NEW YORK -- Sure, “Glee” has Artie and “Friday Night Lights” had Jason Street.
But there's been a scarcity of disabled characters in prime-time TV -- in fact, none of the major networks had more than one series regular with a disability in the past season.
But that all appeared fated to change on Monday when NBC unveiled its 2013-2014 season at its upfront presentation at Radio City Music Hall: No fewer than three new shows feature a main character with a disability.
J.K. Simmons stars as a blind man in the comedy “The Family Guide”; Blair Underwood plays a hard-edged detective in a wheelchair in the reboot of the crime series “Ironside; and Michael J. Fox plays a loose version of himself in the “The Michael J. Fox Show,’ a comedy about a newscaster with Parkinson’s disease who goes back to work.
All three are the central characters on their respective shows -- unprecedented as far as this reporter can recall on network television.
Two of the shows may cause a stir in the disabled community because those key roles are being played by actors without disabilities (“Glee” has come under criticism for this), but Fox has long suffered from Parkinson’s.
From clips shown Monday, the show doesn’t shy away from his condition but doesn’t hunker down in it either; indeed, many of the jokes are of the more general family-sitcom variety. (Watching an on-air promotion of himself walking in slow-motion to up the seriousness quotient, Fox's character quips: “When you're in slow motion you're either dead or under indictment.")
As for "Guide," the show comes with a texture of truth all its own: The show's creator, D.J. Nash, based the concept on his relationship with his blind father.
ALSO:Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times