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TV Tuesday

By admin Published: September 28, 2010

The big looking-forward-to-it on TV tonight is, of course, "The Good Wife" season premiere. CBS has promoted it relentlessly but I have not seen a preview. So we'll discuss later.

Also tonight is the premiere of "No Ordinary Family," which I rather like. After the jump I have posted my Beacon Journal column about it.

No Ordinary Family, a drama premiering at 8 p.m. Tuesday on ABC, involves its main characters getting super powers. But it is far from being about that.

Co-created by Greg Berlanti, whose other credits include Brothers & Sisters, No Ordinary Family is at its heart a domestic tale. Its characters have emotional issues that predate their gaining their special powers. Their relationships are tangled and complicated. Gaining powers is a remarkable thing, but they might just as easily have won the lottery. The issue would be the same ` does this new thing make us any happier? ` only you wouldn't be able to break up the family discussions with special-effects displays.

Of course, there's nothing new about a superhero having personal pain. Put Superman, Batman and Spiderman in a room, and you can have a first-class pity party. But No Ordinary Family is especially interested in the family issues ` and whether this is a group already so damaged that new powers can't mend things.

The basics of the show: The Powell family consists of father Jim (Michael Chiklis), a police sketch artist; his wife Stephanie (Julie Benz), a corporate up-and-comer; and children Daphne (Kay Panabaker) and J.J. (Jimmy Bennett). Concerned that the family ` or at least his marriage ` is coming apart, Jim arranges for everyone to go with Stephanie on a trip to South America. While there, they have an accident and survive ` but have also unknowingly received special, individual gifts.

The recognition of the gifts is covered in a rather familiar way, especially for people who've watched shows such as The Greatest American Hero. But even that process is brought back to family. When and how should Jim tell about his discovery, for instance? What if there's some disparity between the powers Daphne and J.J. have ` how does that fit into sibling rivalries? And, lingering at the end of the first episode, how does having powers change each individual and the family as a whole?

Chiklis, as you would expect, is very good. And the show is just adept enough at presenting its premise that I want to see more. But I especially want to see how well it balances the family/superhero stories down the road.

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