Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pilot Review: Growing Up Fisher

Growing Up Fisher (NBC)
Premiered February 23 at 10:30pm

With many of its most successful comedy series now off the air, and its attempts to revive its comedy block with shows starring Sean Hayes and Michael J. Fox proven unproductive thanks to their quick cancellations, NBC is in the search of its next great comedy. This show and “About a Boy” both premiered over the weekend, and their second episodes were supposed to air on Tuesday night, but NBC opted to show the pilots again instead. This show used to be known as “The Family Guide,” a great title thanks to its layered meaning referencing both protagonist Henry and the actual guide dog as the ones keeping the Fisher family on track. The always zany Parker Posey was replaced by the equally energetic Jenna Elfman, as the family’s matriarch, joining the very dependable J.K. Simmons, who gets the opportunity to play the blind father who managed to hide his lack of sight from his coworkers thanks to clever tricks and the loyal help of his son. This show is definitely individualistic, and is certainly much more bearable than “The Goldbergs” or other niche family comedies. It’s no “Modern Family,” however, endearing enough to provide substantial entertainment but not really able to rise to the level of a truly quality show based on its pilot alone. Simmons’ Mel Fisher is undeniably the reason to watch, and while it’s amusing to see his antics, it’s hard to take a show about a blind man who cuts down a tree and drives a car better than his question without batting an eye seriously.

How will it work as a series? I’m sure that there’s more than ample material to last this show a lifetime, especially with a title that doesn’t limit its “growing up” to any set period of time. Suspending disbelief about the antics of its characters might prove more difficult, and narrator Henry might prove to be too precocious and all-knowing for his own good.
How long will it last? The pilot actually did pretty well when it aired again in its regular time slot, and there may just be hope for this show after all. Its reviews weren’t as strong as those of “About a Boy,” but I suspect it will end up doing just fine and may actually have a shot at a second season.

Pilot grade: C+

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