Tiffany Vogt

Posts Tagged ‘Michael Chiklis’

Review of ‘No Ordinary Family’ – No Ordinary Double Standard

In * By Tiffany Vogt, No Ordinary Family on February 8, 2011 at 11:55 pm

A thief seeking only answers can still be dangerous when cornered

In effort to track down a thief who broke into Steph’s friend’s house, the Powells engaged in a friendly competition to see which of them could capture the culprit first.  Fortunately, after a few mis-starts, they ended up teaming up and effectively stopped a man from killing Dr. King (Stephen Collins), who he blamed for turning him into a freak.

This was the turning point episode in which the Powell’s family secret is blown wide open.  While there was always a chance that either Victoria (Rebecca Mader) or Joshua (Josh Stewart) could have revealed the Powells’ abilities to Dr. King, it was not until now that Dr. King could see for himself just how special the Powells are.  It was very foolish for Jim (Michael Chiklis) and Steph (Julie Benz) to not even think of erasing any security footage of their efforts to battle Tom (Ethan Suplee) in the lab.  Steph in particular should have been aware of the security cameras since she worked there.   But, then again, perhaps she assumed that because her ability was super-speed that the camera would never pick up what she was doing – other than she would be seen on tape one second and gone the next.  But Jim’s powers were a lot more visible on the video recording and Dr. King finally had his proof of something he had long-suspected:  the Powells were blessed with super-abilities, and not the kind that came from a syringe injection.

So, while noble of Jim and Steph to want to assist Steph’s friend who had been accosted by a thief in her home, it set off a chain reaction of events that lead to inadvertent exposure to their arch-enemy – and with their cover blown, this family-drama is about to amp up the octane.

Points of Interest

1.            As abilities go, Tom’s was pretty cool, being able to de-solidify and turn into a stream of smoke or mist; and it made us wonder how Jim  and Steph were actually going to stop a man who they could not get their hands on.

2.            The double-standard pertaining to J.J. (Jimmy Bennett) and Daphne (Kay Panabaker) regarding who they were allowed to date was absurd, but it pointed out a common misconception of our society about how men are allowed to date at younger ages simply because they are men.  It was also nice that J.J. cut the date short once he realized it was wrong to lead Bailey on when he was still thinking of another girl.

3.            What could have been a really scary encounter turned out to very revealing when Daphne and Chris (Luke Kelintank) were held up and then Daphne discovered she has the power of persuasion.  Daphne’s telepathic ability make her feel a bit victimized until she learned to shut out what people around her were thinking.  So it is nice that she is getting a more assertive ability and can now compel others by her command. But let’s hope she does not let her new power corrupt her soul.

What Worked

It was good to see that Jim and Steph’s friendly rivalry to capture the man who broke into Lena’s (Betsy Brandt) house did not turn more competitive and ugly.  It could have been a silly and overly dramatic power play between Steph and Jim to prove that they were the better crime-fighter, such as when Jim boasted to Steph, “I’m built for crime fighting.”   This only provoked Steph into thinking that she needed to compete, causing her to defiantly retort, “You think your powers are better than mine?!”   Their subsequent misadventures in tracking down Tom, the smoke-shifter, was pretty hysterical, such as when they both made sketches based on Lena’s description.  As a police sketch artist, Jim won that round easily, but it was fun to see how quickly Katie (Autumn Reeser) could replicate his artistic rendering with a few keys on a computer — proving that with the right software, you too can be a police sketch artist!

It was also funny watching Jim and George (Romany Malco) versus Steph and Katie debate whether a lair was better than a lab, or visa versa.  This may now be the biggest debate amongst superhero fans everywhere — which is better:  a lab or a lair?

Steph’s reaction and frustration once she realized that she can beat Jim to a crime scene, but that there is not always much she can do once she gets there, was priceless.  Her exasperated exclamation, “Damn it, what good is super speed without super strength!”  was another reminder that super-speed is not always the best ability when attempting to apprehend a criminal.  But ,later after Tom simply evaporated from Jim’s grasp, it was nice that Jim chivalrously extended the olive branch and asked Steph,  “What do you say, honey, you want to take down a super villain with me?”  To which she enthusiastically replied, “I thought you’d never ask!”

