There’s a secret power at work in “The Thundermans,” all right — namely, the ability to brazenly pilfer the plot of Pixar’s “The Incredibles” and transform it into a live-action series with virtually no wit or charm, except perhaps in the eyes of prepubescent kids who might find the attractive teen leads dreamy. Granted, there has been no shortage of similarly themed fare in the cable space — having super-powers remains one of those enduring childhood fantasies — but this lifeless effort makes virtually no pretense of original thought, other than perhaps the audacity to harbor absolutely no fear of copyright attorneys.
In one of those moves that makes about as much sense as anything else here, the show actually premieres with its fourth episode, which skips all the exposition in the pilot (also screened) about how the Thunderman family relocated to this quiet town, having given up crime-fighting with the hope the kids could “have a normal childhood” free of their costume-clad origins.
Dad (Chris Tallman), the original Thunderman, is a little paunchy these days, but he still thinks nothing of flying through the roof and zipping off to Hawaii if he’s craving macadamia nuts. Mom (Rosa Blasi) and the kids all have powers as well, though it’s not made clear if these were inherited, which is probably giving the whole exercise more thought than anyone associated with it bothered to do. (Incidentally, someone forgot to give them the “no capes” memo.)
The focus is primarily on the 14-year-old twins, Phoebe (Kira Kosarin) and Max (Jack Griffo), who, in what’s now the premiere, engage in a war of pranks. Both have powers — she can levitate and zap things; he yearns to become a super-villain — while their little brother (Diego Velazquez) runs super-fast (yes, also straight out of “The Incredibles”) and their sister (Addison Riecke) can shoot beams out of her eyes.
Aside from the initial flurry of special effects to establish the premise, “The Thundermans” quickly degenerates into just your run-of-the-mill live-action sitcom for small fry, albeit with a shared family secret they do a pretty poor job of keeping. The rule “No non-supes in the house,” for example, is quickly violated.
“Thunderman, away!” dad shouts before embarking on one of his leaps into the great unknown.
Indeed. And if flying through the roof isn’t an option, for these purposes exiting through the door or simply using remote control at lightning speed will work equally well.