Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Fox Fall Pilot Review: The Grinder - Premieres Tuesday, Sept. 29; TeenNick Launches The Splat Block with Classic Nick Series


The Grinder - Tuesdays at 8:30PM ET/PT on Fox
Premieres Tuesday, September 29, 2015 at 8:30PM ET/PT

by Skees

Stewart Sanderson and his father are the perfect father-son team when it comes to running their law office. They also have the experience and hard work to back them up. But things abruptly change when Stewart's brother Dean (who decided to become an actor instead of a lawyer, though he played one on TV) rolls into town following the cancellation of his hit series. Things change even more when Dean decides that he too wants in on the family business, and that he knows how to be a lawyer because he played one on TV... and he is going to become part of that family business whether Stewart likes it or not.

Cast Details:

Rob Lowe as Dean Sanderson, Jr.
Fred Savage as Stewart Sanderson
Mary Elizabeth Ellis as Debbie Sanderson
William Devane as Dean Sanderson, Sr.
Hana Hayes as Lizzie Sanderson
Connor Kalopsis as Ethan Sanderson

Rob Lowe (Dean Sanderson, Jr.) is an established star with appearances in films such as The Outsiders, St. Elmo's Fire, and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, but he has also had plenty of supporting roles in series such as The West Wing, Brothers & Sisters, and Parks and Recreation. He also starred in the short-lived series The Lyon's Den, where he played an attorney.

Fred Savage (Stewart Sanderson) is best known as Kevin Arnold from The Wonder Years. He also appeared in the films Little Monsters and The Wizard. In recent years, he hasn't been doing quite as much acting, and has shifted his focus to directing TV series, where he has directed episodes of series such as Modern Family, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, 2 Broke Girls, and many other series. However, he did appear in the short-lived sitcom Crumbs.

Mary Elizabeth Ellis (Debbie Sanderson) is best known for her role on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. She also appeared as a regular in the NBC series Perfect Couples.

William Devane (Dean Sanderson, Sr.) is best known for his role of Greg Sumner on the long-running primetime soap opera Knots Landing. After that series ended, he starred alongside Judith Light in the ABC sitcom Phenom. He also appeared in short-lived sitcoms including The Michael Richards Show and Crumbs (another series in which he played the father of a character played by Fred Savage).

Natalie Morales (Claire) is best known for her roles in The Middleman, White Collar, and Parks and Recreation.

Hana Hayes (Lizzie Sanderson) is a 16 year old actress who has appeared in Criminal Minds, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Mercy, and Grey's Anatomy.

Connor Kalopsis (Ethan Sanderson) has appeared in several episodes of Days of Our Lives.

Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" (Airs September 29 at 8:30PM ET)

Dean Sanderson Jr. plays the lead role of a powerful attorney in the fictitious series The Grinder, but the series has ended after a long run, and now he finds himself back in his hometown in Idaho. Back home, his father and brother are attorneys, but not necessarily the best, as they prefer to settle cases out of court to avoid having to go to trial. Now, Dean wants in on the family business, and he is convinced that he can get the job done perfectly while aggressively fighting cases in the courtroom... based solely upon his experience from playing an attorney on television.


So many series that are out there these days are just a new look at a series that existed before it. A nice thing about this series is that it is something sort of fresh and new. That can often tend to be risky when developing a series, since there haven't been any similar series with proven success, but fortunately, this series has a cast that will at least garner some attention at the beginning.

The pilot is funny, but the comedy is by no means a fast-paced "big laughs" comedy. There is a lot of subtle humor and things are rather slow-paced, but there is enough comedy in the mix that you know that you're watching a sitcom. The biggest laughs in the pilot came from Dean's action in the courtroom as an attorney... or at least playing his role in real life.

I really like the cast, and the roles are cast perfectly. In particular, Rob Lowe's character of Dean reminds me quite a bit of his role as Chris Traeger on Parks & Recreation, in the sense that he is a sort of cartoonish person living a different reality from everybody else around him. Fred Savage is perfect in his role of Stewart, playing the guy with great book smarts (but not so much street smarts). The remainder of the cast didn't seem to have a chance flourish much in the pilot, which is understandable since the stars are the two brothers, but from what was seen in the pilot, everybody seemed to be well cast.

One thing I have to wonder about, though, is that if this series is a hit, how long will Rob Lowe want to stick around? He has been lucky enough to have roles on three hit series so far, and he has left all of them before they ended. Maybe things will be different here since he is essentially the star of this series (he wasn't on the other three) and since he is executive producer, but of course, the series would first have to prove to be a success before we can even think about this.


It's hard to make any strong conclusions about this particular series based upon the first episode. I sort of liked the pilot, but it isn't clear yet exactly where the series is headed. In particular, I wonder how the series will deal with the fact that Dean isn't a real lawyer. It seems that in order for the series to proceed and for him to truly play his role, he'll have to become a lawyer, but some of the comedy in the pilot came from the fact that he wasn't a lawyer.

