The parallel storyline on The Grinder: Giving Thanks, Getting Justice is brilliant mix of disillusion, betrayal and at least one surprising revelation. As the Sanderson family prepare to ignore Thanksgiving, something initiated by Stewart (Fred Savage), Dean (Rob Lowe) is reliving the one year anniversary of events that led to his leaving “The Grinder.”
At the Sanderson house, Stewart has a secret reason for not celebrating the holiday and Dean invites the former legal partner of their father’s; Joseph T. Yao who Stew caught “In flagrant delicato” with their mother in Dean’s bedroom five years previously.
This episode has a dearth of guest stars: Clyde Kusatsu as Yao, Timothy Olyphant, as himself and Arielle Kebbel as “The Grinder” paralegal Avery who Dean has TV sex with on his old show. The excellent Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander gives a star turn as the director/show runner who shafts Dean on the issue of shirtless versus not shirtless, which prompts Dean to leave the show.
The plot lines were funny, of course. The two brother’s dealing with infidelity, and the whole reality of their parents’ “rock star” sex lives, which included Yao was hysterical. Olyphant’s cameo, as himself, giving advice to Lowe’s character about dignity and taking control was the highlight of the show. The punchline, of the gag (Justified?) almost stole the thunder from the rest of the episode and its gags.
In terms of guest stars, this FOX sitcom has pulled in some great names. In this episode alone the gorgeous and uber talented Kebbel steps in as, the “familiar female star” for “The Grinder.” In an earlier episode, this cameo was taken by Linda Cardellini. Alexander, who plays show creator and director Cliff Bemis, tricks Dean into using the “Mitch shirtless” scenes, does his usual expert turn as the master of smarmy. A previous guest spot was filled by Christina Applegate.
As usual, Dean Jr. manages to stack up the familial situation with stress but, in the end, also helps his little brother to get his dignity back. Before the end credits roll, the episode delivers a “double punchline” that has both men upset by the news that their father knew about their mother’s apparent ongoing sexual dalliance with Yao.
It also has Dean realizing that the advice Olyphant gave him was a set up when a trailer shows Timothy will be playing Mitch Grinder’s brother Rake an a replacement show to Dean’s. The advert ends with a shirtless Olyphant saying “The Big Easy just got hard.”
The writing on this show continues to deliver the laughs. On a sidenote; it is impressive the number of words that rhyme with Yao… While the viewing figures may not be very high, FOX will surely bring back the series for at least one encore, aka second season.
This week’s episode also proved that as Stewart’s wife, Mary Elizabeth Ellis can deliver with a minimum of muss and fuss. The revelatory scene where Dean forces Stew to tell him about their mother and Yao has Ellis stealing the scene with one line.
The Grinder airs Tuesdays on FOX. Tune in and get ready to laugh…a lot.