“Cynicism be gone!” Jason Bateman told TV critics during NBC’s Q&A session for new comedy Growing Up Fisher about a kid who played a large role in helping his father cover up his blindness until dad gets a guide dog when his parents divorce. (Watch trailer below) It’s based on the actual childhood of show creator/exec producer DJ Nash — including the pilot scene in which Dad, played by J.K. Simmons, cuts down a tree in the yard with a chainsaw while asking family members where the house is relative to the tree. Even so, TV critics at Winter TV Press Tour 2014 had trouble with the concept, and with the tone.
“Where’s the tears and the drama?” one critic asked of the pilot. It’s a comedy. Batemen, who exec produces and is The Voiceover Guy on the show, said they made a conscious decision to do Growing Up as a family show but with a new take and less treacle, so as to appeal to today’s maybe more cynical TV viewer.
NBC will preview Growing Up Fisher on February 23 at 10:30 PM, following the Sochi Games Closing Ceremonies. (Following the 2012 debacle when a preview of new NBC comedy Animal Practice aired before the end of the Olympics closing ceremony, Greenblatt today promised no interruption this time.) After that, it will be paired in the Tuesday 9 PM block with About A Boy, following The Voice, starting February 25.
One critic, who noted NBC’s Olympics coverage probably will include “300 promotional spots” for the show, wondered if the producers worried there would be backlash from viewers who felt the show was being “shoved down their throats.”