'The Michael J. Fox Show' Review: A Legend Returns to TV
'The Michael J. Fox Show' Review: A Legend Returns to TV
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
There aren't many actors who are worthy of the title "living legend," but Michael J. Fox is one of them. He's been a working actor for nearly 40 years, he's won five Emmy Awards and now he's starring in yet another brilliant comedy, The Michael J. Fox Show, premiering at 9pm on NBC with a special one-hour launch before settling in at 9:30pm starting next week.

Luckily for us, it's a show worthy of his talents. The comedy centers on Mike Henry (Fox), an iconic New York local news anchor who retired after being diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. He rededicated his life to his family, but now, with the kids and his wife getting tired of his overly involved parenting style, he agrees to return to the news.

There's no way of avoiding Fox's real-life battle with Parkinson's, so instead the show hilariously addresses it head on. The Michael J. Fox Show strikes the perfect balance, making jokes about his condition and letting the audience know that it's OK to laugh without making it all about his disease. It's not too sappy. In fact, it makes fun of the sappiness.

Fox is a tour-de-force performer who proves that he hasn't lost his quick comedic timing. In the '80s he had Family Ties, in the '90s he had Spin City, and how a new generation gets to see why this actor is so beloved. Mike Henry is an eager, obsessive workaholic, only he considers his family part of that work. It's a refreshing and different kind of TV dad, not the lazy guy who just watches sports, takes his wife for granted and doesn't really talk to his kids. Mike is TOO involved.

It helps that Fox is surrounded by some top-notch talent, most notably Betsy Brandt and Wendell Pierce. Brandt, coming off the final season of Breaking Bad, does an about face in terms of tone and embraces the fun, silly energy of a wife who still enjoys playing around. And Pierce (from HBO's The Wire and Treme) is wonderfully scheming as the news director who brings Mike back into the fold.

Add in Mike's flighty sister Leigh (Katie Finneran, who now holds the record for greatest disparity between TV roles since she's coming off FOX's dreadful I Hate My Teenage Daughter) and a trio of unknown but talented young actors as Mike's children and you have a comedy that is able to bounce from family life to the workplace with great ease.

The Michael J. Fox Show may not be the edgiest or coolest comedy on TV, but it's a perfect fit for NBC's miraculously optimistic and family-friendly Thursday nights. With Parks and Recreation at 8pm and Parenthood at 10pm, NBC has crafted perhaps the most uplifting night of scripted TV ever. These are not cynical shows, they don't behave badly. These are shows about good-hearted, well-intentioned people who love their families. The Michael J. Fox Show is just plain good, in terms of quality and heart.

The Michael J. Fox Show premieres Thursday, September 26 at 9pm on NBC with two back-to-back episodes. Regular episodes begin Thursdays at 9:30pm starting October 3.

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(Image courtesy of NBC)