This isn't really a flashy show, but it sort of has the charm that seems like it could work for the Fox lineup. The nice thing about having previously-established cast is that it will at least give the show some attention for the first episode or two and will be given a fair chance by fans before the future is decided.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 3.5/5
Funniness: 2.5/5
Overall: 3/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 at 8:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • Fox.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • The Grinder Photo Gallery


  • The Splat

    Millennials who crave the iconic Nickelodeon shows of their childhood, including Kenan & Kel, Rugrats, Hey Arnold! and more, can rejoice. Starting Monday, Oct. 5, Nickelodeon will throw back to the '90s every day with the launch of "The Splat," a new multiscreen content destination spanning television, seven social media platforms and a dedicated web site aggregating the most loved Nick content from the 1990s and beyond. "The Splat" will dive deep to create a retro experience filled with landmark Nickelodeon programs; classic programming stunts like Nick or Treat, U-Pick and Super Toy Run; the recreation of specific days of programming as they aired in the '90s; and original promos and interstitials, including the Doo-wop Dinosaurs and the Opera Lady. "The Splat" will roar to life across all platforms on Monday, Oct. 5, launching that night on television on TeenNick from 10 p.m. - 6 a.m. (ET/PT). The TV block will be an eight-hour rotating TV lineup airing daily on TeenNick from 10 p.m.-6 a.m. (ET/PT). "The Splat's" rotating TV lineup on TeenNick will have weekly themes and monthly programming stunts featuring hit '90s animated and live-action series including All That, Angry Beavers, Are You Afraid of the Dark, CatDog, Clarissa Explains It All, Hey Arnold!, Hey Dude, Kenan & Kel, Ren & Stimpy, Legends of the Hidden Temple, Rocko's Modern Life, Rugrats, Salute Your Shorts and The Wild Thornberrys, with additional series rolling out throughout the year. At launch, "The Splat" will feature themed weeks and stunts like:

    · First Time for Everything (week of Oct. 5) - first two episodes of fan-favorite animated and live-action series and game shows
    · Rugrats Reptar Takeover (week of Oct. 12) - best of Rugrats episodes featuring Reptar
    · Hey Arnold! Live from the Stoop (week of Oct. 19) - Stoop Kid-centric episodes
    · Nick or Treat (week of Oct. 26) - call-in event where lucky callers get 40 seconds to choose from six doors, collecting tricks and treats along the way, plus scary and spooky themed animation episodes.

    New on DVD/Blu-ray (September)

    The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season Modern Family - The Complete Season 7

    09/06 - Coach - Season One (Mill Creek) / Season Two / Seasons One and Two
    09/06 - South Park - The Complete Ninteenth Season (Blu-ray)
    09/13 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season (Blu-ray)
    09/13 - Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season
    09/20 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season
    09/20 - Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season
    09/20 - Modern Family - The Complete Season 7
    09/20 - Veep - Season 5
    09/27 - The Wonder Years - Season Six
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest

    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Friday, October 21

    Last Man Standing - "Trick or Treat" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    It’s Halloween and the Baxter family is excited for their annual party, except for Mike who’s reluctantly tasked with choosing the theme. In hopes of turning everyone against the holiday, Mike decides that maybe if the whole family has to dress up like each other they’ll end up making fun of one another. Eve dresses up like Mandy and Mandy dresses down like Eve, Kristin and Ryan swap roles, and Mike shows up to the party as… Donald Trump!? The impersonating turns into bickering but in the end, the Baxters come together to support Vanessa as she learns that she’s being laid off.

    Dr. Ken - "D.K.'s Korean Ghost Story" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    On Halloween, Allison is disappointed the holiday doesn’t seem to scare Dave anymore, meaning her little boy is growing up, perhaps too fast. But that might change after D.K. tells a scary Korean gwishin (ghost) story. The Park family, as well as the gang at Welltopia, bring the story to life playing the various gwishins.

    Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse - "Jack" (OWN, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    Marcus deals with the loss of one of his former teammates.

    Complete TV Listings

    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 17)

    Friday, October 21

    • Matthew Perry (The Odd Couple/Go On/Mr. Sunshine) - Watch Matthew on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Jerry Seinfeld (Seinfeld) - Jerry appears on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
    • Matt LeBlanc (Man with a Plan/Episodes/Joey/Friends) - Matt is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
    • Elijah Wood (Wilfred) - Elijah talks about Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings. He will also be on the AOL Build Show at 1:15pm.
    • Lindsay Sloane (The Odd Couple/The Stones/Mr. Rhodes) - Lindsay visits Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
    • Tom Hanks (Bosom Buddies) and Ron Howard (Happy Days/The Andy Griffith Show) - Tom and Ron will be on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
    • Christian Slater (Breaking In) - Christian talks about King Cobra on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
    • Anna Camp (The Mindy Project) - Anna talks about Netflix's Good Girls Revolt on NBC's Today in the 10am hour. She will also be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
    • Jennifer Grey (Red Oaks/It's Like, You Know...) - Jennifer joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
    • Thomas Lennon (The Odd Couple/Sean Saves the World/Reno 911!) and Jason Biggs (Mad Love/Drexell's Class) - Thomas and Jason are guests on Chelsea on Netflix.
    • Marisa Tomei (A Different World) - Marisa appears on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
    • Paul Reiser (Red Oaks/Mad About You/The Paul Reiser Show) - Paul is a guest on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.