The show has always been about how the Powells are stronger when they work as a team, and Jim and Steph teaming up has been long over due.  Thus, it is nice to see them working together to defeat their common enemies.

Then in the adorable category, it was awesome how Joshua showed Katie that he could literally sweep a girl off her feet.  He really is Katie’s dream-come-true soul mate in that he has these amazing abilities and yet he is choosing to use them for good now that Katie is in his life; and no matter how many warnings Dr. King may toss at Joshua, he has held steadfast in his determination to be a better man for Katie.  Although the fact that Joshua promptly erased Katie’s memory of the file that Dr. King gave her exposing Joshua’s dark past will mostly likely come back to haunt him.   We can only hope that Joshua and Katie’s love is strong enough to weather that looming storm.

Finally, Dr. King may have tipped his hand when he lied to Steph about seeing Lena recently.  It was a subtle slip-up, but perhaps enough to warn Steph that there is something more going on with her illustrious mentor.

What Didn’t Work

It was beyond foolish for Daphne to abandon her date with Chris in an area where she was not safe.  If a girl wants to leave, she needs to call for a ride or take a cab.  Walking the city streets as night alone is just asking for a bad end.  One would have thought Daphne would have more sense than that!

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

“No Ordinary Double Standard” was written by Sallie Patrick and directed by Paul Edwards. “No Ordinary Family” stars Michael Chiklis, Julie Benz, Kay Panabaker, Jimmy Bennett, Autumn Reeser, Romany Malco, Stephen Collins, Josh Stewart. “No Ordinary Family” airs Tuesdays at 8:00 pm ET on ABC.

Review of ‘No Ordinary Family’ – No Ordinary Detention

In * By Tiffany Vogt, No Ordinary Family on January 22, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Survival may mean learning to change perspective and make new allies

It was the day from hell for the Powells. For the first time, they were the ones trapped and looking for a way out. Their new lives were no longer just about testing with their new superpowers and dabbling in how to do good for others. This was graduation day.

Jim (Michael Chiklis) was trapped in the police station with a ruthless killer holding everyone hostage and a pesky internal affairs investigator watching his every move; Steph (Julie Benz) was trapped Survival may mean learning to change perspective and make new allies
in the lab with a shapeshifter and telekinetic trying to wean off the serum that Dr. King (Stephen Collins) was experimenting with; and Daphne (Kay Panabaker) and J.J. (Jimmy Bennett) were stuck in detention with the girl that broke J.J.’s heart and Daphne’s nosy school rival. Any other day, this might have been a workable situation for the Powells, but this day was stacked against them.

This episode could have been a comedy of errors, but instead it worked flawlessly. Jim and George’s (Romany Malco) crazy idea to reenact the plot from “Die Hard” actually worked in saving the hostages and disarming the bad guys. Steph came face to face with her worst nightmare: someone pretending to be her best friend and who learned about her abilities yet made another ally in the process. Then J.J. may have lost a girlfriend, but found that his lonely days may be shorter than he thought; and Daphne shared a secret but gained something more precious as a result.

But what really made it all worked out in the end was because each of them changed their perspective and took a leap of faith to trust someone that they normally would not have trusted. Jim had to trust the internal affairs investigator hunting him down; Steph had to trust Joshua (Josh Stewart), a man that she thought may be a closet-junkie; and J.J. and Daphne had to trust the least trustworthy people they knew — a kid with an arrest record and the girl from which Daphne stole the school election.

But their willingness to adapt and trust saved the day. Because the Powells are genuinely nice people who want to believe the best in others, they were rewarded with unexpected gestures of faith and goodness in return.

It was a powerful lesson to learn:  a little faith can go a long ways and it may win you unexpected friends a long the way.

Points of Interest

1. J.J. creating snowflakes to dazzle everyone in detention was a beautiful reminder that beauty is always around us, even when we least expect it.

2. It was cool seeing Joanne Kelly from “Warehouse 13″ making a guest star appearance, reminding us once again what a wonderful government agent she makes. She made Agent Rachel Jacobs a lot more sympathetic that such a role normally would have been.

3. All the geek-speak testing Katie (Autumn Reeser) and Faux-Katie was hilarious. Did Victoria (Rebecca Mader) truly research all that geek knowledge in advance just in case she was ever quizzed when impersonating Katie? That woman is entirely way too prepared for such obscure contingencies.

