Reel trouble for family show…

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TO jenna Chris Haston/NBC Jenna Elfman

PERSONAL tales do make the best stimulant for TV offerings. Chris Rock was a hit with Everybody Hates Chris. And creator Adam Goldberg revisited his childhood in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, with The Goldbergs, which is loosely based on his life. Now DJ Nash follows suit with Growing Up Fisher. Although, it isn’t half as good as the other shows.

At the heart of the comedy are the Fishers: lawyer dad Mel (JK Simmons), mother Joyce (Jenna Elfman), son Henry (Eli Baker) and daughter Katie (Ava Deluca-Verley). The plot – a really preposterous one at that – centres on the hilarity stemming from Mel and Joyce’s lives after divorcing. Henry feels a bit redundant now that he’s been replaced by guide dog Elvis, while Katie is totally embarrassed by her mother’s adolescent behaviour.

Although fans of Simmons will enjoy the character depiction shift from his serious role in Law & Order, Elfman’s character doesn’t instil much confidence in her acting choices since Dharma & Greg.

While that show cemented her success in TV, she’s meandered her way through mostly cameo roles (1600 Penn and Damages notwithstanding)… until now.

Look, Elfman has proved her knack for comedy, but her exploits as a divorcee rekindling her youthful fancies are just embarrassing – and not in a Cougar Town fashion either.

On her character’s storyline, Elfman told Assignment X: “The divorce was mutual. She wants to be able to actually shine because she was very young, she was someone’s daughter and then someone’s wife. She got pregnant on the second date. She couldn’t ever grow – she was married to an extremely blind and charming, but dominant man. She was always serving and serving.

“DJ always said he couldn’t believe what his mum just said. She kind of sees life through a keyhole and her journey is to expand that.”

But while Joyce is completely devoted to her children, her skills of perception are lacking when it comes to social cues now that she is starting over.

As a mother of two in real life, Elfman tapped into her maternal knowledge for this role. But there’s one hitch – the story was dead in the water. The premise doesn’t scream refreshing or plausible. Instead, it has a boomerang effect of cynical and gauche. And the actors are saddled with, for lack of a better word, “dud” characters. Heck, even Anger Management has more substance in terms of the writing material and cast.

Sometimes fiction is stranger than fact – Growing Up Fisher has established this. And the network responded by cancelling it. Looks like the creator might need to fish deeper for ideas for his next project. Come to think of it, Elfman should, too!

• Growing Up Fisher, M-Net Series Showcase (DStv channel 113), Fridays, 7.30pm.


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