The Grinder Premiere: What's Your Verdict on Rob Lowe's Legal Comedy?

Rob Lowe’s newest character, Dean Sanderson, is the living embodiment of the “I’m not a lawyer, but I play one on TV” joke. And while that’s terrible news for his licensed attorney brother Stewart (Fred Savage), it’s one of myriad amusements to be found in Fox’s new comedy The Grinder.

Dean, you see, is a big-time TV actor whose starring turn as “The Grinder” has just concluded after nine successful seasons — and now he’s back visiting his family in Idaho and indulging in extended metaphors about “pulling the car over” and trying to figure out the next step in his life. The only relative not riveted by Dean’s existential crisis is Stewart — whose sweet wife Debbie (Mary Elizabeth Ellis) wonders if the Hollywood player’s return has left her husband feeling like “a side character” in his own life.

When Dean begins to meddle in Stewart’s humdrum eviction case — and starts referencing lessons from his old TV plots, such as “Season 4, Episode 9’s” mantra that “The Grinder never settles!” — everyone from the judge to the plantiff gets starstruck, and it gives Dean the idea to go back to law school and try to capture the “meaningful life” Stewart already has.

In the best scene in the pilot, Lowe taps into his charming (and smarter than he seems) idiot persona and gets Stewart to admit that his time playing The Grinder makes him more qualified to practice law than any average person on the street. His logic? Wouldn’t you rather have a heart attack sitting next to long-running E.R. cast member Noah Wylie than someone without any medical knowledge whatsoever?

Stewart finally snaps, though, when Dean negotiates a deal involving his son, his daughter and his daughter’s secret high-school football player boyfriend. “This kid was using Ethan to get with my daughter, and your solution was to leverage her for his junior high-school popularity?” he asks incredulously. Dean ultimately finds Stewart’s cue cards asking him to leave town and go back to California — and so, crestfallen, he promises to pack up his car and go “at first light.” (Boy loves drama!)

In the last act of the pilot episode, however, Dean catches his brother’s crumbling case on the local news — prompting his dramatic (and probably illegal) return to the courtroom to interrogate the opposition and save the day. After Dean tricks the crooked landlord to admit he’d torn up Stewart’s clients’ rent check — he’d claimed they didn’t pay — he makes the man reach into an envelope and pull out a two-word message: “Grinder rests.” I’m not sure there’s been a moment on a freshman comedy this season more worthy of a simultaneous LOL and a “Woo-hoo!” With some actual legal maneuvering from a suddenly not-tongue-tied Stewart, the brothers win the case — and a possibly great comedy series is set into motion.

What did you think of The Grinder premiere? Take our poll below, then sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. herman1959 says:

    Hilarious! It’s silly, but I actually laughed out loud several times. Rob Lowe is EVERYTHING in it.

  2. c-mo says:

    Very cute show! Loved seeing Gypsy as the judge and Pindar as opposing counsel. Definitely staying on the DVR for the long haul.

  3. A.b. says:

    This thing reeked! I laughed exactly once–when Stewart fell in the courtroom scene. He’s an annoying putz. Cruddy writing, boring execution. Simply putrid and a waste of a good cast. Fortunately, it looks to be a quick cancellation. :D

    • You’re a ball of sunshine, aren’t you?

      • Karen says:

        I am guessing you are a liberal. Only liberals denigrate people who don’t agree with them. I happen to agree with A.b. It is a terrible show,casting a horrible character as the start,when in reality,Fred Savage’s character should be the star. It reminds me of “Two and a Half Men” where the alcoholic,womanizing,lying start(Charlie Sheen) is portrayed as the “hero”, while his REAL hero brother,who is honest and trustworthy,is portrayed as a loser. Typical Hollywood. So,just because someone disagrees with you,doesn’t entitle you to make fun of them for their opinion. Maybe they thought it stunk! So did I!

    • Joni says:

      Wow, aren’t you a barrel of laughs! Thank goodness you are in the minority.

    • Dana says:

      That’s the only time i laughed, too! Sorry to those who can’t accept our opinions! Love both Lowe and Savage, but that show was pure crap!