What Worked

It should have been absurd, but instead it was fantastic watching Jim and George debate the pro’s and con’s of using “Die Hard” as a strategic plan to take down the escaped prisoners who had overtaken the precinct. Playing into their crazy idea was how they had to avoid detection by the I.A. investigator, which may the uncertainty of the situation more gripping. Normally it would be Jim against the bad guys, who would not have a chance. But by forcing Jim to play with a handicap, a suspicious investigator tripping up his rescue efforts, kept it from feeling routine and predictable. Plus, when Jim was shot, it felt more real that he could have been hurt and thus more fun when Rachel (Joanne Kelly) asked incredulously, “How the hell are you still alive?” and he quipped, “Well, it helps to be bullet-proof” while lifting his shirt to reveal a bullet-proof vest. It took us for a fun ride and surprised us a bit along the way. Nicely played.

It was also awesome how well the three different storylines worked simultaneously. It was not a matter of just watching Jim pull off the John McClane moves, there was the drama unfolding at the lab and the angst playing out in school detention. For the first time ever, we all wanted to know what was going on with everyone all at once. There was no weak link; all three storylines were intriguing and entertaining.

Plus, allowing Joshua to play superhero to save Katie and Steph was awesome. After setting him up for the better part of the season to be the big bad villain, it is cool to see him ripping away his mask and revealing a guardian angel. Love alone did not make him the protective soul that he is underneath his bad boy ways; for he was already keeping a protective watch eye on the Powells before he began dating Katie. But now that he has love on his side, Joshua is more of an avenging angel. Pity poor Victoria now that she has tipped her hand revealing that she has been trying to kill Katie.

Joshua also got to the white knight rescuing his damsel in distress. It was only too poetic when he threw Victoria though the glass and Katie stared at him in amazement asking, “Who are you?!” Even as Joshua realized in that moment that he may have lost her forever, he was willing to risk everything to save her. It was a noble act of self-sacrifice, which fortunately worked in his favor. For later, when he tried to explain things to Katie, she did not reject him, instead she accepted him. Only a girl who has been dreaming of superheroes her whole life would ever truly appreciate how lucky she is. Katie not only has a superpower boss, she now has a superpower boyfriend too. Never in her wildest dreams could she have imagined that her live would turn out so perfect.

Alas, not every girl will appreciate what she has until it is gone. In Natalie’s (Katelyn Tarver) case, her short-sighted sense of self-preservation compelled her to push away the one person who can appreciate all that she is. In breaking up with J.J. because she thought he was getting in the way of her school work, Natalie may have lost the one person who could have guaranteed her a gold pass to any college she wanted. Even superficial Bailey (Katrina Begin) figured out that J.J. is going places with that super I.Q. of is and that it would be easier to get through life with a guy like that at your side. It was pretty startling, yet funny when Bailey told Natalie, “Don’t you think the girl that Bill Gates dated in 9th grade is kicking herself now?” It was even more surprising when Bailey then later told J.J., “You’re smart enough to know that things happen for a reason. Don’t waste your time thinking about [Natalie]. I’m sure there’s better girls to waste your time thinking about.” With one kiss and the kaleidoscope shifted. It was as J.J. had noted earlier when he said, “Four months ago, I was flunking out of school, then something changed. Then I knew that anything was possible.” J.J. was no longer the guy dumped while in detention; he was the guy with the world at his feet.

Also taking a moment to shift their perspectives, it was fun to see how Daphne and Chris (Luke Kleintank) decided to trust one another. So when Chris softly said, “Hey, you never shared any secrets today” and Daphne cautiously said, “My secret is: I like you,” which prompted Chris to softly reply, “That’s a good secret” before kissing her, everyone’s hearts melted.

Finally, getting in the better line of the night, Steph made the understatement of the year when she said, “More importantly, who is [Victoria] going to be the next time she shows up?”  With a shape-shifter on the loose, everyone is at risk and no one is safe. The game is now afoot.

