Jack isn’t the only middle-aged TV mister taking on extra child-rearing responsibility. In Growing Up Fisher — also based on a true story, also with look-back narration — J.K. Simmons plays Mel Fisher, an accomplished attorney who must become an even more accomplished father after his wife, Joyce (Jenna Elfman), divorces him so she can find an identity outside of motherhood and marriage. Mel is a formidable parent who puts his kids before work (especially since the divorce) and who has a tendency to use trickery to teach life lessons. Well-meaning deception comes easy to him. Mel is also blind, and he has spent most of his life hiding this fact from people. Incredible. About as incredible as a woman blowing up her family so she can pretend to be 18 again. Nothing here feels authentic or long-run viable, whether it’s cutesy son Henry (Eli Baker) trying to get himself and Dad a girlfriend (the boy’s 11; he should be more concerned with licking Titanfall) or beleaguered daughter Katie (Ava Deluca-Verley) browbeating her mom into mothering her. The cost of this failure is the squandering of Mel and Joyce, interesting characters played by interesting actors. A better show for them might have been made if only Mel had been able to say: ”You’ve had my back for years. Now it’s my turn.” C-
DADS RULE Fisher puts his kids before work, but we aren't in a rush to put Fisher before things on our list. (Colleen Hayes/NBC)
Genre: Comedy; Broadcaster: NBC
Posted April 9 2014 — 12:00 AM EDT
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