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‘Michael J. Fox Show’: Clever New Concept or Back to the Future?

The premise is clever, Michael J. Fox is cute, Parkinson’s is a pain, and that’s about all you need to know about NBC’s new “Michael J. Fox” show. Unfortunately, NBC made the horrible mistake of showing us all the funny parts in the wall-to-wall advertising they’ve subjected football fans to over the last four weeks. Every laugh amounted to “Haha so that's how this fits into the narrative now that I've seen it 100 times.”

That’s not to say my high hopes were dashed. I’ve been excited about this show for a while. It’s as if it were my density. And fortunately, the execs decided to give us a one-hour premiere, which means we got a whole other half-hour episode that let us get past the standard awkward pilot. Honestly, even the good pilots are as awkward as a nerdy high school boy asking his crush to the Enchantment Under the Sea dance.

I like that Michael (both the J. Fox and the Henry variety) aren’t trying to hide their disease. They tackled Parkinsons in a way that won’t leave anyone saying “This is heavy!” J. Fox pokes gentle fun at it and himself, and Henry has a positive, optimistic spin on life and 1.21 jigawatts of energy despite his disability. He’s quirky, likeable, and fun. I liked that he pushed for sit-down family dinners. 

The show still needs to find its groove. A couple of characters haven’t quite dropped into their roles, and I hope they drop the obnoxious “documentary one-on-one” interview trope so popular on television right now. The dialogue barrels along faster than 88 miles an hour, and some of the lines had me yelling “Hello?! McFly?! Anybody home?! That joke is old and stale!” at my screen. Some of the themes, too, felt well-worn, despite the Parkinson's angle.

But Great Scott! 30 seconds into the second episode we get “LGBT tolerance” thrown at us, complete with a snide slam at Chick-Fil-A. And while it’s not exactly driving your hotrod into a manure truck, the show’s not squeaky clean.

Nevertheless, let me give you a nickel’s worth of free advice: watch the show. It made me want to call up my family and be like: “Chuck! Chuck! It’s your cousin Cody! You know that new show you’re looking for, well watch this!”  If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits its stride, you’re going to see some serious…