The Michael J. Fox Show: Does He Still Have It?

Get More: Polls, Premieres, Recaps

The Michael J Fox Show SpoilersThere’s a point in Thursday’s premiere of The Michael J. Fox Show (9/8c) where Fox, as former local news anchor Mike Henry, contemplates a return to the medium he left after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease years before.

“What if I’m not the guy they remember?” he uncertainly asks wife Annie (played beautifully by Breaking Bad‘s Betsy Brandt), the line an obvious nod to Fox’s own sitcom comeback.

It’s a valid concern. Fox was beloved as Family Ties‘ Alex P. Keaton and Spin City‘s Mike Flaherty… but hasn’t carried a series since City wrapped more than a decade ago. Can a half-hour comedy – in which Fox/Henry’s debilitating illness is a joke hit lovingly but often – match up to his previous successes?

You’ll let us know your thoughts on that in a moment; first, a short recap of the double-episode premiere.

RELATED | Michael J. Fox on His ‘Sexy’ TV Reunion With Wife Tracy (And Why Billy Vera Wasn’t Invited)

At the start of the pilot, Fox’s character is a stay-at-home dad whose micromanaging drives his family nuts. He finally agrees to go back to work at New York’s NBC affiliate but wants to avoid the anchor-overcoming-adversity angle. That proves tough, especially when his boss Harris (Treme) commissions a slow-mo, welcome-back promo set to Enrique Iglesias’ “Hero.”

But it’s not like Mike’s family is any less exploitative; teen daughter Eve (Juliette Goglia, Good Luck Charlie) unsuccessfully tries to pass off a lazy iPhone video about her dad’s “struggle” as an English project – thus setting up the characters-speaking-directly-to-the-camera interview device that continues into the second episode. Meanwhile, college-age son Ian (Conor Romero, Person of Interest) is back home after dropping out of Cornell, and youngest child Graham (newcomer Jack Gore) competes with his aunt Leigh (Katie Finneran, Wonderfalls) for who’s the less mature.

By the end of the first half-hour, Mike is back on the air with a piece that gets him booked on – and then bumped from – NBC’s Today. (Let’s hope the “Matt Lauer is a jerk” thing turns into a running gag.) But the slight setback doesn’t matter much when all of the Henrys sit down for a family meal, something Mike’s desired for a while.

PHOTOS | Fall TV Spoiler Spectacular: Scoop on 45 Returning Favorites!

The next ep finds Mike entranced by the Henrys’ new upstairs neighbor (played by Fox’s real-life wife and former Family Ties co-star Tracy Pollan). He likes that she makes him feel desirable, which comes across as a little bit disingenuous, given the fun, sexy married relationship Brandt and Fox establish in the pilot.

Mike and Annie invite neighbor Kelly to dinner with Harris; when the pair hit it off, Mike is displeased. The evening ends with the anchor apologizing to his perfectly lovely, very understanding spouse at an arcade adjacent to Times Square – the location comes about thanks to some secondary plots involving the kids. Plus, how else could the installment end with ball-pit funtimes?

At the end of the full hour, you come away with the sense that Fox’s comedic timing and presence are undiminished; he and Brandt, in particular, play off each other in a way that serves the series well.

That’s what we thought, but how about you? Grade the episodes via the poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice!



Comments (53)

  • Does he still have it? He never lost it!!!

    Comment by Michele – September 26, 2013 07:04 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • ^This. Love him!

      Comment by Lindsey – September 26, 2013 07:05 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • My wife and I didn’t find a single giggle, nothing but a boring soap opera. I read the other comments, I don’t know which episode they (one’s that thought it was funny) watched but last night’s bummer will be our last. And, we both are huge Michael J Fox fans and were really looking forward, Oh well…

      Comment by Mike Rowe – September 27, 2013 11:01 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Really? Are you brain dead?

        Comment by Kevin – October 7, 2013 05:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I have two things to say about this after I watched the second episode:

    1. This is no offense to the actress playing his wife, but I wish they got Tracy Pollan (who played the neighbor) to play his wife. I just think they would bounce better off each other. Plus even in that short snippet, I saw the chemistry between them.

    2. The moment when he drops the roll intentionally on his friend (Wendell Pierce, who was great in the show) and then goes “Oops. Parkinson’s” made me laugh out loud. I hope there are more moments like that. Instead of having Parkinsons’s act as a disability, he turns it into a kind of weapon or special defense to actions. I like that.

    Comment by Greg Eckes – September 26, 2013 07:16 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Well I would hope he has good chemistry with Pollan seeing as how she’s his real life wife.

      Comment by Regal – September 26, 2013 07:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Well yea, but I think that even if they were trying to tone it down and make it seem like it wasn’t there, it was still there. They a bit playful with each other in a way. I didn’t get that real sense between him and his wife in the show.

        Now what is said above is that his wife in the show (Betsy Brandt) and him have good chemistry in the pilot. If that’s the case, then it’s not good for the show to have that inconsistency.

        Comment by Greg Eckes – September 26, 2013 07:32 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • There was an interview published earlier today on this site about how they considered casting Tracy Pollan as his TV wife, but they decided that that kind of 24/7 togetherness was a bad idea for personal reasons.
          It may be our loss, but it’s hard to fault them for making that call.

          Comment by wordsmith – September 26, 2013 09:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • that “oops, parkinson’s!” line got me good too LOL. though i was underwhelmed by the main plot line of that second episode (husband thinks the neighbor is hot, wife is annoyed that her husband wont just admit it, husband tries to compensate by acting a doofus… booorrriiiinnnggg), i still enjoyed it very much.

      Comment by cjeffery7 – September 26, 2013 09:36 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I completely agree! I found it hilarious that he used it in that way. I mean, if you already have to deal with this ailment, might as well make the best of it!

      Comment by Lisa – October 4, 2013 12:58 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • So many shows to watch OnDemand.

    Comment by Chablis – September 26, 2013 07:22 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • With 30 Rock and The Office already gone, NBC should have a breakout sitcom in The Michael J. Fox Show and it does have potential and the supporting cast are great including Betsy Brandt aka Marie from Breaking Bad and Wendell Pierce who was amazing on HBO’s The Wire. I give The Michael J. Fox Show an outstanding grade of A (same grade I did with Crazy Ones).

    Comment by Flacco Kaepernick – September 26, 2013 07:38 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I will say this: I laughed more at the MIchael J Fox Show than I did at The Crazy Ones, but I think I liked The Crazy Ones more than the Michael J Fox Show. Figure that one out.

      Comment by Greg Eckes – September 26, 2013 07:45 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The show wasn’t bad but it felt generic. It was nice to see a family who didn’t have dysfunction. The self- deprecating humor wasn’t bad. Maybe the show will get better as it progresses. Always liked MJF and his positive attitude is admirable.

    Comment by jwb – September 26, 2013 07:41 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Love the show, Michael J. Fox was awesomeness personified. How to watch it and recorded Glee. Way to go Michael your a wonderful actor.

    Comment by Patricia – September 26, 2013 07:45 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I liked the first episode but thought the second episode was pretty bad. So many tired predictable sitcom plots.

    Good cast, pretty funny, well-paced, but I hope future episodes are much more original.

    Comment by Oliver – September 26, 2013 07:58 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I loved the pilot, but I thought the second episode wasn’t a great one to air second. It made you dislike him a bit and the ‘hot neighbour’ is a pretty tired trope. Maybe if it aired midway through the season it would be fine, but as a second episode where you’re still trying to get people to watch……risky. That said, I’ll be tuning in for the season.

    Comment by liz – September 26, 2013 08:55 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • The hot neighbor is his real life wife? I thought they were both great. I’m proud of him and the job he did.

      Comment by JAVT LOPEZ – September 27, 2013 03:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I loved it. I’ll watch Michael J. Fox in anything, but given my fondness for single-cam sitcoms, especially those set around families or that have a lot of heart, I’m so glad he chose this as his major return to TV. I hope NBC has a hit in this one. I’m in it for as long as the Peacock chooses to air it.

    Comment by Eric – September 26, 2013 09:21 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Sheer boredom…couldn’t even get past 15 minutes of it….

    Comment by baddog – September 26, 2013 09:24 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Agree. We really tried to watch the whole thing, but at the 10 minute mark, I was ready to turn it off. We lasted for 30 minutes but that was all we could take. As much as we love Michael J, Fox, we did not find one thing funny and just detested the rest of the cast. Where did they find these people? The Parkinsons jokes were not funny and the whole concept was overplayed and made me very uncomfortable. He has Parkinsons. We get it!! We will not watch again, that’s for sure.

      Comment by Candy Boudreau – September 27, 2013 02:04 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I totally agree. In a one full hour I think I chuckled once or twice. Just not funny. At the other show “Crazy” something with Robin Williams was another boring 1/2 hr. New show called Moms and The Goldbergs was really funny, but these 2…not so much.

      Comment by shopqvc – September 27, 2013 04:30 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think it’ll get even better when it has time to develop. I could have done without the token crazy sister character, she reminded me too much of the sister from Still Standing. Laughed out loud quite a bit in the second episode. Loved the “Oops, Parkinsons” thing!

    Comment by Babybop – September 26, 2013 10:04 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I honestly thought this show was painfully boring and unfunny. God awful writing. I didn’t laugh once. I like Michael J Fox too which is why I watched it, but yikes was this bad… i also found the Parkinson jokes more offensive then funny which obviously is not what they were going for.

    Comment by Bob Timms – September 26, 2013 10:15 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • i liked it a lot, not the funniest show although it had it’s moments, it has a lot of heart to it, MJF most definitely still has it, i’m not sure about the office, modern family, parks and rec thing of talking to the camera, too many shows are doing that these days.

    Comment by James D – September 26, 2013 10:16 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Those 3 shows you listed are literally the only other comedies on television that do talking heads.

      Comment by Oliver – September 26, 2013 10:37 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Don’t you mean LIT-RUH-LY? Also, The Office is over.

        Comment by Zach – September 26, 2013 11:37 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Don’t remind me!! I haven’t got to the acceptance stage of grief yet.

          Comment by Eddie – September 26, 2013 11:57 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • I literally meant literally, and I meant those shows are literally the only US shows ever to rely on the conceit.

          Comment by Oliver – September 27, 2013 05:04 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
          • I think Zach was making a Parks and Rec joke…

            Comment by Babybop – September 27, 2013 09:15 AM PDT  
  • liked the pilot first episode better than 2nd episode

    Comment by Tristan John Wannet – September 26, 2013 10:32 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It’s all right. I graded it a B. I like it, but I think they’re hitting the Parkinson’s jokes a bit too hard. I also was very disappointed to see they’re following the incredibly overused fake documentary format. I hope they ditch that, and fast. But I think it could be a great comedy.

    Comment by Britta Unfiltered – September 26, 2013 10:37 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I like it, it was good. Great to see Michael back on TV. and the rest of the cast did good.

    Comment by Joey – September 26, 2013 10:37 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • what was the song at the end of the second episode. I need to know please.

    Comment by Jordan – September 26, 2013 11:48 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I want to know too!

      Comment by Robbie – October 10, 2013 05:42 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • absolutely loved it, my favorite new comedy of the season.

    Comment by Eli – September 27, 2013 01:33 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It usually takes a few shows to get the characters established, the writers sharpened, etc.

    Comment by Bob – September 27, 2013 05:36 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Great job at balancing humor/inspiration/reality. For example, those recurring “everybody loves you” could’ve gone either way, but they totally worked.

    Comment by tara17 – September 27, 2013 05:54 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Michael J. Fox, and the woman who plays his wife, did a good job. We couldn’t stand the rest of the cast -no original characters there.

    Comment by Susan – September 27, 2013 06:20 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I like the guy, but can’t say I was impressed with his show. It seemed like a cookie-cutter sitcom to me. Predictable jokes and script. There seems to be a really low success rate among sitcoms built around one celebrity lead. You need a strong ensemble cast to make the show a success (e.g., The Mary Tyler Moore show, Seinfeld, etc.). I didn’t get that feeling with this show.

    Comment by Tom – September 27, 2013 06:41 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • love MJF, but was disappointed with the show. Will give it another try, then move on to something else. It was very predictable.

    Comment by libby – September 27, 2013 08:08 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • We are avid Michael J. Fox fans and were so excited he was coming back to TV; however, his talent far exceeds this sitcom. We didn’t like the cut-away interviews at all. Since Tracy is in the series, we’d rather have seen her as his wife. We could hardly understand a word the kids spoke–even Michael’s enunciation was clearer. We all know the Parkinson’s is there, but give it a rest; an occasional wisecrack, and the rolling chair and dinner-roll incidents would have been sufficient. The aunt’s character seemed unnecessary. We liked the newsroom and the aspect of his job, but the family casting and his sexual insecurity just didn’t cut it for us. No one is sorrier than I am that I gave it a “D.”

    Comment by Lynda – September 27, 2013 12:31 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Gees, where do I start? I really like and respect MJF but he was mumbling and we couldn’t understand a word of at least 3 lines that he spoke in the kitchen scene. The role of his wife is so fake and their interactions are so put on, it was uncomfortable to watch them together. I mean, what woman is going to joke around and sweetly say…”oh come on honey, just be honest and tell me you’re attracted to her” (as the wife giggles). Any husband being attracted to a woman that looks like Tracy Pollan is NOT going to invite her over for dinner and joke about it….PERIOD. Tracy came on to him the moment she answered the door….completely unnatural and staged. They should have just left her out of the sitcom completely….it was just odd. I kept thinking of them as man and wife so her part was just, well….stupid. The wife role is too phony and untouched by any emotion. Michael looks as though he is just reading his lines. The aunt is unnecessary and the only actor I really enjoyed was the daughter. I thought her narration was cute and she seemed very talented. The bedroom scene in the end was just dumb. What are they….20? Who goes into a heavy make out scene after (at least) 15 years of marriage….like they couldn’t wait to have sex (especially after her husband was attracted to another woman all night)…anyway…just has too much of a soap opera feel…no way close to real life. I’d rather read a good book.

    Comment by amanda – September 27, 2013 01:31 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • As a caregiver for an advanced Parkinson’s patient, I found the show very disappointing. I know MJF wants the viewer to ‘view’ this horrific disease as comedic, but there is nothing funny about it. There were a few ‘insights’ into the disease in each of the two episodes I struggled through — such as the night ‘terrors’ not “dreams” as they were depicted in the show; the trailing off of the voice; running up the stairs, etc, but Parkinson’s is NOT a cookie cutter disease. Patients like my spouse do not have access to the medications that MJF uses; my spouse was not a candidate for deep brain stimulation therapy and does not have cognitive skills because of the dementia that is attached to this disease (Lewy bodies). I found the ‘running up the stairs’ in one of the episodes needed some explanation; the reference to Dyskenesia while he was in the t.v. van, was never explained. Some Parkinson’s patients and I say “some” can run backwards, but CANNOT walk forward. Some have obsessive compulsive disorders (lightly touched on), but none of these were truly explained. Some have horrific side effects to their medsl never explained. I would have preferred a more realistic approach to this disease from MJF. Most medical personnel have NO clue about this disease and I was truly hoping that this show would enlighten rather than put a twist that it is a.o.k. I would have much preferred a documentary about the disease either hosted by Michael J. Fox or showing a ‘true day in the life of a Parkinson patient such as Michael J. Fox and others and his/her caregivers so that people would have a better understanding of this disease. I love MJF and he has tried to help us a lot through the Michael J. Fox foundation, but he really missed the mark here. :(

    Comment by KM Ols – September 27, 2013 04:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This was bad! It was so unfunny. What I am laughing at is the critics that swear this is the best show since sliced bread, but stay away from Dads. Well, hate to tell them-they are both equally unfunny. Sorry, MJF love ya-but unless you replace the whole cast-this isn’t going to work.

    Comment by patjs – September 27, 2013 05:54 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Gotta agree with you. Critics hate Dads, but so far, I found that really funny. Not so with MJF.

      Comment by MK – October 4, 2013 06:14 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I love Michael J. Fox and I’ve missed seeing him on tv. So I’m willing to give this sitcom another chance but it’s not must-see tv. Cut out the documentary-style, make the children likable, and get rid of Tracy.

    Comment by Mary – September 29, 2013 09:55 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I guess I have to give it another chance. First episode was dull. Second I did other things. Third haven’t watched yet. So we’ll see.

    Comment by MK – October 4, 2013 06:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I absolutely LOVE Michael J. Fox, but I won’t be watching any more episodes of this show. I was so disappointed by how unfunny it was. I think the only thing that ever got a laugh from me was the oldest son. It’s alright though, The Crazy Ones is hilarious!

    Comment by alyssa – October 5, 2013 12:13 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Love the new show…

    We all missed u micheal..

    Comment by patricia – October 5, 2013 08:55 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Love Michael. Always will!!!

    Comment by Ethany – October 24, 2013 10:36 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

Leave a Reply

Comments on TVLine.com are monitored. So don't go off topic, don't frakkin' curse, and be gone with your offers of discount leather goods. Talk smart about TV!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s