You know that a network has stopped taking risks when they start billing Michael J. Fox as their biggest, buzziest star. Yes, the artist formerly known as Alex P. Keaton (and currently know as an Emmy-magnet guest star) will return to NBC this fall, right back where he started with Family Ties, to star in his new sitcom, The Michael J. Fox Show, which kicks off a whole new family-themed Thursday night. That means no more witty, career-minded single ladies and cult-movie-referencing twentysomethings on Must-See TV. (Parks and Recreation is still around, but it’s been moved to the 8:00 PM sudden-death time slot, opposite The Big Bang Theory.) Instead, we get Fox, alongside the blended-family comedy Welcome to the Family, and Sean Hayes starring as a divorced gay dad on Sean Saves the World, all capped off with an hour of Parenthood. Aiming squarely down the middle of American brows this year, NBC is also bringing back some recognizable faces from decades past (Fox! Blair Underwood for Ironside! James Spader for The Blacklist!), along with a certain brand of comedy that hasn’t changed much since that time. You want jokes about parents tricking their kids into eating vegetables? You’ve got it! You want something a little edgier? Go watch AMC.
THE MICHAEL J FOX SHOW
The good news? Michael J. Fox’s new show comes from writer/executive producer Sam Laybourne (Cougar Town) and co-stars the great Betsy Brandt, who brings such sad and funny suffering-wife pathos to the role of Marie on Breaking Bad. The bad news? Despite the fact that it was inspired by Fox’s real-life battle with Parkinson’s, it looks like any other bland, what-is-this-family-coming-to-if-we-can’t-sit-down-to-eat-dinner-together? comedy, and the teaser clip just isn’t that funny. Be warned: there will be kale jokes.