Sunday, 23 August 2015

"The Grinder" buddy lawyer comedy unites Rob Lowe and Fred Savage

TEAM: Andrew Mogul (w, ep), Jarrad Paul (w-ep), Rob Lowe (ep), Nick Stoller (ep), Jake Kasdan (d, ep)
LOGLINE: When TV lawyer Dean Sanderson’s (aka “The Grinder”) long-running hit series comes to an end, he finds himself at a crossroads in life and decides to move back to his small hometown thinking he has the experience to take over his family’s law firm, where he butts heads with his brother.
CAST: Rob Lowe, Fred Savage, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Natalie Morales, William Devane

The Grinder is definitely not the type of sitcom I am usually interested in. Modern day network work place comedies like Parks & Recreation, (which starred Rob Lowe up until it's penultimate season), Brooklyn Nine-Nine, or The Office have  been my choice of comedy. In fact, family comedies like The Wonder Years (which happened to star young Fred Savage) have always sparked my interest most of the time. That's why I originally ignored The Grinder during pilot season until I read the script and saw the trailer. Turns out, The Grinder is an appealing mixture of both family and workplace comedy and all the eccentric and unique conflicts which can arise from having to work with a more popular and famous sibling.
The pilot has lots of energy and Rob Lowe and Fred Savage are an interesting combination who work well together. While Dean Sanderson is a character which we have seen thousands of times before (aka a conceited television personality) Rob Lowe manages to bring a unique interpretation to the screen. Fred Savage's long awaited return to television does not disappoint however, I hope the rest of the series focuses more on the family/workplace dynamic between Dean and Stewart Sanderson rather than Stewart and his wife which, again, is something we have seen a thousand times before and does not add anything special to the show.
While The Grinder is funny (at least, it's funnier than I originally thought) it is not as funny as it thinks it is. And now we have my problem with these modern day workplace comedies. They often come across as overly confident and cocky. The Grinder mimics the Greg Daniels/Dan Schur approach, which does not appeal to me personally and judging by the ratings of Parks & Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, does not appeal to the general public either. Hopefully, by the second episode, the concept will be fully formed and The Grinder manages to become its own entity by taking advantage of the Lowe/Savage combination which, with the right writing and directing, will make for a unique and most importantly, funny weekly viewing.

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