TV Review: NBC’s ‘Growing Up Fisher’

NBC premieres Growing Up Fisher on Sunday, Feb. 23 at 10:38 p.m. ET. Inspired by executive producer DJ Nash’s life, the series follows the Fisher family, including blind father Mel Fisher (played by J.K. Simmons). The following are reviews from TV critics around the web, compiled by B&C.

“Tweaked from the pilot NBC bought, Growing Up Fisher bears all the hallmarks of a show the network has sought to ‘fix’ on the fly, with the attendant baggage that entails. Anchored by the ever-reliable J.K. Simmons as a blind dad as seen through the eyes of his young son, it’s a show that labors to locate heart and laughs, despite the ‘Dad won’t let his impairment stop him’ underpinnings.”
—Brian Lowry, Variety

“Luckily for Fisher, that dad is played by one of TV's best, most versatile and most dependably watchable actors, J.K. Simmons. Unlucky for Simmons and for us, his show is a concept in search of a story and once it establishes its dad-is-blind premise, it has little more of interest — and nothing much funny — to say about it.”
—Robert Bianco, USA Today

“It might be in good shape if it were just a single-camera series about a family grappling with divorce. Or if it were just a show that focused on the challenges of living with Mel Fisher, a self-reliant attorney who doesn’t let blindness get in his way (namely, by not disclosing that condition to his clients). However, Growing Up Fisher is these shows and more—an identity crisis unhelpfully highlighted in a second episode that finds each Fisher pretending to be someone they’re not.”
—Erik Adams, A.V. Club

“There's absolutely a compelling story here—but it's not entirely clear from the first two episodes whether it's exactly a funny one. NBC has been scrambling (so far unsuccessfully) to locate some idealized broad family comedy that has a deep emotional core. With Fisher (as with the canceled Michael J. Fox Show), the hope is that a disability—if sensitively handled—will provide the key.”
—Verne Gay, Newsday

“The show seems a pale imitation of The Goldbergs, the much funnier ABC show created by Adam F. Goldberg based on his own childhood. Granted, the parents in that show, played to hilarious perfection by Jeff Garlin and Wendi McLendon-Covey, are more broadly written than the parents in Fisher, but at least you don't find yourself trying to imagine what they ever saw in each other.”
—David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle