John Stamos is not the only 80’s teen heartthrob making a comeback as the lead in a Fox half-hour comedy this year: Rob Lowe is joining him, as a TV star who just finished his final season as a kick-ass attorney in the titular show The Grinder.
In the pilot we see Dean Sanderson return to his family home in Idaho to ‘find himself’ after a successful 8 year run as a fictional lawyer. His actual lawyer brother Stewart isn’t exactly taking it very well, despite the rest of the family – including patriarch Dean Sr., also a lawyer – being completely enamored with him.
As Dean sticks his nose into Stewart’s case, with apparently the entire state of Idaho completely in awe of the big shot TV lawyer, it seems that the only person who actually realizes that playing an attorney and actually being one aren’t the same thing is timid Stewart, whose apparent fear of confrontation makes his career choice somewhat questionable. Tired of playing second fiddle to his big brother, he finally grows a pair and kicks him out, only to have Dean help him save the day in a ridiculous display of courtroom theatrics. Dean’s charisma almost wins the case, since just about everyone in the courtroom also happened to be a huge Grinder fan, and Stew takes it over the line with his new-found confidence.
The two brothers hug it out and are presumably going to be representing the family law firm as the oddball team of lawyer & wannabe lawyer tackling cases together, with Dean exuding cocky attitude and putting on a great performance, and Stewart providing actual legal knowledge that wins cases.
True enough, episode 2 pretty much sticks to this premise: Dean basically bulldozes over his brother and the law firm’s next case. Stewart has a revelation while watching old Grinder episodes, realizing he’s basically the wussy sidekick, Pincus, to Dean’s heroic Grinder. He questions whether he’s being too negative, both at work and family situations such as his teen daughter’s dating life, and decides to stop being a naysayer.
Meanwhile, opposing counsel on the case features the young and pretty junior associate Claire, who is decidedly not a Grinder fan. This obviously gets Dean a bit rattled, and when his “but what if it wasn’t” argument falls flat (shocker!) he gives up, stays home and broods, with the usual heavy dose of melodrama. Stewart broods too, realizing this new, relaxed attitude is having an adverse effect on his family life.
Reverting back to his Pincus role, his negativity encourages his brother, and together they hit a home run on the case. Grinder rests.
A couple of episodes in, I’m neither crazy about it nor hating it.