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In news that shouldn't be much of a surprise to anyone, NBC has decided to pull The Michael J. Fox Show from the schedule. The comedy aired 15 episodes of its 22-episode order so far and there's no word on whether or not NBC will burn off the remaining episodes at some later time. In the meantime, Hollywood Game Night will replace The Michael J. Fox Show on Thursday nights for the time being.
Deadline notes that the series isn't officially cancelled and that production wrapped on the series late last year. So the remaining episodes could still air at some point in the future, though there are no current plans to put them on the air. Usually, a comedy will initially receive a shorter episode order for their first season, in the hopes that their early numbers will be strong enough to earn a back-nine order for a full 22-episode season. However, that wasn't the case for The Michael J. Fox show, which received a full 22-episode series order from the start. The comedy debuted to strong numbers last fall, but the ratings dropped off steeply and by the end of November, the series wasn't breaking 3 million viewers per episode. The last new episode, which aired near the end of January, took in 2.18 million viewers.
To say that NBC's had a rough time getting comedies to stick would be an understatement and it's come at the expense of their once powerful Thursday night block. NBC added Welcome to the Family, Sean Saves the World and The Michael J. Fox show to the Thursday line-up last fall and none of them stuck. Meanwhile, Parks and Recreation and Community are what's left of their veteran series and, beloved as they are by fans, neither perform well enough to attract a substantial viewership to NBC's other shows. Without a rock-solid lead-in, and factoring in competition from the other networks (including CBS' ratings juggernaut The Big Bang Theory) NBC's comedy line-up has fizzled.
Low ratings can be blamed for the new shows' failure, but let's be honest, low ratings are just a symptom of a bigger problem. We can argue that Community and Parks and Recreation are underappreciated. By quality and humor, both should be performing a lot better than they are. But can we really say the same about The Michael J. Fox Show or Sean Saves the World? Neither were terrible shows, but neither stood-out as must-watch either.
Sean Saves the World played like a comedy better suited for CBS's audience -- multi-camera comedy, theatrical humor, somewhat goofy one-liners, etc. I say that not a slight to the show, as i think Sean Hayes is a likable and funny guy. I just don't think this comedy was a good fit for NBC. I had pretty much the exact same issue with Whitney. Meanwhile, The Michael J. Fox Show was as likable as its star but not funny enough or anything else enough to make me want to tune in each week, which is unfortunate. So, as a fan of Michael J. Fox and pretty much the whole cast of his comedy, I'm more disappointed that I didn't love the series enough to keep watching than I am that there's a good chance it's not coming back after Season 1.