NBC (ended 2014)

Hey you! This isn't a review, it's a PREview. Huge difference. Most notably, the "P." Also, these PREviews are based on early cuts of pilots that might change drastically by the time they officially hit the air, so we can't properly review them. But we CAN give you an idea of what to expect. In this series of early looks at the new shows of fall 2013, there's no contemplating, no deep analysis; just super-duper quick thoughts on what we just watched that we're passing on to you. We'll revisit each previewed show in the fall with the hyper-intellectual breakdowns and fart jokes you're used to from us goons here at TV.com. 



The Michael J. Fox Show – Thurdays starting September 26 at 9:30pm on NBC


STARRING AND CREATED BY: Michael J. Fox! Michael J. Fox! Michael J. Fox! It's right there in the title. But also Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad), Katie Finneran (Wonderfalls), Wendell Pierce (The Wire), and young'uns Conor Romero, Juliette Goglia, and Jack Gore as the kids. Sam Laybourne (Cougar Town) created the series and will run the show with Alex Reid (Up All Night), and Will Gluck (Easy A) will executive produce. 


THE GIST: Fox plays Mike Henry, a man who's five years removed from his gig as a popular New York news anchor following a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. But wait, it gets funnier! Without a job to fill his days, he spends most of his time getting all up in the business of his family (wife, three kids) and his sister, so he decides to go back to work. Naturally he wants to be treated just like a normal guy. Also naturally, that doesn't happen.


SNAP JUDGMENT: What might've come off as a charity case for a former television icon is actually a heartwarming, honest, and even slightly edgy vehicle for MJF to return to NBC. It's part throwback to the comfortable comedy of yore, with just enough modern-day touches to bring it into the present with relevance. This is good stuff, and it all starts with the treatment of Fox's character. Instead of focusing on Mike's disease, the show portrays Mike as a self-sufficient, driven, and somewhat-annoying father, husband, and human being. The way the character is disarmed gives Fox plenty of comedy to work with, and he's outstanding. Yes, there are plenty of Parkinson's jokes, but they don't dominate the pilot and they're actually quite funny in Fox's hands. Of course, every viewer will face their own little quandary about how comfortable they feel laughing at gags that focus on the disease (watching Fox try to open a pickle jar will be hilarious for some, frightening for others), but anyone who enjoyed Fox's guest role on Curb Your Enthusiasm will be fine. The rest of the cast (even the kids) takes the quick-witted humor and rolls with it, creating a fast-paced family comedy with a realistic domestic feel. But more than anything, this is a surprisingly funny show.


PILOTITIS DIAGNOSIS: The pilot moves along so comfortably that you won't realize it's establishing anything. There's a lot of the same magic from the Modern Family opener here.


FACES TO LOOK OUT FOR: Well you know Fox and you should know Brandt, Pierce, and Finneran (who are all fantastic), so pay attention to Goglia as the middle daughter in the family. She's had several small parts in various shows, but she's ready for the next step.


RANDOM THOUGHTS: Wendell Pierce has an excellent sexual intercourse finger-pantomime in the pilot that represents some very uncomfortable sex. Also, pickle jars.


EXCITEMENT LEVEL: Though it it's not really something that would typically appeal to my comedy tastes, The Michael J. Fox Show is easily one of the best comedy pilots of this year or last. It made me laugh... multiple times! Me! Can you believe it? Fuzzy feelings and chuckles all over the place. On the excitement meter, it's an 8 out of 10. On NBC's excitement meter, it should be a 1,000.


PILOT PREVIEW POWER RANKINGS: 

(Where we rank the fall season's pilots based on very early impressions)


DRAMA

1. Almost Human - J.J. Abrams and J.H. Wyman's robotic buddy-cop drama

2. The 100 - Teens have fun (and die) on post-apocalyptic Earth while the adults fight each other in a big tin can orbiting the planet

3. Intelligence - Josh Holloway stars as a Cyber Command agent who has Wi-Fi in his brain

4. Sleepy Hollow - Ichabod Crane zaps to the future to help a detective stop the Headless Horseman

5. The Tomorrow People - Young people, including Stephen Amell's cousin, get superpowers

6. The Blacklist - James Spader is a master criminal who turns himself in to the FBI on one condition: He only works with the pretty new FBI agent

7. Hostages - Toni Collette is a doctor whose family is taken hostage and will be killed by Dylan McDermott's character unless she kills the President in surgery

8. Dracula - Jonathan Rhys Meyers is the fanged one in this re-imagining of the classic story of an undead guy chasing his old girlfriend

9. Lucky 7 - A group of gas-station employees win the lottery, for better or worse


COMEDY

1. Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Andy Samberg and a bunch of buffoons are cops in Brooklyn

2. The Michael J. Fox Show - Fox returns as a man with Parkinson's who goes back to work to the delight of his family

3. Back in the Game - Maggie Lawson returns home and winds up coaching her son's Little League team while her drunk dad heckles her

4. Trophy Wife - Malin Akerman marries into a big family and ends up with two ex-wives and three stepchildren in the process 

5. The Crazy Ones - Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar are a father-daughter team in the advertising business

