'Growing Up Fisher' review: Sweet, amusing comedy for the family

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"Growing Up Fisher" isn't exactly what you would call "edgy" comedy. When the plot doesn't get any crazier than a blind guy taking a chainsaw to a tree, it's hard to say that a show provides biting social commentary and meta humor.

But that's OK. Sometimes it's nice to have a fun, well-acted, pleasant sitcom both about and for the family.

Based on the real-life story of show creator DJ Nash, "Growing Up Fisher" focuses on a slightly quirky family. Leading the oddness is J.K. Simmons ("The Closer") as Mel Fisher, a highly successful lawyer who is blind but refuses to let that be a factor in his life. Seriously, the guy doesn't tell clients he can't see and occasionally drives a car. At the beginning of the show, Mel and his wife Joyce ( Jenna Elfman, "Dharma and Greg") get a divorce, essentially so they can each find themselves.

For Joyce, this means revisiting her adolescence -- much to the chagrin of teen daughter Katie ( Ava Deluca-Verley). For Mel, this means literally finding his way around with the help of a new guide dog -- much to the chagrin of son Henry ( Eli Baker), who previously helped his dad navigate the world.

That's pretty much it for earth-shaking plot development. Instead, "Growing Up Fisher" focuses on the little things that make family life funny. Not much is likely to shock the audience, but there are plenty of laughs brought by nice people. So who cares? Sometimes, audiences just want to be happy.

The only slightly jarring note of the show is a "Wonder Years"-style narration by Jason Bateman (who's also an executive producer of the show). Spoken in the past tense, it might take a viewer a little while to realize that this story takes place in the present day. It fits OK once this realization is reached, but the transition can be a little confusing.

Will "Growing Up Fisher" be a success? It's hard to say. If latched onto by the family-viewing audience, it has a good shot. But will those viewers be looking for a family comedy at 9:30 p.m. on NBC?

For the sake of a funny and utterly nice comedy, let's hope so.

"Growing Up Fisher" premieres Sunday, Feb. 23 after the Olympics closing ceremony. It premieres in its regular time slot Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

Photo/Video credit: NBC
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