Fall TV preview: First impressions of ‘The Michael J. Fox Show’

Michael J. FoxNow that we’ve chronicled all of the actual shows coming up this year as a part of our Fall TV Preview series, we’re moving on to what we like to consider the next step: Reviewing some of the full pilots that we’ve had a chance to watch. These will be spoiler-free, and based more on overall impressions than individual plot points. (We’ll handle some of that stuff when new episodes actually air in the fall.)

Given that one of the first shows that we ever talked about on the page for the new season was “The Michael J. Fox Show,” it only seems appropriate to kick off the analysis with this show. This is a series that NBC put a great deal of stock in early on as a potential success, giving it a full 22 episodes before even seeing a pilot. It marks a reunion of sorts between network and star, and for that reason we do understand the hype.

So is this show as promising as it looks right now? The simple answer is yes; there’s a lot to be excited about here. Fox is as likable as always playing a character named Mike, who is returning to New York City as an anchor after going through a battle with Parkinson’s Disease. It’s obviously subject matter that the star cares about, and it shows in just about every scene. Is there perhaps a little too much emphasis on the disease in this episode? Sure, but it never feels sappy, and instead mocks the notion of this being a death sentence or a sob story (which is much appreciated). We’re sure that the themes surrounding it will be somewhat minimized as the series progresses, as this is the sort of thing you go a little crazy with straight out of the gate to sell the premise.

Overall, the cast is pretty outstanding; the kids are likable, engaging, and different enough from each other to work, and Betsy Brandt makes a great transition from “Breaking Bad” as his wife. It’s not the funniest pilot of the fall, but we do in a way appreciate the emphasis here on telling the story and allowing the jokes come in naturally.

So if we had to give a recommendation now for “The Michael J. Fox Show,” we’d say it’s a must-watch. If you love the actor’s body of work, and want to have a family sitcom that is not told like a documentary, this is probably your way to go.

Want to read more news from our Fall TV Preview series? If so, our suggestion is to just head on over to the link here.

Photo: NBC

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