You can almost picture the Hollywood pitch meeting for No Ordinary Family:  “what if you take a mildly dysfunctional suburban family and gave them … superpowers?   It’s 7th Heaven meets Heroes!!!”

Best known for his tour de force performance as Vic Mackey on The Shield, Michael Chiklis now plays Jim Powell, a “failed painter, an ineffectual police artist” who feels a growind distance from his busy, successful scientist wife, Stephanie (Julie Benz, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel), and their teenage kids, Daphne (Kay Panabaker) and J J (Jimmy Bennett). So in a bid to cop some family together time, they all go on their mother’s research trip to Brazil.  Their plane crashes in the Amazon River.  Soon thereafter they begin to manifest powers based on their personalities:  Jim, impotent in his family’s life, now is invulnerable and strong; the every busy Stephanie now can move so fast she can almost be in two places at once; what teen wouldn’t want Daphne’s telepathy to know who’s saying what about them?; and struggling student JJ becomes a genius.

“The family isn’t broken.  You two are.” –Daphne

So on one level, this show is about perceptions: who we are and our need to fill certain roles in life. The quartet of heroes gains its powers due to an accident of hubris as they were in pursuit of learning the origins of life. Each of them gains powers based on personality.  It’s like they were all trapped by these false ideas of themselves. These false selves, these false ways that we see ourselves, start developing when we’re young. How our family shape us, how we let our friends define us. We derive our self-worth from what we do, we’re of value because of how we behave or what we have. And yet some part of us is miserable under this definition of who we are and longs to find a way out from under it.

So we need a better definition, a new identity, one that we can find in God. A true self, coming as a result of loving and being loved by God. Once we have our identity in Him and in loving others, we can start building this true self. Understanding and living this truth is what brings true freedom. Once the Four refused to define themselves by what they had (or didn’t have) or what people said about them, they were on the road to being the heroes they were called to be.

And then we move to the next lever, since none of us are living up to our full abilities. We have huge potential that sin has taken away [think of sin as human error, a failure to fulfill human potential (and thus sin becomes that which dehumanizes us)]. In fact, a lot of us would rather believe the lie that we are not different, that we are not special. We then get caught up in empty ways of doing life, going through the daily grind, going through the motions, un-engaged and missing the point of life.

Our journey begins by appreciate who you are and your own gifts. We are Eikons of God, created in His image to relate to Him and to others. Created for a purpose.  As each character figures out their gift, they have to then choose how they want to use what they’ve been blessed with.

“The problems we face may no longer be ordinary, but then again, neither are we.” –Jim

Well, actually, they are.  Very mundane.  Once the premise is established, the show immediately loses steam.  Where No Ordinary Family falls short is that it lacks ambition.  The show plays it safe.  It’s … nice.  The characters are nice, if not especially interesting.  Their friends are nice, if not especially memorable.Michael Chiklis is playing some reprisal combination of  his previous roles of The Commish and The Thing (from the Fantastic Four movies).  In fact, that’s the rub.  This is a very Disney-fied version of the Fantastic Four.  Or think of it as The Incredibles:  the Series, except without the movie’s depth, action, or interesting/explorable characters.