Pilot Perception: The Michael J. Fox Show

Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.

The Show: The Michael J. Fox Show, NBC in the U.S. on Thursdays at 9:30/8:30c and GlobalTV in Canada on Wednesdays at 9/8c

The Pedigree: The show was written and created by Will Gluck (Easy A) and Sam Laybourne (Cougar Town), who executive produce along with Alex Reid (The Middle) and Fox himself.

The Cast & How You Know Them: Along with Michael J. Fox (Spin City), the show stars Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad), Conor Romero (Person of Interest), Juliette Goglia (Easy A), Jack Gore (We Are What We Are), Katie Finneran (I Hate My Teenage Daughter), Wendell Pierce (Treme), and Ana Nogueira (The Battery’s Down).

The Premise: News anchor Mike Henry retired to take care of his health and spend time with his family after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, but five years later, he’s bored and decides to try going back to work.

A Taste:

What Works: This show is definitely trying to be heartwarming, and it mostly succeeds, while being gently funny at the same time. I wasn’t sure if they’d be able to pull off the Parkinson’s jokes without being offensive or seeming exploitative, but they did better with that than I expected. Mike and Annie made for a believable, likeable couple, and I actually really liked all three kids in the family, which is rare.

What Doesn’t: Overall, I thought this was fine, but it didn’t really grab me the way I’d hoped. I don’t tend to like the confessional camera device in sitcoms, and this is no exception. That combined with some of the jokes about Mike’s NBC comeback made the whole thing just a little too meta and self-aware for me. The Parkinson’s jokes will get old quickly if they’re the main focus, so the show will have to diversify and keep that as one of several elements. (NBC aired the second episode right after the pilot, and its plotlines had little to do with Mike’s disease, so that bodes well.)

Our Favorite Line: “Wait, to get to your search engine, I have to use another search engine?”

You Might Like This if you like comedies that go back and forth between the family home and the workplace, like Up All Night. Or, of course, if you’re already a fan of Michael J. Fox, you should definitely try this.

If You’re Interested: NBC is reairing the first two episodes tomorrow, Friday, September 27th, at 8/7c. Or watch on their site, Hulu, or GlobalTV.

(Photo courtesy of NBC.)

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