J.K. Simmons can be a warm paternal presence, a comedic force, a terrifying human monster, or a wry closing-pitcher fifth wheel to the nominal protagonists. (See, respectively: the dad in Juno, J. Jonah Jameson in the Spider-Man trilogy, Schillinger on Oz, his recurring role as a psychiatrist in the Law & Orderverse.) To the extent that NBC’s new comedy Growing Up Fisher works at all, it works because of Simmons. The show is based on the actual life story of creator DJ Nash, and it’s narrated by an older version of his onscreen surrogate Henry (Eli Baker) — although it’s set in the modern day in a hyper-specific geographic location known as Sitcomlandia.
The premiere sets up two concepty pitches for the show — dad is blind, the parents are getting a divorce — and strives hard to establish that Henry is on a Wonder Years-esque Coming of Age Journey, complete with Jason Bateman in the Daniel Stern narration role. (“Sometimes the tough moments in life make way for greater things you can imagine” is something that Bateman actually has to narrate.) But the focus is always on Simmons: It’s like The Wonder Years if the only interesting character was the dad. READ FULL STORY