In the years since Michael J Fox left Spin City, he has very slowly built up an impressive list of guest appearances on other shows, including Scrubs, Boston Legal, Curb Your Enthusiasm and, most recently, The Good Wife. Clearly, his fans want him back on TV, and now he wants to be back on a regular basis. The question is…is The Michael J Fox Show the right vehicle for him?
The role is certainly tailor-made for him. He plays a former NBC New York news anchor, who left his job after his Parkinson’s diagnosis. Now, he’s back at home full time, and his entire family has had to adjust to that. If you think that’s the premise for the entire series, though, guess again. Things take some twists and turns in the first episode that shake up that premise from the very start. That’s the first hint that we may be getting more than we bargained for. Speaking of shaking and twisting, the first episode starts off seeming similar in style to Modern Family, with the characters in cutaways speaking directly to the camera. However, it doesn’t take long to realize that isn’t quite what it seems, either. It’s almost as though they’ve set up some expectations for the new viewer, and then switched it up on us. It’s kind of exhilarating to watch.
The cast meshes together nicely, for the most part. Fox and Betsy Brandt (Marie from Breaking Bad) seem like a believable couple, and their three kids seem to be the types of children this couple would raise. I’m not quite as sold on Kate Finneran as Mike’s sister. She may grow on me as the series progresses, but she seemed a bit unnecessary in the pilot episode. Wendell Pierce (The Wire, Treme) rounds out the cast, but to describe who he is would give away too much of what happens in the pilot, and I want to remain spoiler-free. He does a good job in his role, but I’ve never seen him do anything that wasn’t good or better.
The pilot isn’t what I would call hilarious, but it was amusing and engaging and it made me want to come back for more, so to answer the question whether this is the right vehicle for Fox, I say yes. Yes, it is (as opposed to, say, Matthew Perry, who was in the wrong one–Go On–last year).
TV Gord’s verdict: There’s a great future for this show!