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After spending time down in the dark as, respectively, the terrifyingly immovable object at the center of The Shield and Dexter's unsuspecting love interest, it's more than understandable that both Michael Chiklis and Julie Benz would look for an opportunity to kick back a bit. The all-ages superhero show No Ordinary Family takes a few episodes to get into gear, but eventually achieves an appealing balance between wide-eyed goofiness and fanboyish in-jokes. Series creators Jon Harmon Feldman and Greg Berlanti (Everwood) quickly establish their origin story: following a mysterious plane crash in the jungle, a squabbling family develops powers (invulnerability for Dad, warp speed for Mom, mind reading and super-smarts for the kids). While struggling to comprehend the nature of their new abilities, they come into contact with a weekly succession of mutated baddies--Earthquake Girl, Smoke Man, Wolverine Dude, etc.--created by a sinister CEO (Stephen Collins, having a ball) with his own mysterious intentions for the family. While a promising foundation for a series, the elements do admittedly take a while to jell, slogging through some mundane story lines involving muggers and jewel thieves and the like before raising both the stakes and the effects budget. By the second half of the series, a satisfying mythology has snapped into place, particularly with the introduction of a Freon-blooded supervillain played by the terrific Lucy Lawless. Thankfully, even when the plot falters, the performances remain top-notch throughout. Chiklis and Benz both make for appealingly fallible parental figures, attempting to maintain order while also secretly delighting in their new abilities. As the younger members of the team, Jimmy Bennett and Kay Panabaker also impress, especially in the case of the latter, whose developing ability to tamper with the minds of others leads to some intriguingly thorny subplots. While the lack of a second season unfortunately keeps No Ordinary Family from reaching the potential hinted at by the last few episodes, Chiklis and Co. do their best to keep things soaring.

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LGE31112 No Ordinary Family: The Complete First Season DVD ( $29.98 $26.99