory for being a teenager and feeling different and alone.

But like I said, I want to talk about the phenomenal cast. After all, it’s a testament to their abilities that I like the characters so much. And every single one of them is a virtual chameleon.

Michael Chiklis, for example, has played good cop in “The Commish,” bad cop in “The Shield,” and now fledgling-police-sketch-artist-turned-superdude. And it probably sounds like he’s been typecast as a cop, but his characters are so different that to compare them would be like day, dusk, and dead of night. Chiklis is no stranger to being a superhero, having played The Thing in the “Fantastic Four” movies, but he proves his superherodom (superheroness?) in the role of Jim, a man who feels his family drifting apart and who desperately wants to re-solidify their connection, all while fighting crime with his newfound superstrength.

I don’t even know where to start with Julie Benz. I’m pretty sure I’m in love with her. I’d have her kids, if I actually wanted kids (and it were physically possible). As the vampire/human/vampire/pregnant vampire Darla on “Buffy” and, more importantly, “Angel,” she stole my heart (and could’ve had my blood, if she’d asked). She’s beautiful, incredibly talented, and has gone from playing evil to a sweet but frazzled mom/scientist as easily as taking off the vampire prosthetic she used to wear (though I suspect its removal actually took a decent amount of time, but I liked the metaphor). Oh, and she can run really fast. I’d love that, since I despise driving.

Kay Panabaker, equally beautiful, caught my attention when she starred on “Summerland,” opposite the likes of Lori Loughlin and Jesse McCartney, but my favorite role of hers happens to be in “Sky High,” another superhero role. But where her character in “Sky High” was used to being a superhero (and superheroes were commonplace in that universe), here, she hates her superpower, because all it does is make being a teen more complicated. Though I have to admit, being able to hear other people’s thoughts could come in handy, especially at that point in life. –Update: Above, I stated that Kay Panabaker starred in Sky High, but that was her sister, Danielle. I apologize profusely and would just like to say, in my defense, that they look very similar and are both beautiful and talented.

Rounding out the family is Jimmy Bennett as younger teen JJ, formerly struggling in school but now supersmart. I know the least about Bennett, having only seen him as the young James Kirk in the reboot of “Star Trek.” I loved him in the part, and, as a lifelong Trekker, loved the reboot in general. I remain impressed with his acting chops here and expect him to become a household name before long, especially if “No Ordinary Family” succeeds as I expect (and hope) it will.

The only other cast member with whom I am familiar is Stephen Collins. I loved him on “7th Heaven,” and here he plays a very different (and far less nice) character. It’ll be interesting to see him play bad. Collins also happens to be a “Star Trek” alum. He starred in “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.” Again, all very different characters. Not to mention, he can sing, though that has nothing to do with “No Ordinary Family”…at least, not yet.

I will most definitely be tuning in for the next episode and, I suspect, all the episodes that follow. It’s fun, quirky, and I have a feeling it will develop an interesting mythology. And in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I love a show with a good mythology.


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