TV Review: ‘The Michael J. Fox Show’

The Michael J. Fox Show Review

Rooting for Fox's NBC comeback would be easier if his show was better

Early in “The Michael J. Fox Show,” the central character — who is not exactly Michael J. Fox, but close enough — tells his wife of an appearance on the “Today” show: “I’d just be a feel-good story to them.” And therein lies the nagging problem with a series that, given Fox’s heroic struggles against Parkinson’s disease, many people will be rooting for, and would cheer harder if only it were better. Having Fox back on NBC Thursday roughly 30 years later has a certain symmetry, but generating sustained interest in his comeback vehicle will require more than just good will.

The series does have fun with the meta aspects of Fox resisting a sympathy factor in plotting his return to TV — in the show as a local TV newsman in New York, where he has been nursing a longstanding (if apparently one-sided) rivalry with “Today’s” Matt Lauer. (Someone should really declare a moratorium on NBC News talent making sitcom cameos, but at this point, anything to soften up Lauer’s image.)

The conceit is that Mike’s caring wife (“Breaking Bad’s” Betsy Brandt, getting the most out of a pretty stock sitcom-spouse role) and his news-director boss Harris (Wendell Pierce) have conspired to get him back to work and out of the house after the character’s Parkinsons-related sabbatical, since he’s driving the whole family crazy. Of the three kids, the show also seems to devote extra attention to Mike’s eye-rolling teenage daughter Eve (Juliette Goglia), though another teenage smartass is close to the last thing primetime needs.

Not surprisingly, writer Sam Laybourne seeks laughs in Mike’s condition, including an errant 911 call that only gets worse when he explains he mis-dialed because “my drugs haven’t kicked in.” Pierce also has fun portraying Harris as a ladies man, although you sort of wish that didn’t extend to flirting with attractive young interns around work.

Harmless as it is, “The Michael J. Fox Show” remains a pretty thin concoction, built heavily around the appeal of its leading man. The project’s perceived vanity aspects aren’t aided by the fact that Fox’s real-life wife Tracy Pollan has a guest role in the second half of the two-episode premiere as an attractive neighbor who makes Mike extremely uncomfortable.

Since the scheduling eventually places the show after “Sean Saves the World” instead of the more logical 9 p.m. anchor spot, Fox’s vehicle is likely going to have to be a true self-starter — on a night where NBC’s expectations have fallen far and fast from those heady “Must-See TV” days.

The Peacock made a major commitment to bring Fox back into its coop, and if the gamble succeeds, it will indeed be a feel-good story (although in point of fact, the star has been too busy in series like “Rescue Me” and “The Good Wife” for the “comeback” designation to fully apply). It’s only too bad that watching the show doesn’t make you feel a little better, too.

“Guaranteed ratings,” the anything-for-a-viewer Harris announces when Mike reenters the newsroom. But for Mike’s alter ego and real-world NBC, there are, alas, no such sure things.

TV Review: 'The Michael J. Fox Show'

(Series; NBC, Thurs. Sept. 26, 9 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in New York by Olive Bridge Entertainment in association with Sony Pictures Television.

Crew

Executive producers, Michael J. Fox, Will Gluck, Sam Laybourne, Alex Reid; co-executive producers, Richie Schwartz, Ben Wexler; supervising producer, Paul Mather; producers, Lon Zimmet, Dan Rubin, Leila Strachan; director, Gluck; writer, Laybourne; camera, John Inwood; production designer, Marcia Hinds, Gae Buckley; editors, Michael Berenbaum, Liz Merrick, Tia Nolan; casting, Julie Tucker, Ross Meyerson. 30 MIN.

Cast

Michael J. Fox, Betsy Brandt, Conor Romero, Juliette Goglia, Katie Finneran, Wendell Pierce, Ana Nogueira, Jack Gore

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  1. kay says:

    I don’t think any Michael j Fox show will do well. Plain truth, his Parkisons is very unsettling. I could not watch him on the Good Wife or his new show. I do, however, admire his jutzpaw (sp).

  2. JR says:

    Only character worth watching is Michael J Fox. The rest are not what I’d call supporting, but more like disappointing. Couldn’t make it through the 2nd episode…sorry, Robin Williams as himself is funnier and more worth the watch. This is disappointing to say the least. Would have been better off building a show around his characters from other successful shows that this. Not worth the watch.

  3. Kipster says:

    Ok, so just got done watching the third episode, and unfortunately it wasn’t any better than the first two shows. The jokes and punchlines are just not funny. Still no chemistry between the characters, nothing between them feels natural. The flow of the show is still way too fast. I struggle to make out what MJF is saying, but that is part of his affliction, so that is to be expected. Horrible scripts and bad casting, are the two things that will top the list of this show’s demise. Fox is better than this show, and his talent deserved better.

