Michael J. Fox is coming back to television on “The Michael J. Fox Show.” Addressing his Parkinsons head on, he plays Mike Henry, a newsman going back to work while managing his condition, just like the real Fox is doing with this show. Fox has been inspiring people since he revealed his diagnosis, but on the show he’s having fun with the public sympathy. The network puts together a schmaltzy promo reel with slow motion and inspiring music.
“That’s a little meta,” Fox said today in a session with the Television Critics Association. “We’re playing on that because it’s funny, the struggle with Mike on the show is the struggle I had. You want to go back and you want to do work. You don’t want to be a novelty and I think Mike Henry and I avoided it by just taking the work seriously and working hard trying to do the best show we can do and not cruising on any kind of perceived good will.”
The show is very self-deprecating about Fox and Parkinsons, with overt slapstick about his trembling hands. Fox remains a gifted comedian, but he acknowledges he has changed his natural rhythms, albeit subconsciously.
“It’s kind of like Mark Twain said, comedy’s like a frog. If you dissect it, you’ll find out how it works but it’ll die in the process. So I don’t spend a lot of time analyzing it. I read material and there’s a rhythm that I read in and a rhythm that I perceive it in and calculate it in, and then it just comes out the way it comes out.”
The Henry family is more than loosely based on the Fox family, including a supportive but irreverent wife and kids dealing with Fox’s hands on interest in their lives. “There are some things that are taken from life,” Fox said. “For example, my youngest daughter when she went to camp a couple years ago, took us aside and said, ‘I’m going to warn you, when I go to camp and you look at pictures on the internet, I’m trying out a new smile.’ We transposed that to the daughter breaking a new run. She doesn’t like the way she runs so she comes in and rehearses a new running method for us. Just little snips and pieces of the experience of raising teenagers.”
The Michael J. Fox is coming to NBC in September.