      • Karen says:

        Dana, so true. I like Fred Savage and I don’t understand the appeal of Rob Lowe,especially in this awful character.

    • betty says:

      I loved it. I really don’t understand why it would give you such happiness to see it canceled. Feel sorry that something like a show being cancel quickly is what would bring joy to your life. Sorry…….

      • Karen says:

        Who said they are happy about it? Everyone has the right to their opinion,even if it differs from YOURS! I thought it was awful as well. Another typical liberal Hollywood portrayal of a total jerk(Rob Lowe’s character) being the star,and the REAL hero is Fred Savage,the hard-working,honest lawyer. Reminds me of “Two and a Half Men”, where Charlie Sheen, who is an alcoholic,womanizing lair, is the star, and the REAL hero,his honest,upstanding brother,is portrayed as a loser. No wonder our kids have no morals today. Everything they come into contact with in Hollywood is immoral.

    • Temperance says:

      It was so awful I quit watching 10 minutes in. I never do that. Ugh.

    • Karen says:

      I completely agree. A little bit of Rob Lowe’s annoying character goes a long way. I can’t imagine anyone watching a whole season of this. It’s unfortunate because I like Fred Savage. This reminds me of “Two and a Half Men” where the alcoholic,womanizing,lying star(Charlie Sheen) is lionized and his brother,the REAL star,who is honest and trustworthy,is portrayed as a loser. After a few episodes it becomes very tiresome. It is typical of Hollywood to portray this. I just cannot stand Rob Lowe in this character. He is totally unlikable. I only had to watch the pilot to get tired of him. This would have been better as perhaps a two-hour movie and that’s it. Just terrible.

  4. dan says:

    I thought Fred Savage was great while Rob Lowe was exactly what I expected. William Devane was wasted as the dad, hope they give him more to do if this show sticks around. Overall I thought it was just ok, maybe I’ll watch again next week, maybe not. Good premise, but no real surprises.

  5. Red Snapper says:

    It was totally ridiculous but definitely fun and better than I expected. I laughed out loud a few times. Rob Lowe was pretty much how I expected him to be and he’s good at playing that type of character. I always love me some Fred Savage and the rest of the cast was good. I’ll be tuning in next week.

  6. Joni says:

    Love this show, winner, winner, winner

  7. Brian says:

    Rob Lowe is brilliant as Dean, I laughed out loud several times. 👍👍👍

  8. Gailer says:

    I LOL when rob Lowe walked in the court room at the end and the judge’s reaction. Rob Lowe is a pretty good actor.

  9. Mike says:

    I cannot believe there is two solid good shows with veteran actors that I like. Grinder and Grandfathered.

    • Mike says:

      Meant to say there are two shows, not is.

    • lostsok says:

      Both perfectly cast, too. John Stamos was outstanding in Grandfathered, and Rob Lowe crushed The Grinder. Among the best back-to-back pilots I’ve ever seen…

      And no laugh-tracks! Along with Life In Pieces that’s three non-laugh-track multiple camera sitcoms, and they’re all good so far.

    • Curly Girly says:

      I felt like I was back in the 80’s! LOL. and how have these 2 handsome men not aged???

  10. Loved the callback to Rob Lowe’s ‘Parks and Recreation’ character when he used the word “literally”, a favorite of Chris Traeger.

  11. Joey Padron says:

    First episode was good and so funny. Like it a lot. Rob is great on the show. So is Fred. Loved Rob used the word literally in episode. Good callback to Chris Traeger from Parks and Rec. will keep watching the show.

  12. Mr. Tran K says:

    I give The Grinder an A. This was pure comedic entertainment from start to finish and Lowe and Savage make quite a brotherly duo. It was great to see Fred Savage back on TV since his Wonder Years days but between this and Grandfathered, Fox does know how to make a great one hour comedy block on a Tuesday night.

  13. Dana says:

    That was seriously lame … I predict it will be cancelled after 3 episodes!

  14. lostsok says:

    Rob Lowe was screamingly funny in this, and Fred Savage more than held his own. Sitcom pilots are notoriously middling; they have to do so much introduction in 20-22 minutes that it’s hard to build real comedy. The Grinder threw all of that out the window and drop one solid joke after another. Fantastic.

    And as a lifelong resident of Boise: about this city got it’s own show!

  15. MissMel says:

    I always give a sitcom 2-3 episodes to find its footing before I decide whether I’m in for the long haul. I gave this a B just based on the pilot but I think it has great potential. I thought Fred Savage stole the show and I also love the kid playing his son.

  16. robandco says:

    I really enjoyed it. Probably one of the best pilots of the season. But why invest myself in a TV Show with Rob Lowe when I know it won’t last past season 4 because he’ll decide he wants to do something else? I hope this time it’ll be different since he’s the lead and the show is LITERALLY about him and I don’t think the show can survive its departure. Because after Brothers & Sisters and Parks & Recs I’ll be done with him if he pulls a Rob Lowe once again.

  17. Walkie says:

    Best pilot I have seen in years. The show’s chemistry is already solid. So great to see Savage back on TV and he was hilarious.

  18. Kim R says:

    Really liked it! Good writing, great actors, I’ll be back. :)

  19. Ellinas1978 says:

    22 minutes (or however long without commercials) of my life I’m never getting back.

  20. Linda says:

    It’s refreshing to see such great comedy coming back on tv. Thankyou!

  21. I was really hoping for something a little better but I don’t judge the show from the pilot. I so did not like The Big Bang Theories pilot and now it is one of my favorite shows. So I will give this show a few more episodes to get it’s groove on.

  22. Elf says:

    Everything was great until the final courtroom scene. This show could be a lot better if it stays grounded in reality instead of getting too silly for the sake of a laugh.

    To me, the real star is Fred Savage. He seems to be channeling a young Bob Newhart.

  23. Nicole says:

    I really liked both Grinder and Grandfathered. I think Granfathered was funnier but Grinder definitely got.some laughs out of me. I loved when the scene was focused on Rob from his.POV the music was loud and dramatic, then just cut away when s itching back.

  24. smartysenior says:

    People are so celebrity stricken these days that this plot wasn’t even that far fetched. The judge and the fans packed into the courtroom being star struck by him wasn’t as crazy these days as it may have been years ago. He’ll get away with whatever he wants as long as he retains “star status” and the results were pretty funny I thought.

  25. Rockin Rebel says:

    I grew up watching these 2 guys and loved Fred Savage in “The Wonder Years” and Rob Lowes Movies, but i hated this show, it was terrible. I know it’s only the first show, but i just did not like it. I Seriously don’t see a 2nd season coming next year. Sorry guys.

  26. Ambee says:

    I am a fan of both the lead actors, but I thought the premiere was just ok. I wanted to laugh but it wasn’t really happening. I’m definitely going to give it time – pilots frequently aren’t the strongest episodes, but I thought it was just average. I chuckled once (I can’t even remember the joke), and I of course squealed a bit when Rob Lowe said “literally,” but it was a bit light on the humor for me.

  27. Wendy says:

    The Grinder was terrible. An entire half hour of Rob Lowe mugging and Fred Savage furrowing his brows as if educating elementary school children on the art of phoning it in. Utter crap.

  28. John NYC says:

    A few minutes in and I stopped it. might come back to it, reviews have mostly been positive, but the living room scene was neither compelling nor funny for me.

  29. Raul C. says:

    I love this show, it was hillarious I was LOL the whole time. Please don’t cancel this show.

  30. Mashdown62 says:

    Over acted…thank you Rob Lowe. Had two moments where I laughed. Good luck. They are going to need it.

  31. Jeri says:

    I did not care for it and I have never thought Rob was a good actor. He is simply “Rob” in every show he is in. If you like him that is fine, if not, not so much.

  32. Bob Backus says:

    Wow, it’s frankly bizarre. I’m guessing none of the below have ever watched TV shows over a few years old. Predictable, dull, and full of cliches in this so called “original” show. Perhaps you need to watch a few more shows.

  33. lorraine dekenipp says:

    I love Fred Savage in this new comedy when it first aired I really love the show Rob Lowe’s character of being obnoxious all the time is not so charming as the first episode but I really love Fred Savage in this role