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Return of Michael J. Fox Wednesday highlight

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The future is now: Michael J. Fox returns in his own series as a news anchor with Parkinson's disease.


The future is now: Michael J. Fox returns in his own series as a news anchor with Parkinson's disease.

ABC/SEPT. 25/7:30 p.m.


Starring: Maggie Lawson, James Caan, Lenora Crichlow, Griffin Gluck, Ben Koldyke

Premise: A former softball star who's been thrown a few curveballs by life -- a baby too soon, divorce from a loser husband, a lost college scholarship -- returns to her hometown and moves in with her crusty ex-jock father and reluctantly becomes involved in coaching a dead-end Little League team.

Lowdown: Lawson is fairly charming as a single mom at the end of her rope who has no intention of getting back into the ol' ball game -- until some smarmy chauvinist coaches diss her kid and refuse to support any of the less-skilled Little Leaguers. Caan's performance as the beer-guzzling granddad seems to be a combination of mailing it in and chewing the scenery as hard as he possibly can. Still, there's something slightly likable about the duelling father/daughter duo.

Bottom line: Not a strikeout, but not a home run, either; let's call this one a bloop single.


GLOBAL/OCT. 2/8 p.m.



Starring: Sean Hayes, Linda Lavin, Megan Hilty, Sami Isler

Premise: A divorced gay dad is struggling to balance parenthood and a demanding career. Things get a bit easier -- and a lot more complicated -- when his know-it-all mom announces she's moving in to help share the load.

Lowdown: Hayes (Will & Grace) and Lavin (Alice) are old-time sitcom veterans and this one has a decidedly old-style sitcom vibe to it -- for better or worse. There's nothing innovative about the traditional setup/punchline rhythm, so it'll be up to the writers and actors to make a very familiar format somehow feel fresh. Hilty (Smash) is a late cast addition, so what she'll contribute remains to be seen.

Bottom line: He did it once with his W&G castmates, but it's unlikely Sean will save the network this time around.


GLOBAL/SEPT. 25/8:30 p.m.



Starring: Michael J. Fox, Wendell Pierce, Betsy Brandt

Premise: After taking five years off to deal with a Parkinson's disease diagnosis and spend time with his family, a popular New York City TV-news anchor returns to his job and adjusts to a new set of workplace realities.

Lowdown: Fox, who remains one of TV's most popular stars, has incorporated his disability into several recent guest-starring roles and has wisely chosen to make it part of this exceedingly charming new sitcom. While not exactly uproariously funny, this crisply written comedy delivers ample measures of charm and wit. Brandt (Breaking Bad) is a perfect foil as Fox's supportive but stressed wife, and Pierce (Treme, The Wire) hits all his punchlines perfectly.

Bottom line: If there's a sure-fire hit in this fall's lineup, this is it.


ABC/CITYTV/OCT. 2/8:30 p.m.


Starring: Rebel Wilson, Lauren Ash, Liza Lapira, Kelen Coleman, Kevin Bishop

Premise: Three social-outcast girlfriends who've had a standing girls'-night-in date every Friday for 13 years suddenly have to rethink their party schedule when one gets a promotion that leads to actual social-life possibilities.

Lowdown: ABC is counting on this as a star-making vehicle for Aussie import Wilson (Bridesmaids), but the betting here is the cringe factor in Fun Night's humour might be too much for many viewers to endure. It's nice that Wilson is comfortable with her physique, but making her weight the central premise in nearly all the jokes makes the whole thing feel very tired very quickly. Conan O'Brien is one of the executive producers, and this show is a direct result of Wilson having impressed him when she was a guest on his late-night show.

Bottom line: Not nearly as much fun as network promos would have you believe.


NBC/GLOBAL/OCT. 2/9 p.m.


Starring: Blair Underwood, Pablo Schreiber, Spencer Grammer, Neal Bledsoe

Premise: Two years after having his spinal cord severed by an on-the-job shooting, New York's toughest detective has refused to let being confined to a wheelchair stop him from solving crimes.

Lowdown: It's been a couple of generations since Raymond Burr played San Francisco detective Robert T. Ironside (1967-75), so most TV-watchers won't even be aware that this is a remake. And really, other than the title and the central character's disability, there's not much similarity between the original and this rather ordinary police procedural. One thing the '60s/'70s NBC series didn't have to deal with was CBS's still-formidable C.S.I. as its time-slot competition.

Bottom line: The original Ironside ran for eight seasons and 199 episodes. This one won't.


CTV/OCT. 9/10 p.m.


Starring: Robbie Amell, Peyton List, Mark Pellegrino, Madeleine Mantock

Premise: An otherwise normal teenager suddenly starts having strange dreams and teleporting in his sleep, never knowing where he might wake up. Just when he thinks he's losing his mind, one of the voices in his head leads him to a group of young mutants who share the same powers.

Lowdown: Based on a British series but produced for the youth-obsessed CW network, this adventure from producer Greg Berlanti (Arrow, Everwood) is populated by the usual CW-ish roster of young and extremely attractive actors. The premise is intriguing, and because it's a CW show, it won't have to draw a huge audience to be considered a success.

Bottom line: These people will likely be around tomorrow, and quite a few days after that.



The X Factor (premi®red Sept. 11, Fox)

Survivor: Blood vs. Water (tonight, CBS/Global)

The Middle (Sept. 25, ABC)

Revolution (Sept. 25, NBC/Citytv)

Modern Family (Sept. 25, ABC/Citytv)

Criminal Minds (Sept. 25, CBS/CTV)

Law & Order: SVU (Sept. 25, NBC/Sundays on CTV)

Nashville (Sept. 25, ABC/Citytv)

C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation (Sept. 25, CBS/CTV)

Arrow (Oct. 9, CTV)

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 18, 2013 D3


Updated on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 8:23 AM CDT: Replaces photo, adds video

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