Michael J. Fox’s New NBC Sitcom and Chronic Illness on Television

It won’t be on television for a year, but NBC just won a competitive auction for a sitcom that would bring Michael J. Fox back to television. Dan Fienberg has the details over at HitFix:

NBC was able to seal the deal by making a full 22-episode series commitment to the Fox project, based only on the script by Will Gluck (“Easy A”) and Sam Laybourne (“Cougar Town”). Gluck will also direct the single-camera series, which will begin filming later this year and will premiere in Fall 2013. The project is loosely based on Fox’s real life and will feature the “Back to the Future” and “Frighteners” star as the father of three living in New York City and dealing with life’s various challenges. Fox’s Parkinson’s will be a part of the show.

That last line, I think, is crucial to whether the show is a warmhearted but bland family comedy or something more unique. If this is a Hollywood version of chronic illness where it’s played for laughs, and no one every exceeds the amount of treatment covered by their insurance, and everyone’s employer is beautifully accommodating all the time, that may be a vision of a world I’d like to live in, but it’ll be a quick way to flatten a lot of the chances for humor and drama out of the show. Legit, FX’s upcoming show about a comedian and his friend, who uses a motorized wheelchair, is funny and emotionally affecting precisely because it doesn’t try to make everything seem nice or easy. It’d be revelatory to have some of that attitude on network television.