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From the network that brought you Modern Family comes No Ordinary Family, about  a normal clan that suddenly finds itself endowed with superpowers. With a strong cast and a fast pace, the show promises to be a heavy-hitter in ABC Family’s fall line-up. 

 Jim Powell (Michael Chiklis) feels that his family has become too distant and dysfunctional. In an attempt to reignite the family bond, Jim takes his wife Stephanie (Julie Benz) and his two teenagers, Daphne (Kay Panabaker) and JJ (Jimmy Bennett) on  an exotic trip- to the amazon. 

Only what was supposed to be an exciting family vacation takes a dramatic turn for the worse when the plane they are flying in falls into the Amazon River. They survive and are rushed back to their normal lives, without even a minute to recover from their brush with death. The family pick back up where they left off – only this time, their life is much less business as usual. 

The Powells quickly find that they have mysterious new powers- which they lacked before the crash. They soon realize their bodies are supercharged with some mystical energy from the river. Jim, who felt weak and unappreciated, can now lift cars and hurl them over buildings; his wife Stephanie has been transformed into a powerful woman who can run at super speeds.  

“I think what started it was the sense that no matter what your family looks like, we all in our own way feel a little damaged or a little broken,” says Jon Harmon Feldman, who co-wrote and created the show with Greg Berlanti. “How do you fill in those deficiencies – one great way would be to have superpowers.”  

No Ordinary Family

Feldman says the family is able to use the powers to not only make up for their shortcomings in life – but to excel in ways they never thought possible. 

“The notion of the powers was in the universe of their deficiencies,” Feldman explains. “If Jim didn’t feel powerful in his own life – he suddenly has this strength –Stephanie couldn’t be in more than one place at all times and got speed – Daphne was self-involved and was suddenly burdened with hearing everyone’s thoughts – JJ, who we thought had a learning disability, develops this super-intellect.” 

As the family begins to deal with the reality of having superpowers, they begin to rely on their friends, George (Romany Malco) and Katie (Autumn Reeser). Moreover, they find that no power on Earth is greater than the bond of their family. 

No Ordinary Family

“I really like the family element of the show. In each episode we are kind of doing our own crazy thing – it’s nice to be able to reconnect,” Panabaker says, adding that the ability to work with each co-star helps to vary the action scenes they have together.  

Benz says she has been thrilled to be able to engage in a role where she could be dramatically different from her previous roles as Rita Morgan, the sheepish wife of Dexter, or the evil vampire Darla who attacked Buffy and Angel for years.“Everybody hated Darla. They would see me out and about and yell at me. It is nice to actually be liked,” Benz says.  

She continues, “I was looking for the strongest female character I could find – the exact opposite of Rita. Stephanie really is the exact opposite of Rita – for me it was luck.” 

Julie Benz as Stephanie

Benz, who has a long history of doing action-filled roles – especially in the recent work  The Boondock Saints 2, thinks the contrast between the action and the comedy in the show is the thing people will enjoy most. 

“I love how it has all of the different elements in it, the action, the comedy and the drama,” says Benz, who has coined the term “dramactionomony” to describe the show. “As an actor, I enjoy being able to go to work and have real dramatic moments, but then also have the funny moments and be able to do stunts.” 

Both Benz and Chiklis agree they took their roles to have fun with action and to take on a role that was on the lighter side. Benz and Chiklis say they have gotten to tackle some challenging, yet rewarding stunts, like when Benz got to run across the 710 freeway.  

“You know that you are making a big show that is very ambitious when they shut down the freeway to shoot a scene,” Chiklis says, adding that his Twitter feed has also become far more interesting. “It’s fun to be at work and go, ‘jumping off a bridge today, what about you?’”  

When asked if they planned to wear a super-hero costume at any point, the cast said it would be a cold day in hell before they could be talked into colorful body armor.  

“You do not want to see me in lycra,” Chiklis jokes, “I’m still thrilled that I don’t have to have 60 pounds of orange latex on me.” 

“No Ordinary Family” premieres on ABC Tuesday, Sept. 28 at 8/7c. For more information, visit abc.go.com or check your local listings.   

  

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 115 - September 5569
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