Fall TV Preview
The Grinder Preview Rob Lowe

Fall TV First Impression: The Grinder

The broadcast networks have more than 20 shows debuting this fall, including a soaring Supergirl, reborn Heroes, reanimated Muppets and sexy Scream Queens. To help you prep, TVLine is offering First Impressions of the not-for-review pilots.

Next up on our list….

PHOTOS Fall TV Preview: Your Guide to What’s New!

THE SHOW | Fox’s The Grinder (Tuesdays at 8:30/7:30c, premiering Sept. 29)

THE COMPETITION | CBS’ NCIS, NBC’s The Voice, The CW’s The Flash and ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat

THE CAST | Rob Lowe (Parks and Recreation), Fred Savage (The Wonder Years), Mary Elizabeth Ellis (It’s Always Sunny…), William Devane (24), Natalie Morales (Trophy Wife), Hana Hayes and Connor Kalopsis (Days of Our Lives)

THE SET-UP | Lowe winningly stars as Dean Sanderson, a beloved actor who has just wrapped an eight-season TV run as a legal eagle dubbed “The Grinder.” During a return home to Idaho, Dean comes to wonder if a legit legal career is in his future — much to the amusement/amazement of his lawyer brother Stew (Savage).

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THE FIRST IMPRESSION | The gist of The Grinder is boiled down in a highly amusing scene where Dean argues: “If you had a heart attack in a restaurant, wouldn’t you want to have Noah Wyle at the next table?” And it’s surely a ripe premise for a TV comedy, exploring just how much — and how very little, in the way of accuracy — an actor learns as he inhabits such a role for a length of time.

Still looking very Kevin Arnold, Savage is a terrific foil for Lowe, as Stew is frequently floored by both his bro’s obliviousness to reality and others‘ obliviousness to said obliviousness. Ellis gets to walk a fine line as Stew’s supportive wife who used to date the dazzling ‘n’ dynamic Dean, and TV can never have too much William Devane. Morales doesn’t get much to do in the pilot (as the Sandersons’ paralegal), while Kalopsis stands out as Stew’s son, whom “The Grinder” represents during a tense “negotiation.”

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | Alas, for all its many charms — rivaling CBS’ Angel From Hell as the fall’s best new comedy — The Grinder will have to make its case in a tough time slot, up against TV’s most watched drama, the always buzzy Flash and another winning laffer, Fresh Off the Boat. What’s more, it’s leading out of Fox’s other freshman comedy, John Stamos’ slighter Grandfathered. As such, it can only hope to put up the usual live-action Fox comedy numbers.

RELATED Read First Impressions for ABC’s Quantico, CBS’ Supergirl, NBC’s Blindspot

Watch a trailer for The Grinder, then vote in our poll below.

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  1. Kat says:

    This looks adorable, I’ll be watching!

  2. mc says:

    I don’t know. The only thing in my mind right now is how soon in this series’ life span before Lowe bails out.

  3. zac says:

    I’m on the fence about this. Rob Lowe’s character seems like an annoying douchebag and I already have Nick Miller from New Girl on that front covered so yeah, maybe I’ll check it out for a few episodes and see

  4. Jenna says:

    Atrocious name, but I’m very much looking forward to this one. Lowe and Savage should be great, and the supporting cast looks good, as well. Hopefully, it will survive the bad time slot.

  5. Mr. Tran K says:

    I’ll give Grinder a try. I never imagine seeing William Devane best known as James Heller on 24 in a sitcom before and great to see Fred Savage back on prime time TV in a very long time if people are watching reruns of The Wonder Years.

  6. Bob Backus says:

    Middleman! Morales

  7. Maria says:

    Excellent cast, but I hesitate to watch a first-year show on Fox because of the likelihood of cancellation.

  8. Lorie says:

    I’ll def give it a shot.

  9. GeekWithFanGirlSkills says:

    I wanna check this one out for the cast alone, but in the time slot it’s in, it’ll have to be via OnDemand.

  10. Ally Oop says:

    Pass. I have zero interest in this. It rivals Rosewood for least-interesting premise of any of the new shows for me.

  11. Lizo says:

    I’m having trouble believing Rob Lowe’s character did 8 seasons of a tv show. :P

  12. Assassin says:

    Eh, I watched the pilot for this and Grandfathered, and I found the latter the better sitcom. I would give The Grinder a 6 and Grandfathered an 8.

    I have no idea why FOX think this comedy block prove to be a selfstarter facing tough competition.

  13. prish says:

    We had better watch, while we have it. Remember Benched, Breaking In, Cupid, Pushing Daisies, The Neighbors, and Trophy Wife? Lesson learned: if it sounds good to you, hurry up and watch. It might be gone at a blink.

  14. James D says:

    this tops my list for new comedies for sure. Rob Lowe is a delight especially when he has free range to use his considerable wit which is why these kinds of comedies he usually shines in. Chris Traeger was one of my favorite TV comedy characters over the past decade and I’m very much looking forward to see what he does with Dean, that and the cast around him is fantastic Savage was a perfect casting choice for this kind of role. The problem as Matt states is the time slot. It’s up against some big names, But for me I think I will probably DVR Flash and watch this live.

  15. David4 says:

    “As such, it can only hope to put up the usual live-action Fox comedy numbers.”

    So it only need like 2-3 people to watch it and it be fine?

  16. dman6015 says:

    Impossible premise. Rob Lowe doing 8 seasons? On the same show?

  17. Since says:

    If not anything else, the timeslot will kill it

  18. Jared says:

    I highly doubt either Fox comedy will be a huge hit(atleast not in same day ratings) but I wouldn’t be surprised if both shows get a strong sampling in the beginning.

  19. TBMeow says:

    I’ll be watching. I don’t get the ‘bails the show’ comments that show up about Rob Lowe. He left 3 shows. West Wing has a long story behind it; we’ll probably never know the full story. I participated in the huge efforts to Save Sam (Seaborn) at the time.
    He’s left 2 other shows that he was first a guest star and became a regular. When he left both shows were at their end and wanted to cut the cast. So a mutual thing. Returned to West Wing and Parks & Rec for final eps. What this big worry about Rob Lowe leaving? Viewers must really like him or his characters. Seems like that’s a good thing. It sure seems to be an endless worry or some kind of criticism. Characters/actors leave shows all the time for a variety of reasons. Shows end. 4 years (on all 3 of the mentioned shows) is pretty long time in tv world.
    I don’t get it. ^..^
    ETA – Great cast. Title? Tough time slot.

  20. Audrey says:

    The Grinder. Smart. Love it. I believe viewers are not growing due to the fact:
    First it was at same time as “The Voice” then moved to same time as “NCIS”!? On demand lists it as “Grinder” FOXNOW as “The Grinder”.
    Needs to be before or after another “smart” show…season 2 will take off if it’s marketed well