Thursday, September 26, 2013
NBC Fall Pilot Review: The Michael J. Fox Show - Premieres Tonight; Season Two of NickMom Night Out, Instant Mom Premieres Sunday
The Michael J. Fox Show - Thursdays at 9:30PM ET/PT on NBC
Premieres Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 9:00PM and 9:30PM ET/PT
Look who's making the news again. One of NY's most beloved news anchors, Mike Henry (Michael J. Fox, Spin City, Family Ties), put his career on hold to spend more time with his family and focus on his health after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's. But now five years later, with the kids busy growing up and Mike growing restless, it just might be time for him to get back to work. Having never wanted Mike to leave in the first place, his old boss Harris Green (Wendell Pierce, Treme, The Wire) jumped at the chance to get him back on TV. The trick, as it's always been, was to make Mike think it was his idea. After several - okay, many - failed attempts, Mike's family, anxious to see him out of the house, finally succeeded in getting him to "run into" Green. Now their plan is in motion. He'll be back to juggling home, family and career, just like the old days - only better.
Betsy Brandt as Annie Henry
Conor Romero as Ian Henry
Juliette Goglia as Eve Henry
Jack Gore as Graham Henry
Katie Finneran as Leigh Henry
Wendell Pierce as Harris Green
Ana Nogueria as Kay Costa
Michael J. Fox (Mike Henry) won three Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award for his role as Alex P. Keaton in Family Ties. He returned to television in 1996 as Mike Flaherty in Spin City where he earned an Emmy Award and three Golden Globe Awards. His many film credits include the Back to the Future trilogy, The Hard Way, Doc Hollywood, The Secret of My Success, Bright Lights, Big City, Light of Day, Teen Wolf, Casualties of War, Life with Mikey, For Love or Money, The American President, Greedy, The Frighteners and Mars Attacks!
Betsy Brandt (Annie Henry) is best known for her role as Marie Schrader in Breaking Bad. Her television credits include Private Practice, Boston Legal, CSI, NCIS, Parenthood, ER, Fairly Legal and Without a Trace.
Conor Romero (Ian Henry) has guest starred in Person of Interest. His film credits include The Cake Eaters, American Gangster and Rivers Wash Over Me.
Juliette Goglia (Eve Henry) is best known for portraying Sierra in That's So Raven and Hannah West in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Her other television credits include Joan of Arcadia, Two and a Half Men, Vanished, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, Shake It Up and Good Luck Charlie.
Jack Gore (Graham Henry) has guest starred in 30 Rock and appeared in the film We Are What We Are.
Katie Finneran (Leigh Henry) recently co-starred in I Hate My Teenage Daughter. Her other television credits include Wonderfalls, The Inside, Bram and Alice, Frasier, Sex and the City and Oz.
Wendell Pierce (Harris Green) is best known for his portrayal of Det. Bunk Moreland on five critically acclaimed seasons of The Wire.. He played trombonist Antoine Batiste in Treme. His other television credits include The Weber Show, The Gregory Hines Show, Maloney, The Brian Benben Show, Num3rs, Law & Order, Third Watch, New York Undercover and I'll Fly Away.
Ana Nogueria (Kay Costa) has appeared in television shows such as The Battery's Down, Baby Daddy and Blue Bloods.
"Pilot" (airs Thursday, September 26 at 9:00PM ET/PT)
After battling Parkinson's disease, New York newsman Mike Henry is ready to return to work.
In the pilot episode, we meet Mike Henry and his family. His daughter, Eve, records her father and other family members describing him for her school project. Mike cooks dinner for his family, but they have other plans. Annie leaves for work and asks Mike to take the kids to school. Mike is recognized by several people on the street and happens to run into his former boss and news director Harris Green. Harris tells him he should come back to work. Mike and Annie talk about him going back to work. The next day they are scheduled to receive a dishwasher. After his medicine doesn't kick in, Mike accidentally dials 911. The cops respond to the call 45 minutes later.
Later that night, Mike makes an announcement to the family that he's thinking about going back to work. The next day Harris walks Mike into an exploratory meeting where he meets Kay, a segment producer. Mike also runs into Matt Lauer and views a promo of him returning to the TV station. Meanwhile, Eve's video of her father is shown in the classroom, but the teacher doesn't care for it. Eve tells Ian that her teacher failed her on the school project because he thinks she's a phony. Mike later tells Annie that he is back in. He covers a few news stories, including talking to a councilman and a fire. Harris tells Mike that the Today show wants Mike to introduce his story about the 911 scandal on the Today Show. Mike's story is interrupted by some breaking news, however. Harris and Annie then talk about how their plan of having Harris run into Mike worked. The episode concludes with a nice family moment.
"Neigbhor" (airs Thursday, September 26 at 9:30PM ET/PT)
At Annie's request, Mike confronts a noisy (and attractive) upstairs neighbor (guest star Tracy Pollan), who seems to develop a bit of a crush on him. Though Annie thinks it's cute, Mike refuses to admit he enjoys the added attention. To Eve's chagrin, Ian tries to court her new friend from school. After enjoying the perks of being mistaken for a single mom during a day out with Graham, Leigh considers letting the ruse play out a little longer.
