Hey TV.com, Should I Watch Growing Up Fisher?

By Tim Surette

Feb 21, 2014

Just when you thought your television couldn't get any funnier, the midseason showed up, bringing with it a bunch of new comedies that you forgot were ordered last summer to help fill out the spring 2014 TV schedule. Next on the debut docket is NBC's Growing Up Fisher, which the network has strategically scheduled in hopes of giving it a Winter Olympics-fueled boost. But is the show worth your time? That's the question I'm here to answer in this latest edition of Hey TV.com, I Didn't Even Realize This Show Was On!

Growing Up Fisher, so this is a prequel to The Deadliest Catch?

No! The show is actually kind of difficult to define, not because it has a complex premise, but because it has an incredibly simple one. Growing Up Fisher is about an 11-year-old boy named Henry whose family gets closer when his parents get a divorce and his blind dad gets a guide dog. Say what? Yeah, it's not exactly a high-concept comedy. The series features voiceover narration from Henry as an adult, so Netflix will be recommending it alongside The Wonder Years—it's just that the dad is blind in this one. The beating heart of Growing Up Fisher is the relationship between Henry and his dad, who is blind. Did I mention that the dad is blind?

Who's behind the show, and who's in front of the show?

DJ Nash created Growing Up Fisher along with executive producer Jason Bateman, and it's a lot like Nash's past work: Up All NightGuys With KidsTraffic LightAccidentally on Purpose, and 'Til Death. They're all shows that existed at one point or another, but that we probably won't really remember 10 years from now. J.K. Simmons stars as blind dad Mel, Jenna Elfman plays Mel's ex-wife Joyce (the divorce proceedings kind of happen in the pilot, but they're kind of glossed over), and relative newcomer kid actors Eli Baker and Ava Deluca-Verley play Henry and his sister Katie. Bateman provides the voice of Adult Henry. 

When will Growing Up Fisher see the light and make its debut?

Growing Up Fisher premieres as a "special preview" on Sunday, February 23 at 10:30pm on NBC, after the network's coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremonies. A couple nights later, it moves to its regular time period of Tuesday night at 9:30pm on February 25. 

Who might enjoy Growing Up Fisher?

Families who don't like to stir the pot with anything too edgy, and require their funnies to have a strong sense of family unity! Growing Up Fisher definitely falls under NBC's "broad comedy" initiative, so if you tend to get offended by almost everything, the show should fit well within your boundaries of taste.

What's to like about Growing Up Fisher?

Remember the days when comedies weren't filled with lame sexual innuendo, selfish 20-somethings with no morals, or interesting concepts? Growing Up Fisher does! This is a retro sitcom about a loving family unit, except it's modernized to include a mandatory divorce arc. However, divorce isn't played like a bad thing, but rather as an increasingly normal fact of life; in that sense, Growing Up Fisher shows some faint DNA overlap with ABC's Trophy Wife. The bond between Henry and Mel is the core of the show, and there's definitely something refreshing about a pre-teen son who idolizes his dad. And Mel's indomitable spirit is admirable, even if it means that a blind guy  driving because he's too stubborn to accept his handicap. Finally, J.K. Simmons in anything is great. 

What isn't so great about Growing Up Fisher?

The pilot is so saccharine at times that it leaves little space for wonder. Growing Up Fisher's upbeat tone actually makes it a bit of a bore; it's almost as if the series is so scared of real emotion that it won't allow Henry to be actually sad about his parents' divorce. Instead, he projects his grievances onto his dad's new guide dog. Growing Up Fisher is wearing kid gloves wrapped in pillows that are covered in marshmallows. And while we're at it, it's pleasant without being funny. I don't belong to Jenna Elfman's fan club, but even I know she probably deserves better material than her youth-recapturing character gets.

So, should I watch it?

Maybe if you're having a really crummy day and you want to spend half an hour watching something that has no chance of upsetting you, then sure. Otherwise, I'd pass on Growing Up Fisher, even though it's sweeter than cotton candy and just as fluffy.

Let's take a look at a trailer anyway!


