It's hard to classify "No Ordinary Family" (ABC, 8 p.m.), which makes it debut tonight.
Following a regular family who suddenly discover they have superpowers, it's a bit like "Heroes" in the sense of how it takes an ordinary person and suddenly makes them powerful, but it doesn't have the latter's needlessly complex background conspiracy.
It's also a bit like "Smallville," showing teens just trying to fit in despite being abnormal, but it doesn't have "Smallville's" comic-book heritage or sensibility.
Mostly, it's reminiscent of Pixar's "The Incredibles," about a family that tries to bond because of its powers, even though they have a harder time fitting in because of them.
Indeed, "Ordinary" is more of a family drama than it is an action-adventure series, though it has elements of the latter as well.
Jim (Michael Chiklis) is going through a mid-life crisis: a failed artist, he has to make due as a police sketch artist while his wife Stephanie (Julie Benz) is a world-renowned medical researcher. Teenage daughter Daphne (Kay Panabaker) is trying to fit in with her catty classmates, while son JJ (Jimmy Bennett) struggles with a learning disability.
Jim decides the family needs to spend more time together, so they all head to South America on a research trip for Stephanie. After a plane crash, the four return home, only to discover they have superhuman abilities. Jim has superstrength; Stephanie, superspeed; Daphne, telepathy; and JJ, a genius IQ. The powers manifest themselves as a sort of wish fulfillment.
"Ordinary" doesn't take itself too seriously, though it's not really played for laughs, either. Romany Malco steals several scenes as Jim's best friend turned sidekick when the latter decides to put his newfound powers to good use.
"Ordinary" incorporates a "Modern Family" style bit of narration as Jim and Stephanie address the camera several times. It might seem like a strange narration technique for a drama, but it makes sense at the very end.
The show needs to settle on a tone, vacillating between action, comedy and family drama too frequently, but it remains entertaining nonetheless, and Chiklis remains one of TV's most underrated and versatile actors, playing a complete 180 difference than Vic Mackey of "The Shield."
TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: I can't understand why CBS delayed "The Good Wife" (CBS, 10 p.m.) for a week, but let's just say it was worth the wait. Though the show makes some key changes, including a merger between Alicia's (Julianna Margulies) firm and a D.C.-based law firm, the show doesn't miss a beat in its sophomore season. As always, Margulies shines brightly, and there's a sequence in court near the end when you will see why she got robbed when she didn't win the Emmy for Best Actress. It follows new episodes of "NCIS" and "NCIS: LA."
"Glee" (Fox, 8 p.m.) is usually at its worst when it devotes a whole episode to a pop sensation, such as Lady Gaga or Madonna, so my expectations are low for tonight's Britney Spears tribute, though it is mitigated a bit because the episode also centers around bubbleheaded blond cheerleader Brittany, one of the show's best creations. It's followed by the new sitcoms, "Raising Hope" and "Running Wilde."
"Dancing With The Stars" and "Detroit 1-8-7" follow "Ordinary" from 9-11 p.m., while NBC has two hours of "The Biggest Loser," followed by "Parenthood."
The CW has "One Tree Hill" and "Life Unexpected" from 8-10 p.m.
One of the best bets for the night is a new addition to Ken Burns' documentary "Baseball" called "The 10th Inning," (PBS, 8 p.m.), in which the acclaimed filmmaker updates the original by looking at recent events in the sport, including the steroid era.
On cable, "Stargate: Universe" (SyFy, 9 p.m.) kicks off a new season, while "Sons of Anarchy" (FX, 10 p.m.) is also new on one of TV's busiest nights.
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