Comic-Con 2010: No Ordinary Family

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The Panel: Small but lively. The producers Greg Berlanti and Jon Harmon Feldman, and stars Julie Benz and Michael Chiklis.

Show, Not Tell: Hey, they premiered the entire first episode! And it’s good. Certainly not groundbreaking—it is, after all, a lot like The Incredibles—but definitely entertaining. I was surprised by the amount of character introduction, mythology building, and humor they were able to cram into 42 minutes. The Powell family is charming: dad Jim (Chiklis), mom Stephanie (Benz), daughter Daphne (Kay Panabaker), and son JJ (Jimmy Bennett). Also, they have superpowers. So there’s that.

What They Talked About: Aside from the set-up, we didn’t know a whole lot about No Ordinary Family, so it was great to not only see the pilot but also hear what to expect from the first season. I really liked Greg Berlanti’s pitch. Having worked on both The Green Lantern and family dramas like Everwood, he said, “I loved the notion of melding those two worlds on TV.”

Most Valuable Panelist: Chiklis, definitely. He had all the best lines.

Best Question From the Audience: I liked the question about going from villain to hero, referring to Julie Benz’ portrayal of Darla on Angel. As a diehard Whedonite, I’m always OK with references to any Joss shows, and Darla has long been one of my favorite fictional vampires. Geeky enough for you?

Missing in Action: Most of the cast, really. I would have liked to hear from Panabaker and Bennett, though given how short the panel was—less than 20 minutes excluding the screening—it’s probably best that they kept it small.

Most Exciting News: It’s hard to get spoilers for a show that hasn’t started yet, but there were some hints of what’s to come. Berlanti spoke of a twist that will develop the show’s mythology. There is a bigger villain behind all of this, and those superpowers may be more curse than gift. Isn’t that always how it goes? Also, Josh Stewart has been added to the cast as a “Watcher,” but not in the Buffy sense, Berlanti explained. He’ll be, um, watching the family—and he’s going to pose some kind of threat.

Quotables: Almost everything Chiklis said was golden. “I’ve shot in that same alley, urine-soaked alley, on The Shield as well,” he reflected. “So I felt very at home there.” Then there was his reason for choosing the project: “I wanted to do this show because I got a lair with wi-fi.” And my personal favorite, after someone asked whether or not No Ordinary Family will feature superhero costumes: “Listen, you do not want to see me in lycra.”

But Wait, There’s More!: For Dexter fans, Benz did talk a bit about Rita, namely in relation to how different Stephanie is. She’s really the “exact opposite,” Benz noted. Also, I’m pretty sure Rita didn’t have super speed.

The Bottom Line: Solid pilot. Entertaining panel. I’ve been looking forward to No Ordinary Family for a while, but this definitely sealed the deal for me. Hopefully the show lives up to the hype—more Season 1 Heroes than anything after Season 1 Heroes—and flourishes for at least another year. If only because I want to see the No Ordinary Family panel at Comic-Con 2011.

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