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Adjusted Screen: Television Welcomes Back Film Stars, Good And Bad

The return of film giants Michael J. Fox and Robin Williams to television begs the question: how do you go from small screen to big screen and back to small screen and make it a seamless transition?
For some, it's like the never left. Others, you just wish they'd leave for good.
Fox fills the former void quite well with his aptly titled "Michael J. Fox Show," where Fox plays a newscaster who suffers from Parkinson's Disease and decides to go back to work. If the plot sounds familiar it should; it pretty much sums up Fox's real life forage back to acting.
The star of mega box office hits like "Back to the Future" and "Secret of My Success" cultivated his acting chops as Alex P. Keaton in "Family Ties" and thus transitioned nicely from television to film. He's being welcomed back to the small screen with open arms, not just because the subject matter hits close to home for him. Nothing about the "Michael J. Fox Show" stands out, other than Fox himself winning his personal battle right in front of our eyes. Most of what is enjoyable about the show itself is the Parkinson's jokes made with a heavy heart and sense of hope for those afflicted with the disease.
Fox amps up the charm and delivers his self-deprecating one liners, and he seems comfortable doing it. You don't feel sorry for Fox, but rather just enjoy his presence and realize that he's always been likeable, whether he's a teen-age werewolf on a basketball team or a misplaced doctor from Hollywood.

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The flip side to the gleeful is the sheer torture of sitting through a 30 minute sitcom with a movie star who is simply going through the motions. That pretty much sums up Williams, who is back this fall with "The Crazy Ones," an ironic title for a show that most would be foolish to watch.
Williams is undoubtedly an iconic performer and comedic legend, but this vehicle needs a crash course in sanity. The latter stages of Williams' career has consisted of him annoyingly refusing to sit still when he visits any talk show and constantly "riffing" with inane bits and nettlesome impressions that no one enjoys but him. Even the talk-show hosts sheepishly laugh with a phoniness about it that reeks of desperation for all parties involved.
The pinnacle of Williams' "train off the tracks" routine is "The Crazy Ones." How odd is it that the modern day, real life version of Williams feels more like an alien than his original television character "Mork" from "Mork and Mindy?"
Fox finds his niche and speaks universally to his audience, no matter if they're watching in a movie theater or at home on the tube. As for Williams, he just makes you want to break your TV.

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