  4. Em Anne says:

    Any comments which ridicule Michael J. Fox for his parkinsons are abhorrent. A tv show is a tv show, but people can be so cruel, especially on the internet. Regardless political pursuasion etc.-some things are just wrong.
    When we talk about celebrities etc. or write comments we forget these are real actual people.

  5. Kevin says:

    I gathered the family to watch the show – with great excitement. I have early onset Parkinson’s and was looking forward to Michael’s show. The joke about “top stuff” – whatever. The joke about “did take your meds so I don’t have to do all the work” – funny. But Michael’s boss exclaiming to Michael “I’m going to make love with my shirt on” to the neighbor woman he just met – what was Michael going for?? Guffaws from my 15 year old?? Chuckles from my twin daughters??

    Biggest disappointment of the year!

  6. sally says:

    Love MJF, but thought the show was not funny, too hectic, not something I want to watch again. It’s too
    bad because everyone loves Michael.

  7. Skip says:

    Very little comedy, a thin gruel of Fox, way too much self-promotion by the nearly defunct NBC, and irrelevant political shots add up to a sure loser. Too bad, so sad.

  8. Jay says:

    Sorry but MJF had his great fame now is sad to see him shaking all over. I enjoyed him in Team wolf, Back to the future and the secret of my success. Family ties was boring.
    I think he should not go back to tv just to make a point about his illness.

  9. Kevin says:

    It is good to see that MJF didn’t just go into hiding with the PD. He may want to now! Will the PD jokes still be funny in week 3?

  10. Ashley Stevens says:

    Fire Sam Laybourne! Not Funny!..His family was a real drag. I have always loved Michael J Fox. When I saw him on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” I laughed hysterically. Also there is no reason to have anti Christian slant. I was so much looking forward to this show but was so disappointed. I will not watch it again.

  11. Kipster says:

    I watched both the pilot and the second show last night, and was disappointed. I was so looking forward to seeing MJF back on my tv, but my goodness, that show at times was almost unwatchable. No chemistry between the characters and Fox, and lame storylines, left me feeling bored. Most of the dialogue was too fast, and made the pace of the show feeling a little manic. By copying Modern Family ( talking to the camera), the writers threw all originality out the window. For me, the only bright spot was seeing Fox’s real wife, Tracy Pollan, and the give and take they shared in their scenes together. They still have that certain something that they exhibited on Family Ties, back when family sitcoms ruled the airwaves. It left me a bit nostalgic, and wishing she had been cast to play his wife on this new show, instead of Betsy Brandt.

  12. Marv says:

    Terrible. Poor concept bad acting. Hope it’s gone ASAP

  13. Becka says:

    I am watching his new show right now and it’s a hoot. I don’t know anything about his views on anything all I know is this show is good clean comedy and so refreshingly good. All the actors are great too. I can’t wait until next Thursday night so I can enjoy the next show. I’m an average joe and really didn’t expect to like this show as much as I do.

  14. tom says:

    Tons of liberal stabs and inserts at every turn. I was trying to enjoy it but it turned into a pro Obama convention. Im done. Too bad Mike we loved you in back to the future.

  15. Lori Taylor says:

    I just wanted to say how proud I am of you for bringing yourself back into the public. As I grew up I knew that anything, sitcom or movie, that had Michael J Fox in it was really worth watching. You have always been such an entertainer and an icon. I am so very glad that you decided to come back into the public showing that anyone is bigger than their disability. Thank you for showing others what they can accomplish.

  16. alicealan says:

    I have been waiting to see this show ever since I heard it was coming out. I don’t care about the plot all I care is that my lovable Michael J. Fox is coming back to tv. It’s good to see a new show where the plot doesn’t revolve around sex and the usual lame things. I always loved his work and his on my list of favorite actors and well he has always been hot so he can count on me all the time. I love Michael as much as Davy Jones and both will always have a special place in my heart.

  17. mrivera says:

    Any truth to the rumor they’re getting Muhammad Ali to play his roommate?

  18. Anne says:

    I commented earlier before I had read a lot of the other comments. I am at a loss to understand the vitriol exhibited by the majority of posters. Makes me waver back and forth between wanting the haters to also experience having their brains malfunction, and not wanting to wish this on anyone. I am scared to death of what my future might be like as a person with PD. MJF shows me that I can laugh in the face of my fear. These comments, however, scare me much more than my prognosis. Thank goodness I am lucky enough to be surrounded by a lot of wonderful people in my life. Ultimately, I find myself pitying the haters. I read the mean posts and know that they, too, show signs of brain miswires. At least my condition is treatable. Hmmm…how does one administer a needed epiphany?

