Tuesday, September 29, 2015

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

Grandfathered

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.

Analysis:

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.

Conclusion:

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

    Preview:





  • 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.


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Thursday, April 19

    The Big Bang Theory - "The Comet Polarization" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    Sheldon’s comic book store experiences changes when writer Neil Gaiman puts Stuart’s store on the map. Also, Koothrappali takes credit for Penny’s astronomical discovery, and friendships are threatened.

    Young Sheldon - "Gluons, Guacamole, and the Color Purple" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    When Sheldon is no longer academically challenged at Medford High, he audits a college class taught by Dr. John Sturgis (Wallace Shawn).

    Mom - "Spaghetti Sauce and a Dumpster Fire" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    Christy considers getting a new sponsor, Nora (Yvette Nicole Brown), after witnessing Marjorie have a major meltdown in a grocery store, and Bonnie tries her hand at being a supportive friend.

    Life in Pieces - "Portrait Plagiarism Renter Scam" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    When Jen is offered a custom painting as payment from a hot new artist, she is thrilled until she sees the final product. Also, Sophia convinces Matt and Colleen to use her idea for a children’s book but it isn’t a new concept; Tyler and Clementine advertise their tiny house as a rental property; and John and Joan fall prey to a sleazy IRS scam.

    Superstore - "Gender Reveal" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    The store hosts a gender reveal party for Glenn (Mark McKinney) and his wife Jerusha (Kerri Kenney), just as Dina (Lauren Ash) is freaking out at the realities of having to deliver a baby. Meanwhile, Amy (America Ferrera) receives some unsettling news.

    A.P. Bio - "Eight Pigs and a Bat" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    When one of Jack's (Glenn Howerton) students anonymously reports him for canceling their much-anticipated fetal pig dissection, he sets out to find the snitch. Durbin's (Patton Oswalt) chances at Principal of the Year are in jeopardy when the superintendent visits.

    Will & Grace - "The Wedding" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    Will (Eric McCormack), Grace (Debra Messing), Jack (Sean Hayes), and Karen (Megan Mullally) attend the wedding of Will's ex-boyfriend, Vince (special guest star Bobby Cannavle). While Grace tries to keep Will from making a scene, Jack learns that his wedding hook-up has many strings attached.

    Champions - "Grandma Dearest" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    Vince begrudgingly reconnects with his mother, Gayle (Carolyn Hennesy), so Michael can complete a school project.

    Nobodies - "Double Fault" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
    Rachel and Hugh enlist the help of Blaine Kaine to break some unfortunate news to Larry; Mark-Paul, Sam, Rachel and Hugh have a tennis double date; Larry is forced to move in with Pat after Jen kicks him out.

    Atlanta - "Woods" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
    It is believed wealth has something to do with Paper Boi's attitude.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 16)

    Thursday, April 19

    • Tina Fey (30 Rock) - Catch Tina on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
    • Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie) - Edie appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
    • Busy Philipps (Vice Principals/Cougar Town) - Busy is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Jason Sudeikis (Son of Zorn/The Last Man on Earth/The Cleveland Show) - Jason stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
    • Malin Akerman (Trophy Wife/Sin City Saints) - Malin visits Conan at 11pm on TBS.
    • Erica Ash (Survivor's Remorse) - Erica guest co-hosts The Real, so check your local listings.
    • Shiri Appleby (Sunday Dinner/Knight & Daye) - Shiri talks about Lifetime's UnREAL on Steve, so check your local listings.
    • Rory Scovel (Ground Floor) - Rory talks about I Feel Pretty on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
    • Eddie Leavy (A.P. Bio) - Eddie talks about A.P. Bio on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
    • Cedric the Entertainer (The Soul Man/The Steve Harvey Show) - Cedric is a guest on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (February/March/April)

    Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Seventh Season Green Acres - The Complete Fifth Season Mayberry R.F.D. - The Complete First Season One Day at a Time - Season Two Perfect Strangers  - The Complete Third Season

    02/06 - All in the Family - Seasons 1-5
    02/06 - Bosom Buddies - The Complete Series
    02/06 - Women of the House - Complete 12 Episode Series
    02/13 - Broad City - Season 4
    02/13 - Three's Company - The Complete Series - Come and Knock on Our Door Collection
    02/27 - Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Seventh Season
    02/27 - Green Acres - The Complete Fifth Season
    02/27 - Mayberry R.F.D. - The Complete First Season
    03/06 - Atlanta - The Complete First Season
    03/06 - Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Complete Ninth Season
    03/13 - The New Adventures of Old Christine - The Complete First Season
    03/27 - One Day at a Time - Season Two
    04/03 - Ballers - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
    04/03 - 90's Sitcom (Just Shoot Me!/The Larry Sanders Show/Wings) Starter Set - Season 1 & 2 Bundle
    04/10 - Vice Principals - The Compelte Series
    04/17 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Third Season
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest