Review of "Michael J. Fox Show" on NBC From The TV MegaSite

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The Michael J. Fox Show

"The Michael J. Fox Show" review by Sundi 9/17/13
Premieres Thursday September 26 on NBC

Going into NBCís comedy, The Michael J. Fox show, I was amped. I grew up on Alex P. Keaton, spent my twenties with Mike Flaherty, laughed at Dr. Casey on Scrubs and loved to root against him as Louis Canning on The Good Wife. So, naturally I was delighted to hear he was piloting a new comedy to air in the fall season. What better way to kick off one of the most anticipated comebacks than with a new sitcom bearing your own name? I was happy to see a familiar and much beloved face back on my television. And then I watched the first episode.


Donít get me wrong, the pilot was charming, and kind of funny and it had Michael J. Fox and Betsy Brandt and some endearing family moments. Whatís not to love, right?  The pilot, by NBCís own admission, is meant to desensitize you to Foxís disease using humor; making it ok to laugh at him, because heís laughing at himself. This is charming at first, but as the first two episodes unfold, the jokes start to rely pretty heavily on the fact that Mike Henry (Foxís character) has Parkinsonís disease. In fact, itís almost as if the disease is another character on the show. The pilot and second episode didnít do much to move away from this paradigm either; its mining a pretty familiar format, akin to primetime staples, Modern Family and The Middle. The only difference here (well, maybe not the ONLY difference) is that this family is rich, and, of course, coping with Parkinsonís disease (they donít want you to forget that).


Michael J. Fox is pretty much playing himself in this show, and for that I love it. The character of Mike Henry is so eager to please and has such obvious insecurities about his shortcomings he makes it really hard to not like him. Betsy Brandt is similarly winsome, as Mikeís wife Annie. She is far better suited to play this wife than the wife she has made famous (or infamous) on AMCís Breaking Bad.  Their give-and-take is superb and their relationship is neither snarky and sarcastic, like what is becoming trendy now, or saccharine-sweet. I want to be married to them.


The third episode found this cast finding its stride as it moved away from, and thankfully, relied less on, the Parkinsonís jokes. The other characters start to develop and the show becomes a more well-rounded comedy, exploring the more relatable aspects of their life, including a bit about the slutty-aunt-turned-smut-author in the third episode. I think this show is going to do okay. It is pretty funny when its not forcing us to laugh at his disease. The best jokes are the ones NOT about Parkinsonís, and Michael J. Fox is not usually one to let us down.


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