Despite very high expectations, NBC's freshman series "The Michael J. Fox Show" isn't exactly the ratings smash the network was hoping for. NBC showed a great deal of confidence in the show, ordering a full season of episodes without first ordering a pilot. Sadly, the show hasn't been pulling in the numbers expected of a major star's first regular TV role in over a decade. Here are four reasons why "The Michael J. Fox Show" is struggling to find an audience, and may be canceled.
1. Overall concept
On the show, Fox plays a TV news anchor who returns to work after being diagnosed with Parkinson's. It's clearly an autobiographical series to some extent, but it does seem a bit weird that the show is called "The Michael J. Fox Show," but centers on a character named Mike Henry. TV fans are obviously responding well to how candidly Fox deals with his real-life Parkinson's, but some fans wish the show was more autobiographical, in keeping with smart comedies like "Curb Your Enthusiasm" or "Louie."
2. Lacks edge and self-awareness
The fact of the matter is that today's TV fans expect autobiographical TV comedies to have some edge and self-awareness. Blurring the lines between an actor's real personality and the persona that fans impose on them can lead to comedy gold. "The Michael J. Fox Show" comes off as too saccarhine, especially in a TV landscape where Wil Wheaton plays an evil version of himself on "The Big Bang Theory" and even wholesome Olivia Newton-John doesn't mind pretending to be a bit of a diva when playing herself on "Glee."
3. Breaking the fourth wall
Several TV critics have panned "The Michael J. Fox Show" for aping the cinematic techniques and overall feel of "Modern Family." TV Guide's Matt Roush argued that the show had "a cliché video-journal gimmick…which ends up belaboring each point."
4. Refuses to break new ground
Overall, many TV fans have found "The Michael J. Fox Show" to be too safe, and replete with tired TV tropes. Common sitcom plots like "the wife meets the hot neighbor and gets jealous" or "the wacky aunt causes mischief" may be classic TV staples, but they're also a little stale for the average TV fan living in 2013.
Even when the show tries to be edgy, it comes off as commercial. While "30 Rock" had great success integrating NBC News personalities, the same simply cannot be said for the hamfisted use of Matt Lauer in the first episode of "The Michael J. Fox Show." It's possible that this series could find its legs by the end of the season, but the show is unlikely to be renewed unless ratings improve.
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