Third-episode verdict: The Grinder (US: Fox)

The BarrometerA Barrometer rating of 4

In the US: Tuesdays, 8.30/7.30c, Fox 
In the UK: Not yet acquired

Three episodes in, The Grinder has already settled into something of a routine. Each episode starts with a scene from an episode from Rob Lowe’s fictitious TV show The Grinder, in which he does something supposedly TV lawyerly but which barely exists in TV shows outside those of the 1980s. Lowe’s lawyer brother Fred Savage mocks it for being a TV cliché and having nothing to do with real law. Savage and Lowe then go to Savage’s workplace and then encounter a case that’s relevant to the scene we saw in the fake show. Lowe then tries to win the case for Savage using the ‘law’ he learnt on the TV show – and loses. Then to avoid bursting Lowe’s bubble, Savage does his best to enable the case to be won using Lowe’s law. 

And for all the meta-textual fun the show has going for it, with commentaries on how difficult second episodes are to maintain the qualities of the pilot while still advancing the show, none of that’s especially funny or clever. Lowe’s character is irritating and borderline delusional as written, apparently having no understanding of the difference between reality and TV. Savage has a thankless task that even his character meta-textually acknowledges in episode two is thankless. The arrival of Natalie Morales in episode two to provide some deadpan undercutting hasn’t upped the laughs either, unfortunately.

Grinder rests.

Barrometer rating: 4
TMINE’s prediction: Cancelled before the end of the season and might not even get any extra episodes ordered


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.