I watched the premiere of the Michael J. Fox Show last night – it was a mixed bag.
Michael J. Fox has done something extraordinary – he’s embraced his illness and made it a core component of his character without allowing it to dominate the entire show, much as he hasn’t allowed Parkinson’s to dominate his real life. He’s not Michael J. Fox the Parkinson’s Sufferer, he’s just an actor that happens to have Parkinson’s in the same way he happens to have blue eyes or knows how to travel in time while wearing a puffy vest.
The problem is the show just isn’t doing it for me. I wanted to like his new show – I really did. He’s one of my favorite actors and I’ve missed seeing him on movies and television. There’s just nothing new here when it comes to situation comedy.
The best part of the show is definitely Fox’s performance as a New York City network news anchor that returns to work after a long absence to get his Parkinson’s under control. He’s witty, self-effacing, unapologetic about his condition without relying on it as a crutch, and utterly charming. While the writing reinforces the idea that people with Parkinson’s are more than their illness, it really doesn’t do much more than that; it’s pedestrian, slice-of-life stuff, doesn’t break new ground, and simply doesn’t hold much entertainment value besides background noise. It’s inoffensively boring, and it will probably be on the air for years.