TV Zone readers are getting a quick road map of some of Thursday night's major launches, and the biggest of them all — "The Michael J. Fox Show." This two-parter (WNBC/4, 9) introduces Fox's character as a former New York TV anchorman, now a manny, who is lured back to work; second half-hour features his upstairs neighbor, who just happens to be his real-life spouse, Tracy Pollan.
Newsday's critic wasn't wild about this opener — a brief outtake below — but I'm also hopeful my mind will be changed later on this season (and this show is going nowhere — NBC has a full order in place.) Fox is a TV treasure, and his skills — as evident tonight — remain very much intact.
Also, not to be overlooked — Fox has had a steady presence on TV for some years, from "Rescue Me" to "The Good Wife." It's not as though he's been invisible all these years. And while my review was lukewarm, don't take my word for it. Watch yourself. Form your own opinion (and a few other critics loved this.)
Few shows ever arrive with as much goodwill as this one. Even TV critics with desiccated hearts want to see a beloved star with Parkinson's return in triumph. Over a stretch in the '80s, Fox gave more viewers more pleasure than just about anyone else on TV, with the exception of Bill Cosby, so now in the hour of his need, they'll probably want to return the favor. That's human nature. But TV comedy is all about what-have-you-done-for-me-lately. Thanks for the memories — now make me laugh. Instead, too cloying, too sentimental, too heavy on the NBC News tie-ins — as clumsily handled as they possibly could be -- "Fox" doesn't merely squander the goodwill but may go as far as reminding some hardened viewers what bugged them about most network TV comedies in the first place. "Fox" isn't an unredeemable flop. Get past the mawkishness (if you can) and there's a sweetness here, and geniality. "The Michael J. Fox Show" needs to be much more, but love is hard to shake. Fox and his reputation will survive this. Maybe the show, too.
(App readers go to newsday.com/tvzone for the clips.)