What Didn’t Work

Natalie choosing to break up with J.J. while in detention seemed a bit too cold and ruthless for such a sweet girl. Surely she would have waited until afterwards before breaking his heart. She is smart enough to know that revealing your private affairs in public is never wise and it only served to portray her in a very negative light. She would have much more savvy normally and we can only hope that she smartens up a bit right away.

It also did not make sense that Victoria did not just kill Katie when she had the chance in the break room. Why just knock Katie unconscious? It only led to further difficulties with Joshua and Steph. Victoria’s mission would have been successful if she killed Katie right away and then just injected Joshua with the serum. What did she hope to gain by pressuring Steph into using the flower to experiment on Joshua? Lots of hanging chads with Victoria and her murky motives.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

“No Ordinary Detention” was written by Zach Estrin and Leigh Dana Jackson and directed by David Petrarca. “No Ordinary Family” stars Michael Chiklis, Julie Benz, Kay Panabaker, Jimmy Bennett, Autumn Reeser, Romany Malco, Stephen Collins, Josh Stewart. “No Ordinary Family” airs Tuesdays at 8:00 pm ET on ABC.

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Review ‘No Ordinary Family’ – No Ordinary Brother

In * By Tiffany Vogt, No Ordinary Family on January 13, 2011 at 3:00 pm

When family, friends and lovers complicate our lives in unexpected ways

In a parallel storyline, this episode addressed how friends and family make decisions that suddenly complicate our lives. Jim’s brother came to visit and discovered the family’s super-power secret; and Katie (Autumn Reeser) accepted a promotion and made plans to move to Miami with Joshua. It was not enough that Jim’s brother Mike (Jason Wiles) knew about the Powells’ secret; he then chose to exploit the Powells’ superhuman abilities for his own financial gain; and Katie and Joshua’s (Josh Stewart) decision to move away left both Steph (Julie Benz) and Dr. King (Stephen Collins) scrambling over the idea of continuing their work without them.

It was painful to see how unprepared Jim (Michael Chiklis) and Steph were for these unexpected calamities. They had not taken any precautions or prepared for the day when someone found out about their powers and tried to exploit them; and Steph had never considered how she would continue her work (both at the office and off-the-books on her family’s new powers) without Katie.

The world tilted and they were caught-off guard. Even Dr. King, who had been told that Joshua wanted to quit his villainous ways, seemed rattled when he found out that Joshua planned to move to Miami with Katie. It provoked a series of rash decisions and bad judgment on all their parts. Jim turned a blind-eye to his brother’s financial predicament and then kept proposing ineffective and dangerous solutions. Steph nearly revealed how vital Katie was to her personal research to Dr. King.  And Dr. King unwittingly showed Joshua how valuable he was to Dr. King’s plans when he demonstrated what lengths he would go to in order to keep Joshua from moving.

Everything spiraled out of control and it left everyone off-balance, out-of-sorts and in a precarious position. It was remarkable that no one was more seriously hurt in the midst of such chaos.  In addition, normally Jim and Steph are much more methodical in their approach to a problem and to see them at a loss was disorientating.

Fortunately, it all worked when Jim and his brother turned in the loan shark for the reward money – but it took two failed attempts at the race track to win the money before that option was explored. Then Katie decided to stay and forgo the opportunity to have her own lab because it was a dream-come-true to work for and study an actual superhero.  Joshua may not have agreed to return to working with Dr. King, but after the attempt on Katie’s life, he still may be persuaded to return to a life of crime once again.

However, they all had a big lesson to learn: they need to be prepared. They need to plan for the unexpected, as they may not have such a happy ending the next time.

What Worked

After last week’s cliff-hanger ending when Katie found the journal in Joshua’s jacket, it was rather smooth how easily he manipulated the text so that he could reassure Katie that she had imagined it. It was also another demonstration that not all of Joshua’s powers are gone. He may not be receiving serum shots from Dr. King, but he may have an independent supplier – or perhaps he has been permanently altered so that his abilities do not diminish and disappear like Dr. King believes. Either way, it opens up a whole interesting arena of possibilities. The Watcher persona may not be dead and declawed yet and Dr. King should be more careful about threatening Joshua or Katie.

