By Thomas Gillen
After spending the better part of six seasons playing fitness nut and government manager Chris Traegar on Parks and Recreation, Rob Lowe returns to TV this fall as an actor looking for a new life after his TV show goes off the air.
Lowe stars as Dean Sanderson, one half of the Sanderson brothers, an actor who played a lawyer on TV in his hit show The Grinder. Joining Lowe is Fred Savage, who plays Dean’s younger brother, Stewart. Unlike Dean, Stewart became a lawyer and now works at the family’s law firm along with their father.
As the pilot opened on Sept. 29, we see the family watching the series finale of The Grinder. After the episode, Dean explains that he has to find a new path in his life now that his show is over. The next day, Dean, Stewart, and their father travel to the courthouse where Stewart is representing a couple in an eviction case.
At the courthouse, Stewart has to use note cards due to his lack of confidence. After speeding his way through the defense, Dean steps in and suggests taking the case to trial. With this decision, Dean decides to become an actual lawyer and work with his brother and father, much to the disdain of Stewart.
The night before the case, the two brothers have a fight and Dean announces he will leave the next morning.
The next day, Dean hangs out at a bar and was convinced by a bartender to go to the courthouse, thus The Grinder comes to the rescue. Dean then takes over the courtroom and breaks every rule in the book, thereby giving Stewart the confidence to finish the job. At the end of the episode, Dean is ready to leave and move on with his life, but Stewart asks him to stay and work with him.
Like any comedic pilot, good and bad jokes find their way throughout the script. The more successful ones involve meta humor, where the characters make illusions to the fact that they are in a television show. One joke in particular that stood out was when Rob Lowe gets to repeat his “Literally!” catchphrase from Parks and Recreation one more time.
Overall, the episode was enjoyable and contained enough humor to keep it entertaining and fresh. The Grinder is just one of 33 new shows premiering this fall. Let’s hope The Grinder can sustain enough momentum to make viewing the show a pleasant experience.
New episodes of The Grinder will air on Tuesday nights at 8:30 p.m. on Fox.