If there’s one thing I love, it’s brand new sitcoms. This love often leads to heartbreak, as they, one by one, drop off into the cancellation column never to be seen again. But for now, I’m excited to watch and analyze Grandfathered and The Grinder, letting you know if either are worth your precious 22 minutes.
So we get the set up for this one in like 30 seconds. You really don’t expect us to pay attention longer than that? Take some time and set things up. John Stamos plays Jimmy, hip restaurant owner and ladies man, who has his entire life turned upside down when the full grown son (Gerald, played by Josh Peck) he never knew existed shows up with his own daughter in tow. There you go, that’s your sitcom, let the funny commence.
Thematically, Jimmy holds on to the shortened, youthful version of his name, while Gerald rocks a moniker fit for a baby boomer. The two couldn’t be more different, and I’m sure we’ll be reminded of that every first act for as long as this series is on the air.
The introduction of Christina Milian (Gerald’s baby momma, Vanessa) adds a twist, but its such a sitcom trope: “now they have a reason to hang out every week until Gerald can get the girl of his dreams”. Paget Brewster was brought on to play Gerald’s mother and Jimmy’s old flame (old as in former, not old as in old!), her work on ‘Criminal Minds’ and ‘Community’ have already showcased her amazing range, she may end up becoming the heart and soul of ‘Grandfathered’.
I honestly don’t see this show lasting very long, after one episode ‘Grandfathered’ feels decidedly like the immediately cancelled ‘Ben and Kate’ of 2012. Even with a Bob Saget cameo (which wasn’t even that funny) not too many Americans will be tuning in next week.
This one actually took me by surprise. As much as I (and everyone my age or even more ancient) anxiously awaited Fred Savage’s return to primetime TV, new sitcoms are like newborn babes in the days of Sabretooth tigers and prehensile tails: not likely to last the month. Rob Lowe and Savage are two mismatched brothers taking on the world. While that sounds like just another sitcom, we quickly discover “The Grinder” is a fictional television show within the sitcom in which Lowe’s character, Dean Sanderson, plays a popular TV lawyer known as “The Grinder”. My meta-feels were already tingling.
The storyline in the pilot episode to ‘The Grinder’ actually takes the entire episode to play out, a far cry from the 30 second setup that preceded it. Dean’s uncertainty after the end of his beloved acting gig begins a desire to do “real” good in the “real” world, and he chooses to join his little brother, Stewart (Savage), in the courtroom.
Savage’s character is our everyman, the bumbling lawyer that can’t seem to put down his cue cards until he gets inspiration from his superstar actor brother (see how that works out?). Stewart’s growing annoyance at his cocky brother, Dean’s arc from listlessness to rejuvenation to crushed spirit to cool savior, ‘The Grinder’ builds on itself over the course of the pilot, displaying memorable dimensions to the characters.
‘The Grinder’ will last, at least seeing a second season. It’s ‘New Girl’-esque, even bringing on Mary Elizabeth-Ellis (Nick’s crazy ex) to play Stewart’s wife. The actors have great chemistry, the writing is strong and there’s a power vacuum at Fox with ‘New Girl’ delayed to mid season. All things point to a triumphant run for ‘The Grinder’.