Friday, October 2, 2015

Pilot Review: The Grinder

The Grinder (FOX)
Premiered September 29 at 8:30pm

On his last three major shows, Rob Lowe submitted himself for Emmy consideration in the lead actor category despite really being a supporting member of the ensemble. It’s fitting that Lowe’s newest show gives him his first inarguable lead role in over a decade, when “Dr. Vegas” lasted one short season. It’s also the perfect part for him, a combination of the eternal optimist he played on “Parks and Recreation” and his zany method actor from “Californication.” He’s well-paired with Fred Savage, who I remember from his last regular TV gig, on “Crumbs” in 2006, who is the straight man to his onscreen brother’s dramatic big star who played a lawyer on TV and seems to have quite an easy time pretending to be one in real life too. The show is definitely ridiculous and over-the-top, but it’s also pretty funny, with both Lowe’s Dean Jr. and Savage’s Stewart proving to be likeable. I like seeing recognizable TV players William Devane and Mary Elizabeth Ellis as their father and Stewart’s wife, respectively, and it’s good that Stewart isn’t made out to be all on his own, getting support from his wife and even some overdramatic recognition of his feelings from his brother. Like “Grandfathered” before it, this pilot mostly contained scenes previewed in full in the series trailer, and so I’m looking forward to seeing how this show operates in normal mode now that Dean Jr. is back in town for good and prepping extensively to take and likely pass with flying colors the bar exam.

How will it work as a series? This show has to balance its absurdity with reasonable plotlines, allowing people to gush over Dean Jr. in court, including the judge, but ensuring that the case being presented isn’t too far-fetched and that the verdict isn’t too idiotic. I don’t think that’s too tall an order.
How long will it last? The ratings were good enough for what FOX has come to expect in this time period, and this show seems to have found favor with critics. Based on that, I’d say it’s one of the likelier shows to get picked up for a second season, probably with its time slot companion, “Grandfathered.”

Pilot grade: B

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