In one of many great throwaway jokes about the continual decline of NBC on the show 30 Rock, there’s a scene where NBC executive Jack Donaghy has a whiteboard filled with ideas about how to make NBC number one again, one of which is [paraphrasing] “Make it 1995 again, through science or magic.”
In real life, NBC appears set to try do that strategy one better, by trying to make it 1982 again. Yes, after fighting it out with the three other big broadcast networks, NBC has won the right to air a new Michael J. Fox sitcom, bypassing the usual pilot process entirely and simply ordering a 22 episode season, with no pilot, or even script, in place yet. (Indeed it could be said the NBC is trying to go back in time.)
Yes, a full thirty years after the premiere of Family Ties (you are old) Fox is considered enough of a proven commodity that just a pitch for a new show starring him “sparked a heated bidding war among nearly all the major broadcast networks.” He also appears to have gotten to that stage of his career where he’s able to just do a show which is a lightly fictionalized version of his life. The new, as yet untitled, show will find Fox basically playing himself, a father of three living in New York City and dealing with the challenges of Parkinson’s disease.
The show is to be written by Sam Laybourne of the surprisingly critically acclaimed Cougar Town and Will Gluck of the short-lived Fox sitcom The Loop. Though Fox has actually had a pretty steady amount of TV work since his Parkinson’s became more severe, he hasn’t had a lead role on a television show since turn the lead on Spin City over to Charlie Sheen in 2001.
The likelihood of Fox turning this new show over to Sheen after five years (assuming Sheen is still alive at that point) would seem to be lower.
The new series will launch in the fall of 2013.