6. Mom - Anna Faris and Allison Janney play a mother and daughter with life problems

7. Enlisted - Geoff Stults goes to army reject camp with his two brothers 

8. About a Boy - Jason Katims' TV adaptation of the film adaption of Nick Hornby's novel about a man-boy friendship

9. Super Fun Night - Rebel Wilson and her loser friends hit the social scene

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 4/16/2014

Season 1 : Episode 21

55 Comments
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Laugh? There was nothing funny, including your article. Oh.. shave already bum.
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Hi
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I really hope it works for him. I love him in his guest star come back roles on the good wife and rescue me. I hope he will be back in the good wife too.
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I'll give it a shot.
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I'm watching because Michael J. Fox. My grandmother had Parkinson's, so I have a feeling I'll be fast-forwarding through those "jokes".
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when will the new deadpool start ? i can't wait
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I'm not a big fan of comedies but I'm glad that actors with a difficult condition are still able to do their job.
In his misfortune suffering from Parkinson's, MJF has been lucky on one point : he was famous before his disease so he still potentially could find a job and he was smart enough to include his disease into his various parts.
What I like the most here is that we don't feel pity for the guy : he is as annoying and funny as anyone.
As for the parkinson's jokes ? I think that we can laugh about everything; better laugh than cry.
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We'll have to see. I have a feeling this will be good, but it may taper off later in the season, a la "Go On." I'm saying maybe on this one.
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You have to give Fox credit. Not everyone would be willing to poke fun at their own debilitating condition.
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Can't wait to watch welcome back MJF
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I'll definitely be giving this the four episode test.
I'm going to again request that the rating and network for each show is added to the list at the bottom of these posts so that we can see which network has the better shows on the horizon.
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Ah, sure I will be watching this.
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'Of course, every viewer will face their own little quandary about how comfortable they feel laughing at gags that focus on the disease'. Well if they're anything like the ones seen in the trailer, I find them absolutely cringe-worthy. This isn't my sort of comedy anyway, but all the Parkinson's gag ensure I'll definitely be staying away from this show.
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Not my cup of tea
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Michael J Fox looks older in the mirror.

I am hoping the "heartwarming" part is not the overplayed card, I'd rather go for the "edgy" or any other element, but as promising as this could be, I fear "heartwarming" will turn it saccharine quickly.

So, quick question, if that liver drug turns out to be the magic bullet for Parkinsons Disease, is this show canceled? J/k-ish
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I'm glad for this news, but only because it probably means he's done with The Good Wife. His character used the disease as a legal gimmick in court, and he was extremely annoying.
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Well if it's the dark humour it seems to be consider myself in. I just don't know how I'll be able to look at Betsy Brandt without an intense hatred growing in my heart and a sudden urge to shout about minerals at the television...
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I'm not interested in sitcoms, but this one looks like it might be worth watching. It sounds like it could be exploitative, but from the clips I've seen Fox really seems to know what he's doing. And it helps to show that just because someone suffers from chronic disease doesn't mean their life is over. But if this show is successful, will disease become the new black?

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If you look at the current landscape of television there are already quite a few prominent characters in shows that have mental and/ or social diseases (Carrie from Homeland, Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, Brennan from Bones, Sonya from The Bridge). It has definitely become a staple for main characters in shows to have some sort of illness or problem that they must deal with/ overcome.

As for actual physical diseases like Parkinson's, the only examples I can think of are Junior from Breaking Bad and the upcoming Ironside (which is interestingly also on NBC, perhaps you're right an NBC are trying to start a trend?)
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Mental illness has always been commonplace, particularly for the villains. And there has been many shows that have dealt with life-threatening illnesses such as cancer and Alzheimer. But chronic, non-fatal illnesses aren't dealt with as often. Parkinson's is a serious illness and it affects muscle control, but it doesn't tend to shorten life.
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Every "social desease" case that you mention here (and Adrian Monk mentioned by Gislef) falls in the Hollywood category "smart people are so weird and actually dumb in a different way".
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And Adrian Monk...
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I am really excited for this but it will more than likely be cancelled. Much like everything else on NBC
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I will watch it...my grandfather had it and honestly if you can't find humor in stuff it is going to kill your spirit which I having had a chronic disease is the thing that keeps you going when your body feels like its betraying you. Actually let me rephrase...I might be on demanding this like parks and rec because I CAN'T RECORD NBC SHOWS SINCE THEY WILL NOT END WHEN SCHEDULED.
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I won't watch it. Both my gramma and a very good friend of our family has Parkinson's and it's just not something to joke about. Every trailer I see has at least one joke based in the tremors and there's nothing funny about it. I would hope there's more to it than that, but I see enough of this awful disease in person, I don't need to watch someone on TV making jokes about it. :(
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I can understand you position about th show. People deal with this disease in very different ways. If MJF prefers to laugh about it, good for him.
A very famous french artist, Pierre Desproges, had cancer. In his one man shows, he made fun of this disease, even though he was suffering from it. I guess it probably helped him live.
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Enjoy Fox immensely, but will not watch anything on NBC. Removed them from my channel list long ago, due to the anti-American nature of their newsroom and the hate-filled rhetoric of their cable channel, MSNBC.
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So, this is what you mean that you enjoy" Fox immensely". Now I get it. NBC will forever be the home of Chuck for me, more american than that, I can't imagine.
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I'm not American and I don't like NBC because they canceled shows I love. GO FIGURE.

This is too complicated...
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I was just kidding, you have the rght to like and hate anything you want, it's certainly not my place to tell yo otherwise. :)
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I'm sorry, that was actually aimed at JoeB08. I agree with your words. :)
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I will watch this like Michael J. Fox is in it and I loved all his work so far!
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I'm excited for this one!
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