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.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (December/January)

    American Dad! - Volume 11 Newhart - The Complete Seventh Season I Love Lucy - Superstar Special #2 (Colorized) The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume Two Hooperman - Season One

    12/06 - Family Guy - Season Fourteen
    12/13 - American Dad! - Volume 11
    12/13 - Newhart - The Complete Seventh Season
    01/03 - Girls - The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray)
    01/10 - Broad City - Season 3
    01/17 - I Love Lucy - Superstar Special #2 (Colorized)
    01/17 - The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume One
    01/17 - The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume Two
    01/24 - Hooperman - Season One
    01/24 - Hooperman - Season Two
    01/31 - Ballers - The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Wednesday, January 18

    Fresh Off the Boat - "Clean Slate" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    On the eve of Chinese New Year, Jessica pushes the entire family to settle all debts, disputes and grudges to ensure good fortune for the coming year. Unsure if she can contain her temper for the remainder of the day, Jessica enlists Emery to makes sure she keeps her cool. Meanwhile, Louis and Evan go on a wild goose chase to hunt down some hate mail, and Eddie is forced to entertain his super lame cousin.

    Speechless - " S-I-- SICK D-A-- DAY" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    When Maya gets sick, Jimmy is forced to be the mom of the house, and Dylan becomes Kenneth’s replacement for JJ when Kenneth also gets sick. Jimmy ends up doing well with Maya’s normal duties, but he tries to keep it from her to avoid her feeling bad. Meanwhile, JJ protects Dylan from a boy she’s interested in. And despite its illness, the family bands together and pulls an all-nighter to finish Ray’s school project.

    Modern Family - "Halloween 4: The Revenge of Rod Skyhook" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    Luke’s Halloween party isn’t the monster bash he dreamed of and is at risk of having the worst party of the year. Sensing trouble, the rest of the Dunphy’s realize all his party needs is a visit from Rod Skyhook, a little promotion and some adult supervision to get it started. Meanwhile at the Tucker-Pritchett home, Cam faces off with his Halloween nemesis while Lily and Mitchell try to save the day and work to keep him from going to the darkside. Finally, when Jay finds out that Manny is going to a party at the home of an old enemy, he enlists him to deliver a trick he will never forget.

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    Bow convinces a begrudging Dre to try therapy, and he learns how to cope with his anger issues. Meanwhile, Johan becomes a life coach to the kids.

    It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - "Old Lady House: A Situation Comedy" (FXX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
    Charlie thinks Mac's mom is holding his mom hostage so the gang installs spy cameras in their house to monitor what's going on. What they end up discovering is the moms are quite entertaining once Dennis makes some quick edits and adds a laugh track to the surveillance footage. Dee wants in on the new hit show and Frank becomes obsessed with banging Charlie's mom now that he's seen her on TV.

    Man Seeking Woman - "Horse" (FXX, 10:30PM ET/PT)
    Lucy attempts to forge a relationship with Josh's best friend Mike.

    Schitt's Creek - "The Throuple" (Pop, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    David and Stevie try to come to terms with their new relationship; Alexis and Moira plan a mother/daughter lunch.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 16)

    Wednesday, January 18

    • Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs/Rules of Engagement/Reno 911!) - Watch Wendi on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Nick visits The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC. He also talks about The Founder on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am and on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
    • Louie Anderson (Baskets/Life with Louie/The Louie Show) - Louie appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He also joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
    • Michael Keaton (Working Stiffs/All's Fair) - Michael is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
    • Woody Harrelson (Cheers) - Woody stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) - Eric appears on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
    • Ted Danson (The Good Place/Becker/Cheers) - Ted visits Conan at 11pm on TBS.
    • Judah Friedlander (30 Rock) - Judah is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
    • Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother/Stark Raving Mad/Doogie Howser, M.D.) and B.J. Novak (The Office) - Neil and B.J. are guests on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo. Neil can also be heard on The Morning Mash Up on SiriusXM at 10:20am.
    • Jerry O'Connell (We Are Men/Carpoolers/My Secret Identity) - Jerry and his wife Rebecca Romijn chat with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
    • Christian Slater (Breaking In) - Christian guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
    • Matt LeBlanc (Man with a Plan/Episodes/Friends) - Matt appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
    • Patrick Warburton (Crowded/Rules of Engagement/Less Than Perfect) - Patrick is a guest on Harry, so check your local listings.
    • Kirstie Alley (Cheers/Veronica's Closet/Kirstie) - Kirstie dishes about the new season of Scream Queens and her weight loss with Jenny Craig on The Wendy Williams Show at 2am on BET or on your local stations.