If you can't live Christmas like a rock star, how about spending it with one?
That's Annie's ( Betsy Brandt) intention for Mike (Golden Globe nominee Fox) in "Christmas," Thursday's (Dec. 12) obviously well-timed episode of NBC's "The Michael J. Fox Show." Both spouses look forward to their gift exchange on Christmas Eve, maintaining their yearly tradition of trying to give the other the present with the "most 'wow' factor."
At the TV station, though, Harris ( Wendell Pierce) puts a damper on the occasion. He informs Mike -- who needs to pick up a gold turtle charm necklace for Annie, having given the first one he bought to his producer Kay ( Ana Noguiera) at the last minute -- that Mike has to substitute-anchor for nemesis Susan, who's called in sick.
Mike does his best to beg off, but to no avail since Harris reminds him he's "contractually obligated" to fill in. Mike then calls Annie to tell her, and she urges him to get home ASAP since his secret gift is "time-sensitive." After hanging up, she walks over to his "present" ... music superstar Sting, sitting in the couple's living room.
Annie tries to stall for time with the entertainer she addresses as "Mr. Sting," offering him a plate of cookies. "I didn't get to look this good by eating cookies," he tells her. Yet, because it's Christmas, he agrees to "have one."
(It's not a bad time for the music icon to start making the TV rounds again: Material from his latest album, "The Last Ship," is yielding his February appearance on PBS' "Great Performances," plus a stage musical that's headed for Chicago and then Broadway next year.)
As time passes, Annie offers Sting tea and tells him she hopes it isn't stereotypical. He tries to calm her by saying, "After all, I am an Englishman in New York." She doesn't get the significance, so he has to explain it's one of his song titles -- making her suspect things he says later are lines from tunes of his, too.
While they watch Mike's newscast, Annie apologizes to Sting continually for her husband's lateness. The artist is very cool about it, even when Mike gets stuck at the station even later for coverage of a sudden snowstorm ... and even though Annie doesn't seem to know one single Sting song.
"But Mike loves you," she says, "and all of this was for him." Which prompts Sting to suggest they go to the studio and surprise him there. The timing couldn't be better: Upon arriving, Sting disables Kay's boyfriend, who's about to unleash his anger on Mike because Kay broke up with him after receiving the necklace.
"Talk about the king of pain!" marvels Harris.
All turns out well, with Eve ( Juliette Goglia) supplying Mike with the ideal replacement gift for Annie -- salami and French bread, just like they had on their first Christmas Eve together -- and Leigh ( Katie Finneran) flirting with Sting, though she mistakenly believed Annie had summoned Billy Joel instead.
And Sting serenades everyone present in the studio with "August Winds," the only one of his tunes Annie recognizes.
What did you think of Sting on "The Michael J. Fox Show"?
Photo/Video credit: NBC