‘The Michael J. Fox Show’ Reviewed: 5 Things You Should Know About NBC's New Series

'The Michael J. Fox Show' Reviewed: 5 Things You Should Know About NBC's New Series

The “Family Ties” star has reverted to his lovable type after playing obnoxious guest stars in recent years

The past few years, Michael J. Fox has played deliciously against type in guest roles on “Rescue Me,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “The Good Wife.” Now he's back with his first series since exiting “Spin City” due to Parkinson's a dozen years ago, and he has reverted to his lovable onscreen self.

After those nuanced guest performances, the jokey married dad at the center of “The Michael J. Fox Show” is a bit of a disappointment. Sure, there are funny lines, and he's likeable enough, but the show's writing is overly broad and sitcomy. Well intentioned yes, but “The Michael J. Fox Show” is no “Family Ties.”

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The pilot, which airs Thursday evening on NBC, is the strongest of three episodes the network made available in advance. Here are five things to know about the show based on those early episodes.

1. The show addresses Parkinson's head on.
Fox's TV daughter Eve (Juliette Goglia) jokes about his jerking movements in the opening moments of the pilot, and before long his wife (“Breaking Bad” star Betsy Brandt, in fine comedic form) makes another about his tremors aiding lovemaking.

The Michael J. Fox Show - Season 1In fact, the entire pilot addresses some of the challenges of returning to work with that disease, from rolling chairs to bosses that want to play it up for “ratings gold.” Except on the show, Fox plays Mike Henry, a TV journalist, rather than actor.

“If I did come back it would be for the work, not the exploitation,” Fox's Mike tells his former boss Harris (Wendell Pierce) after avowing that he did not want a pity job.

The show less successfully depicts his daughter doing a hackneyed video report comparing her father's disease to “The Grapes of Wrath.” Her teacher rightly calls her out on that.

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2. Supporting actors bring nice comedic flair to the show.
Brandt and Pierce especially stand out, with Brandt believably playing the loving but bemused wife, and Pierce lightly droll as Henry's ladies man boss. Anne Heche also has fun as a competitive co-worker. But as with Fox, there's only so much they can do with the material.

The Michael J. Fox Show - Season 13. Fox's wife makes an appearance.
The actor met Tracy Pollan on “Family Ties,” and she appears in the “Neighbors” episode as the super flirty divorcee that moves in upstairs and gets Henry hot and bothered. The less said about those verging on pervy scenes the better.

4. The mockumentary device lives on in “The Michael J. Fox Show.”
It's slightly excusable here given Henry's profession as a TV journalist.

5. Warning: There are lessons to be had.
Wouldn't you know it: the family learns the value of dining together by the end of the pilot. And that's just the first of several lightly-dispensed messages to be gleaned from early episodes. If one is so inclined.

  • love.violet524

    Wishing all the best to Mike and his new show. He truly is one of the Greats. If our culture needs to slow down a bit from this madness that has become our normal to appreciate him and the message of the show – then All The Better! who knows, maybe I'll find a reason to get a TV again.
    Could it be that Mike, Robin Williams and Kevin Bacon may actually save TV, and our cultural conscience? I sure hope so.
    Peace & Love

    • larry

      Fox's show will get cancelled !

  • Devin McMusters

    The best part of this show is that it (hopefully) keeps him off of The Good Wife.

  • BL61

    I Like Fox, but show was just terminally bad. Switched channels half way in.

    • larry

      I could not wait for a commercial break !

      • nanooknw

        The commercials were the only thing we understood.

  • larry

    The show is just awful !

  • larry

    I switched channels to T V land, watched “Love Raymond’

    • Carol Faver

      So did I….(my husband thought I wrote your original message) LOL

  • larry

    He is done, just like Robin Williams !

  • larry

    Why can't they make shows funny like the old days!

  • larry

    These two actors are yesterdays newspaper !

  • concerned

    It is sad, but it hurts to see Michael like this and it looks so painful physically for him to be acting on this show. I tried to watch this show out of respect for this man, yet the pain of seeing him this way was too much. My pain for him is an inkling compared to what this man is going through in life and I respect him for trying on this show, but I do not think it will make it.

  • thewidge

    I had a terrible time trying to catch the dialogue, anyone else experience this?

    • Niko

      Yes…I had to put on my closed-captions just to understand what they were saying.

      • Mary Walsh Philippus

        I could almost lip read mjf and realized Brandt and Pierce were easily decipherable but still had to switch to cc

      • nanooknw

        Our closed caption couldn't even keep up with the nonsense so we turned it off.

  • Bob

    Michael J Fox is a loser…not because of his Parkinson's but because of his ideology. He is a Leftist Commie. They all are.

    • Beth Trader

      ‘they all are?’ Your brush is rather wide.

  • Brenda Kincaid

    My Father died from Parkinson's. There is nothing funny about it. I hope they cancel the show.

    • nanooknw

      I had a good friend die from Parkinson's and I agree. I don't find anything funny about it either.

  • nanooknw

    I really hated this show and will never watch it again. Trying to make a serious disease funny does not work. It just makes you look like a pompous a$$ who thinks anything that you do is funny. Not!!
    Really, really bad. Really, really lame!!

  • NJFan

    I have always liked Michael J Fox and was looking forward to this show. I wanted to like it, but I just didn't. It needs better writing. I don't think this one is going to last very long.