Growing Up Fisher premieres Sunday, February 23 at 10:30pm on NBC, right after the closing ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics. The show moves to its regular time period the following Tuesday, February 25 at 9:30pm.

  • Comments (46)
Add a Comment
In reply to :
  • BabeRuth Feb 23, 2014

    78% of all black people in America are raised in single parent households. Our country is going down the toilet thanks in part to fools who enable this degenerate behavior.

  • paintcan Feb 23, 2014

    Growing up Fisher has several national media reviews that say watch the show.
    Tim just has one vote.

  • AmyTeves Feb 22, 2014

    Besides the obvious blind man jokes aside, there aren't many shows that have the right mix of characters and actors to relate to most people's lives.
    It is the connection people can make with their own lives and memories that made shows like the Waltons, Andy Griffith Show, Happy Days, Gidget, Dobie Gillis, and Little House on the prairie work so well.

  • Muderboy Feb 22, 2014

    The Olympics have been on for what seems like months. I know it's been only two weeks, but how much Hawaii 5.0 do I have to watch before the good stuff comes back? I like JK Simmons very much and he needs to find a good show to be on, but this probably ain't it. But I'll watch it anyway 'til my DVR builds some good stuff back up. Thank god for the non-network channels, but not enough episodes of Banshee and Justified to fill the enormous void the Olympics creates as it pretty much shuts down all the networks.

  • ben45tpy Feb 21, 2014


  • TrevPlatt Feb 21, 2014

    Why was Parker Posey replaced by Jenna Elfman (other than the fact that Parker Posey + braces = really not attractive)? To be fair, Posey really didn't seem to fit in with this one, so I guess Elfman is a step in the right direction.

    I've just watched the Parker Posey version of the pilot and from the review above it sounds like Elfman has made zero impact on the show. Posey's version was bland, saccharine and laugh-free, which is exactly how it sounds after the re-shoot. The Narration is too heavy handed in describing what is very obviously happening right in front of you and it's so frequent it starts to feel like you're watching it with a directors commentary. It's basically a less in-your-face The Goldbergs. This one definitely isn't for me, I prefer my comedies to make me laugh. Also, bearing in mind I've just watched Johnny Sequoyah in Believe and Benjamin Stockham in About A Boy, is it a bit mean of me to point out that the kids in this were pretty terrible at acting - I think we can probably blame the director a little bit for this one.

  • WavSlave Feb 21, 2014

    I don't know about the original incarnation of the show but it's hard to believe Posey herself could be bland in anything. It always seemed to me like she's incapable of anything else but overacting, to every project's detriment.

  • TrevPlatt Feb 21, 2014

    It's as if she wasn't even trying. The biggest problem with this is I know I'm going to have to watch it again with Elfman just to give it a fair shake, even though I already know it's going to be blah!

  • JT_Kirk Feb 21, 2014

    JK Simmons is great. Jason Bateman is great, although I can't speak to him as a producer. That's literally all I can say in favor of this turkey. Its creator has a lot of junk under his belt and little else. I cannot stand Jenna Elfman, she is the definition of trying too hard, her acting is like nails on a chalkboard to me. I do not want to see this, sorry NBC, you've come up short yet again.

  • KateSullivan Feb 21, 2014

    I sort of sighed at this one, no appeal to me at all. And then Trophy Wife does all those things for me while having the adults and the children all be fairly well developed characters.

  • TrevPlatt Feb 21, 2014

    And Trophy Wife is funny!

  • HyperionX001 Feb 21, 2014

    And now for your entertainment, Blind Puns:

    *Blind people often work on-site

    *I probably have blind spots, but I don't see them.

    *What do you call a blind stag? No eye deer.

    *What did the blind tourist do during WWII? Notsee Germany.

    *What would you get if you crossed a bat with a lonely hearts club? Lots of blind dates.

    Thank you folks, I'll be here all week.

  • dodge_hickey Feb 21, 2014

    J. Jonah Jameson! Love me some J.K. Simmons

  • See More Comments (11)