  19. Anne says:

    Why on earth are there so many hateful comments like yours? Not to mention all the misquoting and false attributions taking place. Next time you claim someone said something so stupid, maybe you can post a site containing evidence to prove the words didn’t originate in your fevered little mind.

  20. Anne says:

    Whether or not it is good TV is not a central issue with me. I am dealing with PD and am very happy to see more attention paid to this condition, not to mention someone being brave and irreverent enough to acknowledge the humor factor even though it is scary to contemplate a rather bleak future due to PD. Thanks MJ!

  21. Mr. Science says:

    Love all the assholes pissed he’s pro stem cell research. Too bad your “destroyed a life” comments are so last decade. Stem cell research is passed using just embryos and has moved into neural stem cells and cord blood. RESEARCH EVOLVES. Sometimes the starting point isn’t favorable but it doesn’t take a genius to understand the finishing point, can be some distance apart. This isn’t just about Parkinson’s. It’s about spinal cord injuries, cancer, Alzhiemers, aging, various birth defects and other diseases/injuries yet to be added to the list. Do you have ANY idea how expensive these diseases/injuries are and the stress they add to the tax fund and families? What about soldiers who have spinal cord injuries, brain damage, nevere damage or extreme pain as a result of fighting for YOUR country and freedom (since you Republic’s are so pro-army)? Aside from restoring someone to their natural, healthy, life, Mr. tax Payer wouldn’t be stuck with the burden. Quite being a narrow-minded dumbass. When your suffering or have a life changing disease or injury, remember your dumbass comments. Or, we can go back to torturing poor, innocent, primates, dogs, cats and other animals and finding the results mean NOTHING when it comes to humans, or is even detriemental.

  22. Sonny says:

    I use to like Micheal Fox until he got political, that ended it for me; especially the adds with him shaking and wanting the government to fund stem cell research. I don’t watch anything he is in now. To bad Mike you blow it with 50% of your viewing audience.

    • Anne says:

      Wow. You may not be a jerk in real life, but you play one convincingly online. Not sure whats got your boxer shorts in such a wad, but thanks for illustrating just how petty and mean-spirited humans are capable of being.

  23. rprup says:

    I used to be a fan of Michael J. Fox until he admitted that he purposely did not take his meds so he would appear to be more sympathetic when he was making a political statement. Don’t recall all the specifics but do recall that it was a very manipulative thing to do.

    • Anne says:

      I don’t remember such an admission from MJF. I do, however, remember Rush Limbaugh accusing him of skipping his meds. The fact is that the involuntary torso movements are a side-effect of Sinamet, the main drug used in the treatment of PD. Some people might argue why take it at all? It is hard to explain the benefits of taking this drug, but, believe me, they are there. You have obviously confused quotes and have spotlighted your hate and ignorance quite vividly.

      • Christine says:

        It is true – he did admit to not taking his meds so his tremors would be worse when he spoke politically about his cause. I’m sure if you searched online, you will find it. By the way, I watched both episodes of his show last night….that’s an hour of my life I’ll never get back.

  24. Spikewee says:

    It’s great Fox can show that illness won’t keep him down but this program, like most programing these days, seems tone deaf to potential viewers.

  25. who would want to watch a shaky old liberal?

  26. Joe Biden says:

    Adam, if this was about a conservative actor the vitriol would be from the leftists. The lesson here is keep your political mouth shut if your life is on the stage. Audience = money and it doesn’t pay to piss off half the audience.

  27. Adam says:

    Look at all these comments from right wingers. Nothing but HATE and ANGER and UGLINESS from these people, all the time. They must be so sad in their lives to post all of these comments – just about a sitcom. So sad. No wonder they lost the last two general elections. Ugh, go away.

  28. Allen says:

    My god. What an idiotic response. I’ll never figure out how the intellectually incurious manage to bring politics into every single Internet post written.

    Watch or don’t watch. No one really give a damn, you know? I’m sure you’re also one of the teabaggers declaring THE BUTLER would be an enormous failure.

    Get. A. Life.

    • Samuel Hain says:

      My God. Allen’s response is beyond idiotic. Fox is the one who decided to broadcast his political opinions, Brainiac. And Fox gives a damn whether people watch, although no one is. Remember that part?

  29. kestrel27 says:

    The problem with Liberals like Michael J. Fox, is they just aren’t funny nor entertaining. I don’t watch a show because the character has Parkinson’s disease. I watch something to be entertained. Liberal shows always have some idiotic agenda like Left wing slanted politics, homosexuality, or America is the problem in the world. All White men are portrayed as stupid bumbling fools, kids are always smarter than adults despite having no real world experience, women are better than men, except Black men, and homosexual men are better than all of them. In other words, Liberal TV shows are so boring and predictable. You’d have more fun watching grass grow.

