Spin City was a great show for the first three years, okay for a year, and bad for the last two. From what I've read on IMDb, I'm the one who didn't like Michael J. Fox from Family Ties and Back to the Future. I also don't like some of the things I've heard him say in interviews, but that all goes away when he is playing Mike Flaherty. That, I believe, is a sign of a good actor.
This show is by Mike, for Mike, and about Mike, and for the first 3 years of the show, it worked, and worked well. Bringing in Heather Locklear served its intended purpose, which was to create competition for Mike, but it did not work. This show was at its best when Mike was in command of his team of dunces, including the mayor.
In the beginning, Carla Gugino played Mike's love interest, and that created some great moments just in the first 12 episodes. Mike is the Deputy mayor of New York City, and Gugino, as Ashley, was a City Hall reporter. Not a totally original concept, but it worked really well. After the original 12 episode run, they decided that they had enough show without the Ashley character. Apparently it came as a surprise to the producers of the show that New York City politics was enough to stand on its own. So much so that no character other than Mike was ever really explored on this show.
All the other characters are very simple, but very funny. Stuart is the sex obsessed wacko. Carter is the homosexual, token black wacko. Nikki is the unlucky in love, neurotic wacko. James is the naive wacko. Stacy is the foul-mouthed Brooklynite wacko. Paul is just plain wacko.
What made the first 3 seasons great were the story lines and the performances of Michael J. Fox and Barry Bostwick. The fact that they used politics without politicizing the show just makes it a stroke of genius. Think about this: the show is about politics, and it never once got preachy. In fact, I don't believe they ever come out and say what political party the staff is representing. Reading between the lines, you can figure out that they are Democrats, but that is not the point of the show in any way. Others may find this a detriment to the show, meaning it was not socially relevant. This is true, it was not. But it was funny. That was really the bottom line of this show. It was just funny. Nothing more, nothing less. The jokes made you laugh. Whether its a joke about the Pope, or the state of Wisconsin, or homosexuality, or an overflowing toilet (perhaps the single best moment ever on the show).
This show lost me in the fourth season when Heather Locklear came on board. Her character took charge of the office, and the energy that came with Mike in control was gone. In addition, with two well known stars on the show, the other characters were literally filtered out. I would have loved to see Caitlin take on Stacey, but Jennifer Esposito left as Heather Locklear came on. Of course, Mike and Caitlin eventually fell for each other, but it never really worked, and shortly thereafter, Mike was gone.
I personally consider the Charlie Sheen years to be a completely different show, not worthy of comment.
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