Super family is just 'Ordinary'

"No Ordinary Family"

"No Ordinary Family" (Credit: ABC Photo/)

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THE SHOW "No Ordinary Family"

WHEN | WHERE Tuesday night at 8 p.m. on ABC/7

REASON TO WATCH Michael Chiklis is in the house.

Meet the ordinary Powells. Or perhaps not so "ordinary": Stephanie (Julie Benz) is a corporate research scientist, while Jim (Chiklis) is a police sketch artist. He's a hands-on dad who's basically assumed the role of parenting the kids, 16-year-old Daphne (Kay Panabaker) and 14-year-old JJ (Jimmy Bennett).

Eager to reforge familial ties, now frayed by workaday pressures, Jim insists the gang all go with Stephanie to Brazil on her scheduled business trip. Once there, they take a flight in a small prop plane to see the sunset. Plane crashes, they survive, then return home. The kicker: They also return with superhuman powers. Jim can stop bullets, and Stephanie can run the mile in six seconds flat.

Why? That's what they want to know. Greg Berlanti produces, and fans of "Eli Stone" - with a roughly similar premise - will see hints of the late lamented show here as well.

Scratch a good actor, and underneath there's another one scrambling to get out. Call it what you like - stretching, breaking type, exploring new thespian frontiers - but most have to try different roles to expand employment opportunities, too. Chiklis went from "The Commish," to the TV movie "The Three Stooges," to "Daddio," "The Shield," the big-screen's "Fantastic Four" and now this. Don't try to connect the dots because they don't connect. But Chiklis also had the great fortune to have one spectacular defining role that casts a shadow over his career to this day, and likely always will. So to watch Vic Mackey as a whiny, wussy suburban dad emoting about how to "reconnect" will make some viewers giggle and everyone else wince.

What was ABC thinking? What was he thinking? This is as spectacular a case of miscasting as any in recent TV history.

"Family" is a trifle - part comic book, part kids' show - that is perfectly pleasant but without edge, bite or dramatic heft. With Chiklis aboard, it's like witnessing a concert pianist execute an elaborate version of "Chopsticks."

GRADE C

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