Michael J. Fox makes his return to NBC in this single-camera comedy. He will also serve as an executive producer with Sam Laybourne and Will Gluck. The show is produced by Sony Pictures Television and Olive Bridge Entertainment. The Michael J. Fox show was the first new sitcom to be scheduled for the 2013-14 season. It received a straight-to-series order for a full season of 22 episodes in August 2012. The series also stars Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad), Conor Romero (American Gangster), Juliette Goglia (Easy A), Jack Gore and Katie Finneran (I Hate My Teenage Daughter).
The pilot episode introduces us to Mike Henry and his family. Their daughter, Eve, has a school project and uses her phone camera to record the family members describing their father. Annie arranges for Mike's former news director and boss Harris Green to run into Mike on the street. Mike eventually accepts the offer to return to the TV station. Overall, it's a decent pilot that provides the necessary premise of the show and introduction to the characters. The chemistry between the family members isn't really there yet. Although it has some heartwarming family moments, there really aren't many laugh-out-loud lines or scenes. There are quite a few jokes and references to Parkinson's disease. They aren't done in a mean way. They just show how one person accepts and deals with the disease. There were far fewer references to Parkinson's in the other episodes available for review.
In the second episode airing tonight, Neighbor, a noisy upstairs neighbor causes a conflict between Mike and Annie. Michael J. Fox's real life wife Tracy Pollan guest stars as Kelly. There's an instant spark between them that reminds me of when they first met on Family Ties. Fox and Brandt just seem to lack the same kind of chemistry as a married couple in the first couple of episodes. Maybe that is something they can develop as they work together more. The secondary story involves Eve inviting her new friend Reese from school who she thinks may be a lesbian. Ian tries to court her without much success. The third storyline has Leigh taking Graham to a park to talk to other moms for a story she is writing for Us Weekly. This episode focuses more on Mike's family life. There is just one scene at the newsroom. The scenes with Tracy Pollan are the highlight of the episode. There are some funny moments in the second episode, but the show still has more room to grow.
They've assembled a nice cast. Other than Michael J. Fox, Wendell Pierce and Katie Finneran, the cast lacks many television comedy credits. Michael J. Fox still has it. He has always had a gift of comedy. Parkinson's has just sadly slowed him down in recent years, but he appears re-energized here. Fans may be disappointed he's not appearing as a character like Alex P. Keaton or Mike Flaherty, but he's playing another very likable character and a good family man. Betsy Brandt was a bit of a surprise choice to play Annie because she's mostly known for her work in dramas. Wendell Pierce plays a very funny character. He's a bit underused in the first few episodes. I would like to see more scenes at the newsroom with him. Juliette Goglia is the standout among the actors playing the children. She shows some good comedic and dramatic skills. Katie Finneran is a fine actress, but I find her character to be a bit annoying and unnecessary. In other casting news, Anne Heche is set to appear in an upcoming multi-episode arc as Mike's nemesis and the new anchor at the TV station, Susan Rodriguez-Jones. Candice Bergen and Charles Grodin are also scheduled to appear as Mike's parents as guest stars and potentially in recurring roles.
The Michael J. Fox Show will premiere with back-to-back episodes tonight before moving to its regular timeslot of 9:30pm next week. They have a decent pilot, but it might take a few more episodes to hook viewers in regularly. There are a number of references and jokes about Parkinson's disease in the premiere, but that will be toned down. The focus of the series is a man dealing with Parkinson's and not the disease itself. NBC gave them a full 22-episode order, so they will have time to improve the show and build an audience. I think they should put more focus on the newsroom comedy, but they could still work in his family life and connect the stories together. The family situations and interactions aren't very unique or groundbreaking.
NBC has totally revamped their Thursday night lineup with family comedies and the drama Parenthood. They have pinned much of their hopes on this sitcom as their crown jewel of the bunch. I'm a big fan of Michael J. Fox from his Family Ties and Spin City days. Julia Louis-Dreyfus recently became the first actor or actress to win lead or supporting comedy acting Emmys for three different shows. It would great to see him match that record at this time next year. He's such a wonderful actor and man who is easy to root for. It will be a treat to see him again on a weekly basis. Welcome home to NBC, Michael.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):
Discuss the show after you watch it on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 9:00PM and 9:30PM ET/PT on our message board.
Buckle up for more belly laughs as NickMom premieres the second season of the stand-up comedy series, NickMom Night Out, on Monday, Oct. 14, at 10 pm (all times ET/PT). Hosted by Sherri Shepherd (The View) and taped in front of a live studio audience in New York City, the series features stand-up comedians putting a spotlight on the chaos and hilarity that comes with being a parent. Previous NickMom Night Out hosts include Tisha Campbell-Martin (LA), Judy Gold (NY), Caroline Rhea (Orlando, Fla.), and Bonnie McFarlane (Chicago). NickMom Night Out is executive produced by Bob Mittenthal (Double Dare), co-executive produced by Brian Baldinger and Jim Burns (co-creator MTV Unplugged) serves as consulting producer. NickMom Night Out season two launches with a premiere week (Mon, Oct. 14 - Saturday, Oct. 19, at 10 pm), followed by weekly premieres every Saturday Oct. 26 - Nov. 30, at 10 pm. And as a reminder, Instant Mom, the new original live-action family sitcom starring and produced by Tia Mowry-Hardrict (Sister Sister, Tia & Tamera), will join the NickMom lineup on Sunday (Sept. 29) at 10 pm (ET/PT). The multi-camera, scripted half-hour series features Mowry-Hardrict as Stephanie, a party girl who trades in Cosmos for carpools when she marries Charlie (Michael Boatman, Spin City), who already has three kids. Sheryl Lee Ralph (Moesha) stars as Stephanie's mother Maggie, and rounding out the cast are Charlie's three kids played by Sydney Park (CSI: NY), Tylen Williams and Damarr Calhoun. Instant Mom will premiere first on Sundays at 8:30 p.m. on Nick at Nite. Additionally, new seasons of talk/variety show Parental Discretion with Stefanie Wilder-Taylor and docu-comedy Take Me To Your Mother starring Andrea Rosen will roll out in 2014.
New on DVD/Blu-ray (March/April)
03/03 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - Now... In Living Color! (Blu-ray)
03/07 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Second Season
03/07 - Mama's Family - Mama's Favorites
03/07 - That '70s Show - The Complete Series - Flashback Edition (Blu-ray)
03/07 - What I Like About You - The Complete Second Season
03/07 - You Me Her - Season One
03/14 - Newhart - The Final (Eighth) Season
03/14 - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Season Two
03/21 - Master of None - Season One
04/04 - Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season
04/11 - Father Knows Best - Season Five
04/11 - Schitt's Creek - The Complete Third Season
04/11 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
04/11 - Veep - The Complete Fifth Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest
Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Sunday, April 30
Bob's Burgers - "Like Gene for Chocolate" (Fox, 7:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Gene learns that the formula for his favorite chocolate has changed, he works with the head of the company in an attempt to remedy the situation. Meanwhile, Bob gets wrapped up in one of Teddy’s less-than-perfect plans.
Bob's Burgers - "Thelma & Louise Except Thelma Is Linda" (Fox, 7:30PM ET/PT)
After Louise gets in trouble at school, Linda is forced to meet with Mr. Frond (guest voice David Herman) and potentially could lose her hard-earned position as the Wagstaff bake sale leader. When she finds out that her daughter was actually trying to help another student, Linda is torn between following school policy or her own moral code.
The Simpsons - "Looking for Mr. Goodbart" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Bart gets in trouble on Grandparents Day at school and is forced to hang out with Skinner’s mother as punishment. After spending time with various grandmas in the neighborhood, he learns the benefits of hanging out with the elderly, but eventually recognizes the dangers of taking advantage of them. Meanwhile, Peekimon Get has taken over the town of Springfield.
Making History - "Night Cream" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
With the ever-present threat of losing tenure looming over him, Chris reaches out to John Hancock and Samuel Adams to help spice things up in the classroom in 2017. Meanwhile, Deb's dream of re-opening Chadwick's ice cream parlor is finally coming to fruition, but Dan has a few marketing ideas of his own.
Family Guy - "The Peter Principal" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Peter becomes the temporary principal at the high school, and Meg uses his new power to get even with her bullies. Meanwhile, Brian and Stewie open a bed & breakfast that quickly turns into a brothel.
The Last Man on Earth - "The Big Day" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Tandy and Gail face off in a major disagreement, on which the whole group must weigh in, and Carol is forced to choose a side. Meanwhile, Melissa, Todd and Erica each have major milestone moments.
Sunday, April 30
- NeNe Leakes (The New Normal) - Catch NeNe on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
- Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) - Watch Chris on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He will also be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am and LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- America Ferrera (Superstore) - America drops by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Ike Barinholtz (The Mindy Project) - Ike appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Joel McHale (The Great Indoors/Community) - Joel is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Jake Johnson (New Girl) - Jake visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Hank Azaria (Brockmire/The Simpsons/Free Agents) - Hank stops by Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
- Al Madrigal (About a Boy/Welcome to the Captain/Gary Unmarried) - Al appears on Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
- Kevin Nealon (Man with a Plan/Weeds/Hiller and Diller/Champs) - Kevin is a guest on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Ashton Kutcher (The Ranch/Two and a Half Men/That '70s Show) - Ashton appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
- Allison Janney (Mom/Mr. Sunshine) - Allison teams up with Mario Batali to make a cheesy, decadent Gnocchi Al Telefono and dishes about her new Broadway show on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
- Charlie Hunnam (Undeclared) - Charlie will be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am. He will also be on the AOL Build Show at 11:15am.
- Nick Robinson (Melissa & Joey) - Nick talks about his new film Everything, Everything on the AOL Build Show at 1pm.
- Jodie Sweetin (Hollywood Darlings/Fuller House/Full House) - Jodie is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.