The Grinder: Buckingham Malice has Dean running a stop sign, deciding to turn his back on “using” his celebrity status to get special treatment and brother Stewart, and Debbie, having issues with colleagues and car repairmen. This episode featured power plays and people taking advantage of other people’s lack of assertiveness.
Dean (Rob Lowe) is shamed by Stewart (Fred Savage) into giving up freebies because he was “The Grinder” on television. This results in Dean getting a ticket for running a stop sign. He then fights to have the ticket thrown out which results in a domino effect which further affects his brother Stewart later.
Stewart and Debbie (Mary Elisabeth Ellis) want to leave for a weekend sex date and Stewart’s car is still in the shop. Stewart tricks Dean into using his celebrity to get the car fixed in time, after Claire (Natalie Morales) suggests it. The ruse works and Farouk the mechanic/shop owner promises to fix the car by the next day free of charge.
Deb’s new assistant thinks she has her boss over a barrel since Debbie has fired three previous assistants. Dean is upset that Stewart tricked him into using his celebrity status to get the car fixed. Farouk is in hospital with a burst appendix and his assistant is not aware of the “no charge” promise.
The gag of the episode was the “tricked like a dog into going to the vet.” This is how Morales’ character suggests it and Dean recognizes this when Stewart uses him to get the car done.
When Dean and Stewart collect the car, they drive off without paying and the police are called. The same officer that Dean humiliated in court stops the two brothers and carts them off to jail. After Stewart works out how to be released early, using Dean’s celebrity again, he stops by Debbie’s office. Deb then fires her assistant when she learns that the woman never relayed Stewart’s message that he was in jail.
Like the rest of The Grinder first season episodes the jokes work well and the actors all play it dead serious. The formula works and Ellis manages to kill it every single time she is on screen. Morales has stepped into her role as new member of the legal team (who is totally not impressed with Dean’s status as “The Grinder”) and the storyline this week was different enough to be entertaining.
Most of the series, thus far, has been about Dean’s attempt to practice law, or be a functioning member of the legal family business. While the celebrity status of the character has been a factor, at least this episode varied the spin.
Lowe may be playing a single note for his character but he hits it well and never fails to make the viewer believe that his “TV” lawyer is less than real. In terms of the verse, the viewer buys this actor’s inability to think in any terms other than his celebrity as a fictional character or in his belief that he is the character, to a degree.
Savage continues to play the beleaguered little brother who is successful in a different way than his famous sibling and everyone hits the right tone for this comedy to work every single week.
The Grinder airs Tuesdays on FOX and is a show that delivers inoffensive comedy that can be enjoyed by all. While not entirely rated for General audiences, the show comes close, with a low PG rating. Even the “sex weekend” gag was played for embarrassed giggles versus lascivious laughter. Tune in a catch this funny offering, relax and get into The Grinder.