Growing Up Fisher: TV review

While it's based on a personal story, there's a lack of connection in this family comedy
 (Photograph: NBC)
1/10
Photograph: NBCEli Baker as Henry and J.K. Simmons as Mel in Growing Up Fisher
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Photograph: NBCEli Baker as Henry and Jenna Elfman as Joyce in Growing Up Fisher
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Photograph: NBCJenna Elfman as Joyce, Eli Baker as Henry and Ava Deluca-Verley as Katie in Growing Up Fisher
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4/10
Photograph: NBCJ.K. Simmons as Mel in Growing Up Fisher
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5/10
Photograph: NBCLance Lim as Runyen and Eli Baker as Henry in Growing Up Fisher
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6/10
Photograph: NBCHaley Pullos as Sofia and Eli Baker as Henry in Growing Up Fisher
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7/10
Photograph: NBCEli Baker as Henry and Jenna Elfman as Joyce in Growing Up Fisher
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8/10
Photograph: NBCJenna Elfman as Joyce in Growing Up Fisher
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9/10
Photograph: NBCEli Baker as Henry in Growing Up Fisher
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10/10
Photograph: NBCEli Baker as Henry and Ava Deluca-Verley as Katie in Growing Up Fisher
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Premieres after the Olympics on Sunday, February 23 at 9:36pm on NBC. Regular episodes will air Tuesday nights at 8:30pm.

If it weren't based creator DJ Nash's own childhood, you might find aspects of Growing Up Fisher to be completely unbelievable. Inspired by his own experiences growing up with a blind father who didn't allow his disability to get in the way of doing things like chopping down trees with a chainsaw, Growing Up Fisher's patriarch is an inspirational characters, it's just too bad the rest of the show is so boring.

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Similar to How I Met Your Mother, Growing Up Fisher is set in the here and now but narrated by an older version of it's 11-year-old protagonist Henry (Eli Baker, narrated by Jason Bateman). Old Henry tells us the uplifting tale of his father Mel (J.K. Simmons), a blind man who has managed to hide his disability from co-workers, clients and anyone outside of his family for decades. But when Mel's wife Joyce (Jenna Elfman) decides she wants a divorce, he elects to reveal his secret and begin living as a blind man—guide dog, dark sunglasses and all.

Simmons is a lovely actor and in his hands you never question Mel's ability to do things that seem dangerous, like showing his daughter how to parallel park or the aforementioned chainsaw-wielding. Unfortunately, the actor's age (he's 59) makes him feel out of place with the significantly younger cast playing his family. Elfman—who's 17 years younger than Simmons—reads more as a daughter than his soon-to-be-estranged wife. This is product of their age gap, a lack of intimate chemistry, and her character's constant commitment to reclaim her youth. Similarly, young Baker—who struggles to hold the weight of the show on his shoulders—reads much more like a grandson. In the end, the Fishers struggle to hold your interest because they are primarily defined by their relationship to Mel's disability and the impending divorce, leaving little to latch onto beyond the novelty of a blind man doing things that maybe he shouldn't.

There's charm in Growing Up Fisher's concept but a lack of connection between its core characters that saps life from Nash's personal story, making it bland and unrelatable.

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