What went wrong with “The Michael J. Fox Show”? The comedy, which represented Fox’s return to a leading role on television for the first time since he left “Spin City” to focus on his battle with Parkinson’s disease, was considered such a strong prospect for NBC that it was given a straight 22-episode order by the network, with no pilot. But the series never attracted a solid audience, and last night Vulture broke the news that it had been pulled from NBC’s schedule post-Olympics and replaced with “Hollywood Game Night.”
This effectively means “The Michael J. Fox Show” is canceled, though NBC said it was looking for a place for the series on the schedule after April 3, so the remaining seven episodes may still air — one of them featuring a guest appearance from Fox’s “Back to the Future” co-star Christopher Lloyd. The network also recently shut down production on “Sean Saves the World,” from fellow sitcom vet Sean Hayes.
I liked the first few episodes of “The Michael J. Fox Show,” which was created by Will Gluck (“Easy A”) and Sam Laybourne and had Fox playing himself, pretty much, as Mike Henry, a beloved New York news anchor with Parkinson’s who decides to return to work after retiring several years earlier. The series was warm and funny without sentimentalizing the struggles of its main character, and had a strong cast, including “Breaking Bad” alum Betsy Brandt as Mike’s wife and Wendell Pierce of “Treme” as his boss and friend. But it also felt unformed aside from its Fox storylines, not to mention a lot like a “Modern Family” knock-off. While it was far from a bad show, that fuzziness seems to have cost it a devoted following.
Fox’s return to a small screen leading role may not have worked out in this iteration, but he’s not the only comedy star returning to the medium via NBC — the network is also planning a new Bill Cosby comedy.