As an ’80s baby, Michael J. Fox is one of my major pop culture touchstones. “Family Ties” was required viewing on Thursday nights, and “Back To The Future” is still one of my five favorite movies of all time. While I don’t recall having seen an MJF movie made after 1990, I’ve stuck with him through his television career. I loved “Spin City.” The only episodes I’ve watched on “Rescue Me” featured him as a guest character, and the same goes for “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Just thinking about the phrase “Michael J. Fucked Up” makes me laugh.
Following MJF’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, and his departure from “Spin City” back in 2000, I (like many others) assumed that he would never return to series television. I am very happy to be proven wrong. Just the fact that Mike has returned to television, leading “The Michael J. Fox Show,” is heartwarming. The fact that the show is funny is icing on the cake.
On the show, Fox plays Mike Henry. The character is a New York newscaster who’s retired after a Parkinson’s diagnosis (sound familiar?) to spend time with his family. A few years after leaving, he is asked to come back. From there, it’s a fairly traditional family/workplace sitcom. The show boasts an excellent supporting cast, with Betsy Brandt as Mike’s charming wife, Wendell Pierce (of Treme) as Harris, Mike’s boss, and a trio of talented kids, led by baby Dave Matthews lookalike Conor Romero as eldest son Ian.
Even after the warm fuzzies of seeing Fox back on screen have dissipated, the fact of the matter is that the man is still hilarious, and as he’s done for over thirty years, his humor is quite understated. His timing is still razor sharp, and Parkinson’s is not presented as a sob story, just another part of day to day life that has to be dealt with. No different than having three kids or having your Us Magazine-employed sister (watch out for Katie Finneran in this role, she’s gonna steal a LOT of scenes) living in your building’s basement.
Yeah, I know. I’m a relic. I still prefer sitcoms to the Walking Deads and True Bloods and Breaking Bads (combined viewing by me of all three shows-1 episode.) However, my TV watching is generally to provide an escape and a laugh, and even after all these years, not many people do it better than Michael J. Fox. Welcome back, sir.
The Michael J. Fox show airs on NBC, Thursdays at 9:30 PM.