Each and every year, television networks have to clean out some of their less successful shows and cancel them to make room for new ones. Unfortunately, some of the shows that do get cancelled are going to be shows that you like. For me, this year is no different with several of my favorite television programs are getting the ax. There’s Castle, which is ending a spectacularly long 8 season run. There’s also Marvel’s Agent Carter, which lasted for 2 fantastic seasons. Those were great shows and I’m sorry to see them go.
But there’s always going to be that one new show that only lasts for one terrific season that’s extremely entertaining and just a joy to watch yet the network decides to cancel it. A couple of years ago, it was Fox’s sci-fi buddy cop action/drama Almost Human. Last year, it was NBC’s supernatural action/detective series Constantine. This year, Fox decided to grind out The Grinder, probably one of the more unique, wittiest and just plain ingenious comedy shows to come out of late.
The Grinder is about actor Dean Sanderson (played by Rob Lowe) who, after starring in the hit legal drama (called The Grinder, no less), decides to move back to his hometown in Idaho where his brother, lawyer Stewart Sanderson (played by Fred Savage). Inspired by his brother success, Dean decides to join his family’s law firm and practice real law, believing he’s qualified because he did play lawyer Mitch Grinder for 8 whole years!
There was just so many things good about The Grinder. And a lot of it has to deal with the characters and the actors that portray them. Rob Lowe pulls off the delusional Dean Sanderson almost frighteningly well. Although there’s no way you would believe that a person like Dean Sanderson would actually exist in the world because he does all of the classic tropes from other television shows and actually believes that they work, Rob Lowe makes you believe in the character!
There’s also the hapless and insecure Steward Sanderson and he’s brought to life by Fred Savage and I have to believe this is a case of extremely perfect casting. Stewart is grounded in the real world and is, you know, actually a lawyer. Yet Dean gets all of the praise from even his own family for being a successful “fake” lawyer. Fred Savage is really great in the role since you can feel the frustration whenever he tries to speak to Dean about his acting quirks.
More than that, however, it’s the chemistry between, not just Rob Lowe and Fred Savage, but between all of the characters. There’s a level of commitment you get from all of them that makes the entire silly premise seems like it’s really happening. Everyone plays their roles perfectly without diverging from the central theme. It’s great and really got me invested in all of them.
Another thing that makes The Grinder great is the level of meta-humor. The show just loves to poke fun at all of the things we see repetitively in most dramas that would be totally unrealistic or kind of ridiculous if they happened in real life. Through Stewart, we can see how strange it would be to look wistfully into the horizon when having a “flashback,” how a totally unrelated “sidestory” will give you the epiphany to solve the problem of the “main story” and a whole lot more. It’s funny because you’re also in on the joke and you do know how stupid these tropes can be.
Unfortunately, despite the show getting rave reviews from critics, The Grinder never really did great in the ratings department. It boggles the mind why the show didn’t get more people watching it. I can understand from an intellectual standpoint why Fox decided to pull the plug on the show. However, from an emotional standpoint, I think it’s a crappy move from the network. It was a great show and totally deserved to get a second season. It was funny, smart and loved to poke fun at, not only itself, but all of television.
Sad to see the show go. Grinder rests… forever.
Was there any show that got cancelled that hit you particularly hard? Let me know what it was in the comments section below!