When I was a kid I had the biggest crush on Michael J. Fox. If you’re interested, I’m straight. Not that it matters. But I do mention it if only to enforce and convey the depths of Fox’s pull over my psyche and general affection when I was younger. I loved him completely. His mannerisms. His timing. His mildly raspy voice. There was always something incredibly reassuring and comforting to me when he was on screen. And for my money, Fox is the most gifted television actor of his generation, and one of the most imminently likable screen presences of the last thirty years, if not of all time.
Family Ties was on when I was the perfect age for Family Ties to be on. Smack in the sweet spot of its target audience, I gobbled it up, along with Growing Pains and Different Strokes and The Cosby Show and other mid 80s sitcoms that dominated my early adolescent viewing. And among all the great characters at that time, including Cliff Huxtable himself, Alex P. Keaton, played by Michael J. Fox, was hands down the best character on television. And the best television acting performance of the entire decade. You could disagree with me, but you’d be wrong. Once in a while I still catch a random re-run of Family Ties and though it can get by on nostalgia alone, it’s Fox’s work on the show that nudges it past the soppy kitsch it would otherwise be relegated to, and moves it nearly to the point of art. Nearly. He’s that good.
In the late 90’s, Fox returned to television as New York City deputy mayor Mike Flaherty on Spin City, a criminally underrated turn that, while mired in a show that was, in truth, only pretty good, saw Fox’s comedic genius on display week after glorious week.
Time will tell if the show is any good. It actually looks all right and seems to mesh Fox’s natural comedic chops with the aesthetic drive of how he’s tackled Parkinson’s. The truth is that I don’t even care if the show is good. I’m just glad Michael J. Fox is back where he belongs.
Because in truth, I’ve never really gotten over that crush.