Two sweet, funny, even poignant dramedies launch on NBC this weekend, both helping midseason feel richer than the meager offerings of the network’s fall slate.
“About a Boy” premieres locally after the Olympics on Feb. 22 on KUSA and then moves to Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m., and “Growing Up Fisher” premieres after the Olympics on Feb. 23, then moves to Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. Both are smart and rather endearing. The question is, will there be room enough in viewers’ TV regimens for both?
Both half hours include looks back at childhood, one with a voiceover narrator reminiscent of “The Wonder Years.” Both consider the awkwardness of youngsters watching parents re-enter the dating world. Both find joy in human connection.
One has Jenna Elfman (“Dharma & Greg”) as the age-denying mom wearing teen fashions, and J.K. Simmons (“Oz,” “The Closer”) as the blind patriarch.
The other is a remake of the Hugh Grant movie based on the 1998 Nick Hornby novel.
“About a Boy,” from Jason Katims (“Parenthood”) pits an anxious, overprotective and uptight single mom (played by Minnie Driver) against the irresponsible bachelor man-child next door (David Walton). They don’t know it, and would never admit it, but they need each other’s influence in order to best raise her son, Marcus.
Driver (“The Riches”) bangs heads with Walton (“Parenthood”) over the raising of young Marcus, played by Benjamin Stockham (“Once Upon a Time”). Driver is a bundle of nerves as strict vegan helicopter parent Fiona (Toni Collette’s role in the film), hovering over Marcus and loathing her Peter Pan-like neighbor, Will (Walton). Their first clash, over the smell of the carnivore’s grilling meat in the backyard, sets the tone for their non-relationship. A “Parenthood”-”About a Boy” crossover is already planned.
“Growing Up Fisher” is based on the childhood of series creator DJ Nash, whose father went blind and kept it a secret from the family for years. Even some of the most outlandish moments are drawn from his experience, notably the blind dad using a power saw to chop down a tree.
This isn’t a show about the sightless, although Simmons (who is not blind) is terrific at conveying the limits and hurdles. The story is more concerned with the particular challenges of parenting through divorce than with blindness.
These two deserving comedies will potentially get a wide sampling after the Olympics action from Sochi. Here’s further proof that midseason offers more thoughtful fare a chance to thrive.