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 (April/May/June)

    Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season Father Knows Best - Season Five The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Second Season ALF - The Complete DVD Collection The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - The Complete Series

    04/04 - Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season
    04/11 - Father Knows Best - Season Five
    04/11 - Schitt's Creek - The Complete Third Season
    04/11 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
    04/11 - Veep - The Complete Fifth Season
    05/02 - Red, White and Blue Collar Sitcoms - Make TV Great Again
    05/09 - ALF - The Complete DVD Collection
    05/09 - Divorce - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
    05/09 - The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Second Season
    05/16 - The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - The Complete Series
    06/13 - The Andy Griffith Show - Return to Mayberry
    06/13 - That's My Mama - The Complete Series
    06/20 - Workaholics - The Final (Seventh) Season
    06/20 - Workaholics - The Complete Series
    06/27 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Third Season
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Monday, July 24

    Kevin Can Wait - "Kevin's Bringing Supper Back" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    Kevin’s resolve to spend more quality time with his family is put to the ultimate test when his buddies surprise him with concert tickets to his favorite musician, fellow Long Islander Billy Joel. Multiple Grammy Award-winning pianist, singer and songwriter Billy Joel appears as himself.

    Man with a Plan - "Kate's First Date" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    When Kate is asked out on her first date, Adam can’t curb his overprotective ways. Also, Don enlists Lowell’s help to buy the perfect anniversary gift for Marcy.

    Mom - "Martinis and a Sponge Bath" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
    When Christy and Adam get into a car accident, Bonnie is hurt to discover she is neither of their emergency contacts. Wendie Malick returns as Adam’s ex-wife, Danielle.

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    When Colleen teaches Matt her frugal ways, he gets hooked when he realizes how much saving money turns her on. Also, Tim attempts to fire Heather from her receptionist position at his office, John tries to break Sophia’s fear of flying by taking her for a quick flight on a small plane, and Jen plans a quiet affair for Lark’s first birthday, until the family takes over the celebration.

    American Dad - "The Life and Times of Stan Smith" (TBS, 10:00PM ET/PT)
    Stan becomes addicted to dying after Roger tricks him into thinking he had a heart attack; Klaus takes Steve to Arizona State University for a college visit, where a fraternity hazes him.

    People of Earth - "New Beginnings" (TBS, 10:30PM ET/PT)
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    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of July 24)

    Monday, July 24

    • Rob Lowe (The Grinder/Parks and Recreation) - Watch Rob on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC. He will be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am. Rob and his sons, Matthew and John Owen, chat with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT. They also talk about The Lowe Files on the AOL Build Show at 2pm.
    • Laura Benanti (Go On/Starved) - Laura appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
    • Jane Lynch (Angel from Hell) - Jane stops by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
    • Anna Faris (Mom) - Anna is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Jenny Slate (Married/Parks and Recreation) - Jenny drops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Ron Funches (Powerless/Undateable) - Ron appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
    • Brandy (Zoe Ever After/The Game/Moesha/Thea) - Brandy guest co-hosts The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Kirstie Alley (Kirstie/Veronica's Closet/Cheers) - Kirstie is a guest on a repeat of Harry, so check your local listings.
    • Nia Long (Uncle Buck/The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) - Nia appears on a repeat of Harry, so check your local listings.
    • Emeril Lagasse (Emeril) - Emeril crashes a cooking class on a repeat of Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
    • Tracey Gold (Growing Pains) - Tracey makes cherry pie filling cake on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
    • Ana Gasteyer (People of Earth/Lady Dynamite/Suburgatory) - Ana talks about People of Earth on NBC's Today in the 10am hour and on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
    • Patti LaBelle (Out All Night) - Patti performs a jazz song on a repeat of Steve Harvey, so check your local listings.
    • Jennie Garth (What I Like About You) - Jennie shows off her favorite RVs on Fox and Friends on Fox News Channel at 7:52am.