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….
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).
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.