I’m not watching many new TV shows this fall. First of all, nothing has really caught my eye. Second of all, a lot of my regular shows got cancelled or are ending (Dexter, Breaking Bad, Happy Endings, The Office…) and I’m a little relieved to have a less demanding TV watching schedule this year. I’ve never been a person who can miss an episode of a show I follow, or quit watching a series when I no longer enjoy it. I’m an all-in, bitter-ender kind of pop culture consumer. It’s a curse, really.
But I decided to give The Michael J. Fox Show a try. I like Fox, and I enjoy Betsy Brandt – it’s nice to see her on TV playing a less tragic role than Marie in Breaking Bad. Two episodes of the show aired on NBC this week.
The premise of the show is that Michael J. Fox playing Mike, a beloved local news anchor in New York, retired after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Now he’s returning to his job after a five year hiatus. He has a wife, an annoying sister, and three children. A colleague is played by one of my favorite actors, Wendall Pierce – a.k.a. Bunk from The Wire.
So far I’m not sold on the show, but you can tell very little from comedy pilots and I think there’s potential. I’ll watch at least two or three more episodes to see how things go. The episodes focused more on the main character’s home life, and his children’s lives.
In the pilot, I thought the show had a problem with pacing. Everything moved too fast, jokes barely landed, and too much was introduced about each character. There was a storyline involving Mike’s teenage daughter Eve and a school project that dragged down the episode for me.
In the second episode, writing was a problem. Mike met a new, attractive upstairs neighbor and had a crush, but wouldn’t admit it. He went on to behave so irrationally and childlike, you wondered why his wife would put up with him. The storyline was such a trope, and the character’s actions were completely ridiculous. And like the pilot, I didn’t care at all about the storylines featuring Mike’s kids or sister.
I also felt the show relied too heavily on jokes about Mike’s Parkinson’s disease. Some of them were funny, but it makes you wonder if the show can keep it up. I like the chemistry between Michael J. Fox and Betsy Brandt though, and Wendall Pierce had some funny moments as well. I’ll keep watching, and check back in on the blog in a few weeks to let you know what I think.