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TV Series Review

When you're a kid, you think your parents watch every little step you take. It's like they have eyes in the back of their head. And that's true even if they're totally blind.

In the Fisher family, that blind parent who sees more than you'd think is Mel, one of the more insightful blind guys you'll ever, um, see. He doesn't let a little thing like ocular impairment get him down. He'll chop down trees like Paul Bunyan, throw a football like Paul Hornung (yeah, Hornung was a running back; that's part of the point here) and teach his daughter to drive like Paul Newman. He never even told his courtroom colleagues—or anyone else outside the family, for that matter—he was blind until just recently. If you think you're going to pull one over on the guy, think again. He and his new guide dog, Elvis, make a formidable pair, and he'd tell you pretty forcibly that Jacob never would've gotten Esau's birthright with him in charge.

This is not to say Mel is perfect. Nor is he shepherding the perfect family. He's separated from his wife now, for one. And maybe that's partly because Joyce likes to think of herself as her kids' best friend—a hip, empathetic, overgrown teen in mom jeans.

Katie, the actual teen in the Fisher family, sometimes plays divide-and-conquer with her parents, while younger brother Henry does his best to just ride out all the insanity, aided and abetted by buddy (and perhaps future juvenile delinquent) Runyen.

"My family's a circus with a blind ringmaster," Henry admits.

And yet, for all their collective quirks and divisions, the Fishers may have netted what it means to be a loving family.

Growing Up Fisher, a 2014 midseason replacement show co-produced by Arrested Development's Jason Bateman and directed by Friends alum David Schwimmer, is both sweet and quirky. It's stocked with loving, caring characters who try to do the right thing (mostly). And, even when things go awry, kids and parents alike find a way to muddle through and make up at the end.

Like the Fishers themselves, the show has its problems. Mel and Joyce's decision to separate comes off as frivolous and wholly unnecessary. And episodes can deal with some ticklish subjects, ranging from underage drinking to drugs to sex. (Sometimes the themes related to these issues are right on. Sometimes they're askew.) A bit of mild profanity hops into the dialogue now and then.

It's an imperfect show about an imperfect family that gets it right, then gets it wrong, then giggles about it for a while before sharing a big group hug.

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Episode Reviews

Growing-Up-Fisher: 4-1-2014
Growing-Up-Fisher: 3-18-2014



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J.K. Simmons as Mel Fisher; Jenna Elfman as Joyce Fisher; Eli Baker as Henry Fisher; Ava Deluca-Verley as Katie Fisher; Lance Lim as Runyen; Jason Bateman as Narrator






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