It is a laughing matter: When Michael J. Fox abruptly left his starring role on ABC’s Spin City in 2000, the world was shocked to find out that the actor was suffering from a degenerative brain disorder.
So what better way to mark his return, over a decade later, than with a comedy about a family man with Parkinson’s?
NBC announced today that it has ordered 22 episodes of Mr. Fox’s new show, which stars the actor as a family man who struggles with his wife, and three children to keep their heads above water in the sink-or-swim environment of New York City.
It’s not a reality show, though Mr. Fox’s character will be living with Parkinson’s Disease. The yet-to-be-shot series, co-created and executive produced by Easy A director Will Gluck and Arrested Development writer Sam Laybourne, was the subject of a vicious bidding war last week, Vulture reported.
NBC’s win can be seen as something of a triumph, since Mr. Fox began his career on the network’s Family Ties in 1982. NBC’s Chairman of Entertainment Robert Greenblatt said he was thrilled to have Mr. Fox back in the fold:
To bring Michael J. Fox back to NBC is a supreme honor and we are thrilled that one of the great comedic television stars is coming home again. From the moment we met with Michael to hear his unique point of view about this new show, we were completely captivated and on board. He is utterly relatable, optimistic, and in a class by himself, and I have no doubt that the character he will create – and the vivid family characters surrounding him – will be both instantly recognizable and hilarious. Being in business with him is a supreme pleasure.
Mr. Fox also released a statement expressing his eagerness to get in front of the camera again, saying “I’m extremely pleased to be back at NBC with a great creative team and a great show. Bob Greenblatt and all the folks at the network have given me a warm welcome home, and I’m excited to get to work.”
Not everyone has such a positive diagnosis for the show. Forbes‘ Dorothy Pomerantz notes that Mr. Fox fading star power might not be enough to attract the crucial 18-25 demo, who are too young to remember Family Ties.
What Ms. Pomerantz fails to take into account, of course, is the infinite nostalgia power of Back to the Future, as well as that particular demographic’s attraction to dark comedy: it’s hard to imagine that Mr. Fox’s new program as saccharine-sweet…though without a script, or actually anything besides a bare-bones outline for the untitled program, we wouldn’t be placing bets quiet yet.