Many people are keen on attending the upcoming Winter Olympics, including two TV-newsroom rivals.
They would be Mike (Michael J. Fox) and Susan (recurring guest star Anne Heche), who compete for the assignment in “Sochi,” Thursday’s (Jan. 23) episode of NBC’s “The Michael J. Fox Show,” marking the sitcom’s last airing before the network’s coverage of the Games begins.
Mike decides to “throw my hat into the ring” by studying up on figure skating, believing that going to Russia will help make up for his falling off “the fast track to be a national reporter (until) Parkinson’s sidelined me.” He gets Annie’s (Betsy Brandt) blessing to go, but admits he worries about being away from their kids for several weeks and missing “any special moments.”
Eve (Juliette Goglia) then enters the kitchen to ask her parents to “keep it down” while she’s trying to nap — prompting Mike to add, “Or I could extend my trip.”
Or he could not go at all, a possibility when he sees how eager Susan also is for the job. After he accuses her of sabotaging the soundtrack of an Olympic demo tape he made for boss Harris (Wendell Pierce), she claims she’s “a walking demo. My work speaks for itself.”
Harris reiterates he can send only one of them, along with a member of the sports department. Susan none-too-subtly begins spilling stats on athletes she apparently has done her homework on.
Not so, it turns out: Mike exposes an earpiece she’s wearing, and she has to cop to “having an intern feed me facts.”
Mike doesn’t hesitate to pounce on the notion of someone having “this little integrity,” which helps Harris make a quick decision: “Mike, you’re going to Sochi.” As Mike does a victory jig around the office, Harris warns him, “Don’t make me change my mind.”
Ultimately, Harris is forced to do just that. The sports guy comes down with food poisoning, so Susan becomes Mike’s traveling companion. Mike suspects sneaky Susan had something to do with the sudden illness, and Harris can’t dispute that hunch.
Arriving in Sochi after an 18-hour plane trip, Mike wants to head straight for the International Broadcast Center, and he and Susan are dismayed to learn they’ll have to remain there to cover the Games. They have a red pass for local news, not the gold pass for national news that would allow them into Olympic venues.
Susan thinks she has a way in — by donning a figure-skating outfit — but it doesn’t work. She and Mike then lament how their earlier aims for network careers got derailed, and she says she thought he always would make the big time. He’s touched by the compliment, which reinforces Susan to get them where they want to go in Sochi.
Learning a BBC reporter hasn’t claimed his gold pass, she urges Mike to impersonate the man. His lack of a British accent is a potential problem, but Susan attempts one and manages to get them the pass … which she promptly snatches from Mike. Or so she thinks: As she runs off, Mike reveals he was ready for her move and hung onto the golden ticket.
He achieves what he intended at the Games, to the degree that a network executive notices and offers Mike a spot helping to cover the closing ceremonies. Initially excited by the prospect, he ultimately realizes that by staying in Sochi longer, he’ll be missing Eve’s attempt to win the Miss Teen Manhattan pageant back home.
Mike then decides to offer Susan the TV opportunity instead. She’s apparently touched by his sacrifice, but quickly bolts, shouting joyously about her shot at network stardom.
Later in New York, Mike turns up just in time for the pageant and to see Eve win it. She and Annie are both surprised to find him there, and after returning to their apartment, the whole family watches the broadcast of a report Mike taped while still in Sochi.
As it ends, a re-energized Susan appears on the screen, explaining that she’s filling in for “Bob Costas — who has food poisoning.” Hmm.