Superheroes on TV: No Ordinary Family VS The Cape

Micheal Chiklis
David Lyons

When Heroes went off the air (finally), it left a super-powered hole in our tv watching schedules, and networks are jumping at the chance to fill it.  Both NBC and ABC have greenlit new shows with a superhero backbone, hoping to cash in on the geek market.  We geeks like our tv and will dive head first into confusing mythology and unclear plots if the premise strikes the right cords.  With the end of Lost, and the cancellation of Flashforward and Heroes, we’re ready for a new block of  network programming to scratch that nerdy itch.  What do they have for us this year?  Lets watch some trailers!

Well…I’m underwhelmed, but let’s look at this a little closer.

ABC’s No Ordinary Family stars Michael Chiklis (Fantastic Four, The Shield) and Julie Benz (Dexter) as Jim and Stephanie Powell, an ordinary couple raising ordinary children in an ordinary neighbourhood (did I mention they’re ordinary?) But wait! The family goes on vacation and their plane crashes into, what I can only decipher as, ooze-filled water.  Ta-da, Superpowers!  Mom, dad, and the kids now have various superpowers: super-speed, invincibility, telepathy…um…something else.  Now we get to see what happens when superpowers exist in the real world.  Taking a cue from the Office and Modern Family, No Ordinary Family has the convention of  ‘confessionals,’ where characters directly talk to the camera and reveal their inner thoughts and problems.    If it works for those shows, it’ll work here…right?
There’s nothing wrong with the premise of No Ordinary Family, but what can they do that we haven’t seen?  The Incredibles showed us family drama, and super-powered adventure a few years back and we loved it, but is it something we’re going to watch week after week?
Things I assume we’ll see: Telepathic high-school student can’t cope with hearing thoughts, Telephatic high-school student gets/loses boy because of powers, Brother becomes better at school-accused of cheating, Michael Chiklis becomes vigilante, Police force question Michael Chiklis’s actions
Notes: Michael Chiklis has combined two of his most recognizable roles (The Thing-Fantastic Four, Vic Mackey-The Shield) to become an invincible police officer.

NBC’s The Cape is a little more superhero and a little less sitcom. David Lyons (ER) is Vince Faraday, a family man (and again, cop) framed for a crime he didn’t commit.  He meets Keith David (Best. Voice. Ever.) who trains him to be comic book icon, The Cape.  With the help of David’s band of circus freaks (?) , The Cape (CoughBatmancough) fights for injustice in a corrupt city. I understand why NBC chose to go in this direction.  Heroes was criticized for having too many characters and confusing plots (and time travel).  The Cape follows one hero, his mentor, and a band of quirky side-kicks.  It has (presumably) one plot-to stop corruption by finding who framed him. Simple.  Easy to follow. A tad boring?
Things I assume we’ll see: Training montage where hero gets beaten down, mocked, and embraced by the group,  heart wrenching choice of whether to not to tell his son who he is,  In costume kiss with his wife, a choice between the sexy new side-kick and the wife he can’t be with, confrontation with a partner who set him up, possible death of the mentor.
Notes: I’m still angry at NBC for cancelling Kings

Two new shows, two different directions.  Will either of them fill the need for prime-time  geekery?  What are your thoughts?

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