Like the publicity leading up to the show these past few months has suggested, The Michael J. Fox Show is a semi-autobiographical account of Fox’s life as a television star, husband and father coping with Parkinson’s Disease. The pilot episode explains that his character, Mike Henry, has been a stay-at-home dad since leaving his position as a news anchor five years earlier. Mike’s family, while certainly appreciative of his household contributions, recognizes that he needs to find another outlet in which to invest his energy. Therefore, when, following what he believes is a chance meeting with a former colleague, Mike tells his family he is considering returning to his job, they are all clear in expressing it is something he needs to do, despite his fears that his condition will hinder his success. And so, Mike decides to give broadcasting another chance.
Because the show airs on NBC, Mike is of course affiliated with the network, allowing for fun meta references and cameos à la 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live. One of Fox’s funniest bits in the pilot involves his character describing a rivalry with Matt Lauer, which his wife, played by Breaking Bad‘s Betsy Brandt, then explains is actually “one-sided.”
The rest of the plot centers around Mike’s family, played by a strong ensemble. The casting directors did an excellent job of finding actors that are believable as Michael J. Fox’s wife and children and can hold their own opposite him onscreen. It’s clear from any interview how close Fox is with his family (his wife, Tracy, even appears in the second episode) and the series really captures that dynamic.
The Michael J. Fox Show has a great foundation and I look forward to seeing how it evolves. I think a lot of fans are rooting for Fox and the series and I’m certain he will continue to entertain and surprise us.
The Michael J. Fox Show airs Thursdays at 9:30 PM on NBC.