Hey, TV.com! Should I Watch The Michael J. Fox Show?
Did you watch Love and Other Drugs and think,"Man, why aren't there more Parkinson's jokes?"
The basic answer to that question is "because Anne Hathaway doesn't actually have Parkinson's"—it was just a performance! But Michael J. Fox does, and he's just the man to make fun of both himself and his disease on national television. When news came out last year that NBC had picked up The Michael J. Fox Show for a whole season without so much as even seeing a pilot, it was met with mixed feelings. Those feelings generally fell somewhere on the spectrum of "I heart Michael J. Fox" and "NBC is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs."
So, does a comedy about a guy with Parkinson's by a guy with Parkinson's deserve a spot in NBC's husk-of-what-it-used-to-be Thursday-night Must See TV lineup? Well, let's talk about it.
So it's about a guy with Parkinson's?
Less about "a guy with Parkinson's" and more about "a guy who is Michael J. Fox." Fox plays Michael Henry, a news anchor for NBC4 in New York who retired after his condition led to some interesting live-television antics, but who gets back into the game after a few years away despite his ailments. The show's about him, his family, and his work family through the skewed view of a man with a degenerative disorder.
Parkinson's is sad! Should expect a lot of weeping?
This isn't your Parenthood / Friday Night Lights treatment of disease. There's no milking, no violin music while Mike tries to serve up some eggs, no heavy meditation on the god-awful severity of his illness. It's a comedy. He makes fun of himself. Other characters are comfortable making fun of his tremors (and his stature). And, for the most part, the show behaves like a generic sitcom in its premise and in execution. The plots are garden-variety in the sitcom landscape, and the quirky family characters have potential but are pretty basic at the outset. The only major difference between this and a Chuck Lorre show is that this one is anchored by a charming man who also shakes. Oh, and this show is funny. That's how it's also different.
Who else is around to support MIchael J. Fox during this difficult times?
Really, guys. Stop it. It's not that kind of show. Coming off Breaking Bad is our gal Betsy Brandt, who plays Annie Henry, Mike's wife. It's nice to see her play someone sassier, stronger, and just flat-out more confident than Marie. It's weird not to see her in purple. But the big win is Wendell Pierce (The Wire, Treme) as Mike's boss at the news station, Harris Green. Pierce doesn't know how to do anything but kill it. Every time.
When can I catch it? The show, not Parkinson's. I know you don't catch Parkinson's. (Right?)
The Michael J. Fox Show debuts with a one-hour/two-episode series premiere on Thursday, September 26 at 9pm on NBC. It'll settle into its permanent time period of 9:30pm on Thursday, October 3. As far as I know, Parkinson's is not something you can catch from a toilet seat.
So, this show works? The laughing at a man slowly losing control of his body? What else is good about it?
Yeah, it's funny. It's so good-natured that the storyworld doesn't seem to contain anything more destructive than poor library budgeting and sarcastic comments. That has a lot to do with Mike and his generally charming presence. It wouldn't make sense if people were mean to him or tried to avoided him as if he had the plague. He's so magnetic that you have to appreciate him. It also helps that he's able to laugh at himself and his illness. It's inspirational, but without being pedantic or heavy-handed. It's ninja inspirational.
But it can't be all fun and games, right? What's not-so-good about it?
There's literally a joke in one of the first three episodes where Mike's family loses him in a Chuck E. Cheese-like ball pit because he's suffering tremors under the balls. And everyone laughs. So there are a lot of fun and games. But you also can't help but wonder how long this could possibly last. When will his condition force him to retire? How long can this premise be stretched? Will he be exhausted? But that's my only reservation about the show so far. It's a good clean time that you can enjoy while it lasts.
What's your final verdict?
Watch it. Don't worry too much about the uncomfortable subject matter; you'll be fine. You're not going to be blown away by the show's innovation, but you will be heart-warmed and charmed. And if you're not, you should probably get to a doctor because you may not be human.
Is there a trailer I can take a look at?
There is! There's a trailer for everything!
What should I drink while watching The Michael J. Fox Show?
Something with a secured lid? Okay, that's my tremors joke. Good night, folks.
The Michael J. Fox Show debuts on Thursday, September 26 at 9pm on NBC.
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