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Michael J. Fox, Crazy Ones debut tonight

Posted: September 26, 2013 at 2:52 a.m.

Thursdays have always been the most important TV night during the week. It’s when movies and other weekend plans get advertised.

That’s why you’ll find the two most anticipated new comedies of the fall debuting tonight. Fortunately, they usually aren’t on opposite each other. NBC, however, is airing two episodes of The Michael J. Fox Show tonight in hopes of messing up the premiere of CBS’ The Crazy Ones.

Yes, the networks do that sort of thing all the time.

Fridays and Saturdays, on the other hand, have become the black holes of broadcast television. All the younger viewers that advertisers covet are out doing stuff and only ossified, hide-bound geezers (defined by advertisers as anyone over 49) are home watching TV.

Consequently, programs aimed at older viewers fill the slots on Fridays. Saturdays, for the most part, are killed with reruns.

That said, here’s the lineup of new programs over the next three days. Brand new shows are in bold type.

Thursday

7 p.m.: The Big Bang Theory (CBS); Parks and Recreation (NBC).

7:30 p.m.: The Millers (CBS).

8 p.m.: The Crazy Ones (CBS); Glee (Fox); Grey’s Anatomy (ABC); The Michael J. Fox Show (NBC); Two and a Half Men (CBS).

9 p.m.: Elementary (CBS); Parenthood (NBC).

Friday

7 p.m.: Dateline NBC (NBC); Master Chef Junior (Fox); Undercover Boss (CBS).

8 p.m.: Hawaii Five-O (CBS).

9 p.m.: Blue Bloods (CBS).

Saturday

9 p.m.: 48 Hours (CBS).

10:30 p.m.: Saturday Night Live (NBC).

Let’s take the new shows in order.

The Millers is a sadly uneven comedy starring two of the most gifted actors working today.

Will Arnett (Arrested Development) plays a recently divorced guy whose newly separated mom (Justified’s Margo Martindale) moves in with him. Beau Bridges plays her estranged husband.

This is one of several new sitcoms featuring colorful, frustrating parents moving in with their baffled kids (see Dads, Mom, Back in the Game). I’m wondering if it’s not overkill. How many times can you go to this well before it runs dry?

The comedy comes from Greg Garcia. He should know what he’s doing since he gave us Raising Hope, My Name Is Earl and Yes, Dear. Now if Garcia can only utilize his ace cast before CBS pulls the plug.

The Crazy Ones. “A little of Robin Williams goes a long way if he’s doing his shtick,” a co-worker informed me. By shtick, she meant his manic personality that we came to love in his Mork & Mindy days.

Well, Williams is 62 now and it’s getting harder to do that shtick. Still, there is a good bit of it in The Crazy Ones where he plays half of a father/daughter whiz-bang Chicago advertising team. The daughter is played by cult favorite Sarah Michelle Gellar, who shall forever be Buffy in our hearts.

The comedy comes from the prolific David E. Kelley (Ally McBeal, Boston Legal) and incorporates some brilliantly infused product placement. The pilot, for example, is almost an infomercial for McDonald’s and features a guest appearance by Kelly Clarkson.

(Aside: I don’t mind product placement if it’s natural to the storyline. On Bones’ season opener, however, an egregious example took place when Jack turns to Angela and, out of the blue, said, “It’s getting late; I hope we have Sleepy Hollow set to DVR.” Sleepy Hollow debuted after that Bones episode. Shame on you, Fox.)

Added Crazy Ones bonus: James Wolk from Mad Men is on the ad team.

The Michael J. Fox Show. This is probably the most highly anticipated new comedy of the fall. Fox, who has worked sparingly since he disclosed his Parkinson’s, plays Mike Henry, a beloved New York newsman with Parkinson’s who returns to work after taking a few years off to deal with his situation.

The pilot is witty and smart and deals with the disease with warmth and humor. The first episode is heavy on Parkinson’s humor and explanation in order to set up the premise, but it never becomes too much.

Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad) plays the wife, and the three kids actually seem to love their parents. That’s a rarity for kids on TV these days.

Added bonus: Wendell Pierce (Treme, The Wire) plays Mike’s boss.

After this week, The Michael J. Fox Show airs at 8:30 with the doomed (my prediction) Sean Saves the World moving into the 8 p.m. slot.

Master Chef Junior. You either love or hate vein-popping chef Gordon Ramsay. I don’t particularly enjoy cooking shows or people screaming, or people screaming during cooking shows, so I’m probably not the one to ask about this offering.

I understand that Ramsay will be on better behavior as budding chefs between the ages of 8 and 13 compete in the kitchen. There will be mentors and a panel of judges at the end.

The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Email: mstorey@arkansasonline.com

Weekend, Pages 32 on 09/26/2013

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