Though it was cool when Joshua icily said, “You do remember what I do best, don’t you?” and Dr. King calmly replied, “You’re much less intimidating without the serum coursing throughout your bloodstream.” To which Joshua angrily retorted, “That means I’ll just have to work that much harder to make you pay for what you tried to do.” Even without a demonstration of abilities, the threat was spine-chilling. One does not want to get on his bad side!

Then Katie was adorable when she naively proposed that she and Steph could still have lunch together everyday once she moved to Miami because it would only take Steph seven minutes to get there. For her to genuinely believe that nothing would change because of the distance showed that she had such a warm heart for she never imagined that distance alone would alter their friendship.

It was even more beautiful when Katie reconsidered her decision to take the Miami promotion and thoughtfully told Steph, “Maybe there is no such thing as an accident. I mean my whole life I’ve been obsessed with superheroes and then my boss turns out to be one.” She then happily explained, “I became a scientist so I could understand phenomena that would help me save lives and change the world. I get to do that every day working with you. You’re my own real life superhero. . . What can I say? You’re the coolest accident I’ve ever known.” With that kind of logic, one suddenly got why Katie was so special. It is not just because she is super smart and a loyal cheerleader – it is because she understands and appreciates how amazing her life has become just by knowing the right person. Katie is not one to throw away people that she cares about, or who present her with such a dream-come-true life experience as the one that Steph entrusted her with. When Steph told Katie about her secret, she was not just looking for a friend; she was looking for a partner. No promotion could ever take the place of such an extraordinary experience. It spoke volumes about who Katie is that she appreciates this gift.

Finally, special mention has to be made for the mind-blowing reveal at the end of the episode. After Joshua left his office, Dr. King wryly noted, “Love has a way of robbing a man of his common sense,” and Victoria Morrow (Rebecca Mader) insightfully responded, “This isn’t about love. He wants to be normal. We all do.” This exchange felt rather innocuous, but when Victoria revealed that she was a shapeshifter, it was a fantastic surprise – it showed that even Joshua needs to watch his back from now on.

What Didn’t Work

The show seems to intentionally shy away from some of the more intriguing aspects of the show. It provides very little interaction between the ultimate villain and his minions with the Powell family. The show needs a serious influx of drama and jeopardy to yank it out of the stagnant family drama for which it has settled. It needs to ramp-up and not be content to just coast along.

Another glitch that felt out of place was when Jim and Steph thought there was an intruder in their house and Jim told Steph, “Get ready to dial 911.” It felt absurd that two people with superhuman abilities would debate which of them would investigate whether someone had broken into their house. As even Jim noted, Steph could have checked in less than a second; and even if she felt vulnerable, it seemed silly that Jim who is practically invincible still wanted to have the police on speed-dial.  All the times that Jim voluntarily took on dangerous criminal by himself without thought of needing the police as a back-up, or when Steph dashed here and there without thought about ever being seen, and yet neither wanted to check to see if they had an intruder. It just felt silly. Instead of arguing about which of them should go, they should just do it. Why the hesitation in their own home, when they never hesitate out in the rest of the world?  It felt out of place. Our heroes need to demonstrate more confidence.

Points of Interest

(1) No matter how dark the show may get as far as storyline, the visual imagery tends to stay crystal clear and sparkling, as if to remind the audience that evil exists in even the most bright and normal looking of places.  When Victoria posed as the construction worker and tried to kill Katie, it was in broad daylight by a coffee shop.  This seeming innocence of surroundings juxtaposes the treachery lying in wait.

(2) One of the consistent strengths of the show is when it allows its heroes to use their powers.  It still feels fun watching Jim get hit by car and thrown off a building and still be able to walk away from it without a scratch.  It is also cool watching Steph whip out her speedster ability and pop up unexpectedly, or to save the day when Katie was about to be crushed by the falling apparatus.

(3) Along the same lines, it is interesting to see how the Powells’ abilities continue to grow beyond even their expectations, and to discover what else Joshua can do. The surprise factor helps keep the show fresh for the audience.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

“No Ordinary Brother” was written by Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer and directed by Michael Watkins. “No Ordinary Family” stars Michael Chiklis, Julie Benz, Kay Panabaker, Jimmy Bennett, Autumn Reeser, Romany Malco, Stephen Collins, Josh Stewart. “No Ordinary Family” airs Tuesdays at 8:00 pm ET on ABC.

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