  30. Chris jones says:

    The first few episodes of every new TV show has “bugs” and “Glitches”.. Eventually, all of it will be worked out by the start of season 2 (hopefully

  31. Bob Forsberg says:

    Entertainment is just that….entertainment…..not about people with disabilities trying to be entertaining. I feel for the decades of trouble Mr. Fox has struggled with, but that doesn’t deserve a Prime Time slot on my TV. Just saying what most people are thinking but don’t want to admit to others….the elephant in the room….

  32. tressa says:

    Give it a chance…Michael J. Fox is the consummate performer and I believe that the writers will modify and fix it til it is right…Is it hard to make something funny with the leading man suffering from Parkinson’s disease, but it can be done…Not to bring in personal comments, but my husband has Parkinson’s disease and the man is a walking stand up comic…he is so funny..and everywhere he goes people laugh…he is brave and doesn’t feel sorry for himself…So I for one will watch only because I just love MJF..he is just a wonderful guy.

  33. Nameless1 says:

    So will MJF be drinking DIET PEPSI in his new show? Many believe that the ASPARTAME in sugar-free drinks is what causes crippling diseases like Parkinson’s. Wonder if MJF is still guzzling that stuff?

    • Yes, it is true. Aspartame in Diet drinks are directly linked to Parkenson’s and Alzheimers. I’m a bio Chemic Nutritionist and tried for years to get word to Fox to warn him of it, but he was impossible to reach. He lived on Diet Colas and maybe still does. Anyone with needed info for him cannot get it to him – I tried for years to back in the 90’s. MSG is another brain destroyer. It’s in EVERYTHING !

      • Italy2007 says:

        Sorry Aspartame is NOT linked to Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease. When you can provide me control based, large scale clinical trials research data then perhaps we can discuss

    • Mozwhite says:

      You are retarded

      • Cath C says:

        Yikes, I’ve been “on” aspartame since it came out . . . and before that, saccharin! Since I’m OLDER than Michael, when should I expect my disease(s) to kick in?

  34. shrapnel2003 says:

    Amen to that Mr Cox.

  35. Do you even believe this garbage your spewing? You sound hysterical.

  36. Frank Thoma says:

    A Canadian, to boot. Is he even a citizen? Doubt it.

  37. The saddest thing about the haters on here is that they seem to be totally unaware how transparent their jealousy is and how dead their souls are.

  38. Karen what exactly do you know about Obamacare that makes you so angry? Why do you resent MJF for having the resources to treat his illness. What is the source of darkness in your soul that makes you jealous of an ill person? Is it because he overcomes obstacles in his life and you’re trapped?

  39. You’re evil. I can’t imagine the hell your life is.

  40. sharinlite says:

    The creative mind is gone in hollywoodland…it has been gone for decades. They are bereft of stories
    which is baffling because the one book on this planet that has just about every type of moving story has been the best selling book for millenium…the Bible!

  41. Climp Jones says:

    does he plan on tight roping across the Grand Canyon with out his meds? If so I’ll pay to watch that

  42. Checkmate King Two says:

    This guy was never really anything special, even in his prime.

  43. Curtis says:

    Fox should be playing a CEO of a major corporation that has people trying to suck up, regardless of his ineffectiveness.

  44. Victor says:

    Ask the Doc to build another time machine and go back to Family Ties era

  45. Ryk E Lee says:

    Needs some Stem Cells that’s all.

  46. Unknown says:

    Your an ass clown. Show is funny. Good for him. No pity or good will neccesary. Dumbass.

  47. I used to like Michael J. Fox….Family Ties, Back To The Future, and all that. When he accused people who didn’t vote for his political candidate of curtly and torture I was utterly offended. Mr. Fox, you are a jack ass! I wouldn’t watch your show if it were the only thing on TV!

  48. Mark Webb says:

    Is it wrong to say it got off to a shaky start?

  49. Mark says:

    Because Mikey was never FUNNY. NOW he is just sad and pathetic. NORMAL people don’t want to watch this kind of garbage on tv. Maybe he should go out and lobby for more dead babies to try to find a cure to his condition.

    • Anne says:

      By ‘normal’ do you mean healthy? If your scathing comment is a ‘normal’ response (and judging by the majority of the other comments it seems to be) then give me abnormality! Bet you consider yourself a Christian, too.

  50. JIM says:

    ALEX TELL GUCK TO STAY IN L.A.. HE IS NO LONGER FUNNY OR CLEVER. TWO WORDS…….. IRA UNDERLINGER. UNDERSTOOD?

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