All pictures courtesy of FOX
Before we dive in, as always, I'd point you to the #Premiere Week button up top to get my initial thoughts on this series. Just scroll down to the FOX section (second section I believe) and look for the picture up top. Also, don't be shy in browsing through my previous posts as I cover dozens of shows including American Horror Story: Hotel, Nashville, Castle, Once Upon A Time, The Blacklist, Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder, Limitless, Rosewood, Empire and the list goes on. And to give you a brief recap of what I did feel about this series just in case you don't click that premiere week button, I didn't think highly of it. As was expressed in an earlier post on Grandfathered, I didn't feel that FOX had much trust in either show as I didn't see as much advertising in them as other series. Usually that means the network is iffy on the product they've pushed into production.
So what is The Grinder about? Rob Lowe stars a famous TV actor who for the last near decade or so has played a lawyer on a highly successful and popular show entitled The Grinder. He was The Grinder, known for grinding out his cases and getting wins, and bringing justice. With the show finally ending, he looks to find his next path in life, what will he do, where will he go, who... will he ultimately be. Isn't that the question that (dramatic pause)... we all face? Coming back to the small town where he grew up and where the rest of his family still lives, he hides out there for a while to visit his family and figure out what he wants to do as those royalty checks will stream in for the rest of his life. While there, he comes into contact with his father, brother and his brother's family and there is where the tension starts.
His brother, played by Fred Savage is a real lawyer. Everyone in the family save for him is enthralled with his brother's talent, even watching re-runs of the show (sweet, sweet royalty checks) nearly every night with Rob Lowe providing behind-the-scenes commentary. As much as he loves his brother, Fred is a high-strung, worrywart who is also possibly the "biggest wuss in the history of TV" as he identifies highly with a character from his brother's show who always said just how wrong Grinder was for attempting something--"you're gonna get disbarred, Grinder. You can't do it! This case is un-winnable!" Seeing the show for the overwrought melodrama it is, Fred despises his brother for just about everything that Lowe stands for: bad acting, false lawyering, ridiculous plotting, TV star glamour, etc. And as much as he'd like for him to leave as quickly as possible, the rest of the family enjoy having him around for a while.
It isn't until Lowe stumbles into one of Savage's real cases does the show take off into its main thrust. The case: a wrongful eviction from clients that supposedly never paid their rent. They felt they had been discriminated against due to race. In just meeting the clients, word spread that The Grinder would be trying their case and Lowe not only didn't deny such claims but made declaration that he and his brother would indeed win the case and justice... would be brought to the wrongfully evicted couple, because justice... at least in America... is for all. Yes, if you haven't noticed by now, some of this review/recap syncs with the overly dramatic tone of the show. It is in that tone where the humor lies. Honestly, Rob Lowe really just plays every character (read: the same character) he's been playing for the last decade or so with longer dramatic pauses. Another silly comedy, the hilarity comes from the fact that he takes everything seriously even though the very premise of the show is ridiculous.
With word out that the grinder will be helping his brother try a case, their father steps in to solve the petty sibling squabble that Fred has brought up because of his brother's lack of skills and preparedness and generally anything having to do with actual lawyering. Having immersed himself in the grinder character, Lowe feels he doesn't need law school just to practice law, the show was its own school. He could take the bar exam in a few months and... pass. Being the levelheaded one, Fred says no to all of that and refuses his brother's help. It isn't until they actually show up at court and Lowe watches his inept brother deliver a mumbling speech from note cards about how wrong it is for his clients to have been discriminated against, does The Grinder step in and save the day. It is not that Fred is a bad lawyer, he just gets terrible stage fright.
Not legal in the slightest, he steps in during the next court appearance and, with cameras pointed at him, holds up an envelope with a supposed check from the tenants that had been thrown away by the landlord. Falling for the ruse, the landlord confesses that the check couldn't be in the envelope because he destroyed the check. What is in the envelope? One of the many sayings from the show: "the Grinder rests." A pratfall by Savage and hugs and kisses as The Grinder says goodbye even though he doesn't want to go, and Fred finally invites his older brother to stay around for a while longer. It could be fun.
And this is the show. Their second case, a wrongful termination lawsuit which shouldn't have even been a lawsuit, introduces the audience to a single female lawyer who starts as an opposing counsel and by the end of the show is hired by Savage to fill a roll on his staff. Of course the case is won when grinder and his brother come up with a stalling tactic that tests the patience of the busy employer. Not only does he hire the couple back but changes the no inter-office dating policy. The third episode deals more with personal stuff stemming from a broken window 20 years prior and admitting the truth when wrong. Still, in none of these episodes is the grinder a real lawyer, yet his brother's clients allow him to sit in on the case because he's the frickin' Grinder. Are you saying you wouldn't trust Meredith Grey/Ellen Pompeo to medically save your life if you were having a heart attack in a restaurant. Eleven seasons on a medical show, you would think she knows something about saving lives, right?
What's my grade on when a TV lawyer becomes a real life fake lawyer? I give it a B-. Listen, outside of the great and ridiculous music they play whenever Lowe is about to make some astonishing discovery or suggestion, this show is ridiculous. Though I laughed during it, I didn't get that chuckle until the last five minutes of the first episode, and while the second and third episodes were better, I'm not sure I'd tune in for a full season. Don't worry, I get the humor. It's just as silly as Grandfathered and satirizes the plethora of lawyer and crime shows out there. But I have to say that I was looking forward to how Savage and Lowe played off each other and while Lowe is good, I think Savage is actually bad in this role. He's playing the straight guy but there's something about him that annoys me more than makes me find him sensible. Maybe this just isn't the role I'd like to see him in.
Should you be watching? Eh! Though I gave it a B-, my first reaction is to say no. But comedy is subjective and different things work for different people. In a night that is completely over-the-top humor beginning with Grandfathered and ending with Scream Queens, The Grinder at 8:30 on Tuesdays on FOX fits perfectly with the rest of the shows. Though it's not the case for me, if you like one, you'll probably enjoy the others. If you're not doing anything or you already watch one of the other shows, then I say give this one or three episodes and see if it grabs you.
What do you think? Am I being too harsh on the show? Have you seen it? If so, what do you think about its humor? Do you think Lowe will ever actually take the bar? And what's the over/under for him hooking up with the lawyer woman? Let me know in the comments below (hint: click the no comments button if you see no comments).
Check out my new comedy novel Yep, I'm Totally Stalking, My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking
If you’re looking for Halloween scares check #AFuriousWind, #DARKER, #BrandNewHome or #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic, check out #TheWriter. The full first season is OUT NOW exclusively on Amazon. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right side.
Until next time, “What would you do if I sang outta tune... I get by with a little help from my friends."
P.S. Oh, those wonderful Wonder Years. TV has changed quite a bit since then, especially the family sitcom. Honestly, I've found most family sitcoms not funny these days. So, when one does come along that's hilarious, I'll be sure to shout it from the rooftops. Until then, I'll keep thinking of a better sign-off.
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