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Picks and Pans Main: TV

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No Ordinary Family

ABC, Sept. 28, 8 p.m. ET |


This smart new superhero drama adds just enough nuance to its wish-fulfillment fantasy to hook adults as well as kids. It’s as if Heroes moved onto Wisteria Lane. Michael Chiklis (The Shield) and Julie Benz (Dexter) take their teenage son and daughter on an Amazon vacation that nearly kills everyone when their plane crashes in jungle waters full of glowing bubbles. Apparently the family that plays together mutates together: Back home, Chiklis, a police sketch artist who feels eclipsed by his scientist spouse, has acquired astounding bounce and resilience. Benz is now supersonically fast, their daughter reads minds, and their son is a human computer. The cast plays out the adjustment process with the right touch of pleased humor, although Chiklis has an edge: He already looks superhuman, like a bowling ball treated with growth hormone.

$#*! My Dad Says

CBS, Thursdays, 8:30 p.m. ET/PT |


CBS pronounces $#*! as “bleep,” although the Twitter account that inspired the show uses an actual profanity. Either works as a short critique. William Shatner is an irascible retiree stuck playing host to his son (Jonathan Sadowski), an unemployed writer. The old man greets life with a volley of insults that are meant to be crassly funny but also adorable and true. He’s both Archie Bunker and Buddhist monk. The role is so crazily at odds with itself, the star looks as if he might explode and rain Shatner shrapnel down on all.

Sister Wives

TLC, Sept. 26, 10 p.m. ET/PT |


A reality Big Love, Sister Wives is about Utah ad executive Kody Brown and what he calls his “lifestyle.” He’s a polygamist sharing a suburban compound with three wives-as the show begins, he’s courting a fourth-and 13 children. (Legally, however, Brown is married to only one of the women.) The wives are overwhelmed by the prospect of an addition, but this group is as comfortable with the camera as the early-era Gosselins: It’s Jon & Kate & Kate & Kate. Yet how will this insular honeycomb survive now that it’s out in the open?