In a new season pockmarked by often unflattering imitation so far, Fox has managed to make something new and fresh out of something relatively old. Fronted by 1980s icons John Stamos and Rob Lowe, comedies Grandfathered and The Grinder are, as my video review above says, laugh-out-loud funny — which is exactly what you want from a network sitcom in 1987 or in 2015.
Set to debut tomorrow at 8 PM and 8:30 PM, respectively, both of these shows are about men who are middle-age messes, but the results are rather charming. In the ABC Studios-produced Grandfathered,Full House alum Stamos plays a 50-year-old, gray-hair-plucking, suave L.A. restaurateur and dedicated bachelor who has long used the line about wanting a family to attract the ladies. Well, amidst cameos galore, that’s what Jimmy Martino gets with the arrival of not just a previously unknown son but also a granddaughter. Besides the fact that Stamos and a baby is a tried-and-true winner, the wacky supporting cast — led by dorky new son Josh Peck and long-ago fling Paget Brewster — seal the deal on making this an unexpected gem. What former The Office lead writer Danny Chun has created here is truly delicious – and yes, there are in-jokes galore from Stamos’ past, so don’t blink or you truly might miss them.
If Stamos’ Martino is a man suddenly given what he said he always wanted, Lowe’s Dean Sanderson is one who isn’t sure what he wants — which is a big part of what makes the slightly more low-key The Grinder work. With his TV show now over after nine seasons, the self-obsessed Sanderson returns home to Idaho, where he is still a big deal, to find himself. Shallow but sometimes unintentionally swift, Lowe’s Sanderson sticks his experience playing a lawyer on TV into the real-life law firm of his awkward brother (The Wonder Years’ Fred Savage) and adoring father (Knots Landing alum William Devane). With jabs at celeb culture, the comedic ease Lowe flexed in Parks And Recreation is in fine form here.
So check out my double video review of Grandfathered and The Grinder above. And, on a very competitive night, if you want a double dose of grownup fun, check out both shows on Fox on September 29; you’ll be very glad you did.