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Watching Stuff Thursday

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 26, 2013

Tonight brings the series premieres of "The Michael J. Fox Show"
and "The Crazy Ones," as well as the season premieres of "Grey's Anatomy," "Parenthood," "Elementary," "Two and a Half Men," "Parks and Recreation" and "The Big Bang Theory." Both "Big Bang" and "Parks" have hour-long premieres. "Grey's Anatomy" is two hours; "Scandal" begins a new season on Oct. 3.

I have mistakenly mentioned that "The Millers" starts tonight; it will arrive on Oct. 3.

I said my piece about "The Crazy Ones" in this column.. It appears from reading my colleagues' work that, while there's plenty of praise for James Wolk and guest star Kelly Clarkson, that the reaction to this show depends a great deal on how tired people are of Robin Williams's schtick. Apparently I am not, since I liked Williams in the series premiere -- although some of his best business is in collaboration with Wolk. We'll see.

I liked "The Michael J. Fox Show," but in a different way. It's more of a character piece, a smiler as much or more than as a laugher. The premise, in case you missed it, is that Fox plays Mike Henry,  a family man and beloved New York City newsman who walked away from his job to deal with the effects of Parkinson's disease.(As you know, Fox himself has Parkinson's.)  Now he has the disease somewhat under control, his family is tired of having him around the house -- and his TV station wants him back.

The show addresses Parkinson's in the premiere, albeit in a way that has more to do with how others react than with Henry's own struggles; one early gag involves the wheels on an anchor chair. It will not ignore it in the future; there's a pretty funny little Parkinson's joke in a later episode. (I have seen three, including the two airing back-to-back tonight.)

But it can also devote plenty of air time to stories about Mike's character foibles -- such as how he reacts to a new neighbor played by Tracy Pollan, Fox's real-life wife -- and those of other characters, including Mike's daughter Eve (nicely played by Juliette Goglia). Mike's sister Leigh (Katie Finneran). and Mike's boss Harris (the mighty Wendell Pierce). Actors like those can sell even the most modest of laughs, and that's what "The Michael J. Fox Show" has a lot of. There's a lot that depends on how much you want Fox to react to certain situations, such as the one with the neighbor. But I saw enough good in the three episodes to keep watching.

The DVR is set for "Big Bang," Two and a Half Men" and "Elementary." Many of my colleagues hate "Men," but I still get some laughs from it.

I fell off the "Grey's" bus long ago. I like "Parks" but don't watch it regularly.  I never fell under the spell of "Parenthood," and -- as often as I read good things about it -- it seems too late in story terms to dive in now.

From previous nights, the second new installment of "Survivor" was not as enjoyable as the first (Rupert's swift departure seemed preordained),  but it was good enough that I'll stick around. Only I wish they would send Colton on his way soon. The season premiere of "NCIS" reminded me how much the show loves complicated plots -- and how much more I prefer to watch the characters.

 

 

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